“To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” Friedrich Nietzsche’s articulate definition of life and survival serves in tandem to Buddha’s teachings of suffering, the meaning of suffering, and it’s applicability to real life. In essence, one must commit to realizing suffering, the causes of suffering, and finally, the means of escaping it. Suffering can be physical or psychological, yet it must yield the same end of stifled human experience. The cause of suffering can be many, but must stem from the subsections of: Craving to Be, Craving Not to Be, and Sensual Experience . The focus of analysis will be on the aforementioned three. What are the specifics of these three experiences, their applications to experiential encounters, and how one escapes this seemingly inescapable cycle.
Siddhartha’s Introduction to Suffering
“…suffering is something that transcends the present and permeates the past and future of one’s existence. Suffering can become an inescapable aspect of one’s life if one does not take tangible steps to remove it as an albatross on the mind, body and spirit...” The Buddha strove to educate believers and non-believers alike on the all-to-real effects of suffering on the human experience. Yet, the Buddha knew only a comfortable life before he became “the Buddha.” In his previous life, the Buddha was known to his fellow Nepalese royals as Siddhartha Gautama . Traditionally, Siddhartha was raised in an environment of destined glory, riches and endless pleasures. Specifically, Siddhartha expected to live out his days as a prince, coupled with three palaces, each one for meant for transitions in seasons. Yet, his father, King Suddhodana, wished for his son to live a life shielded from human suffering and religious teachings .
Siddhartha Leaves the Kingdom
Despite repeated attempts to ensure Siddhartha’s shielded lifestyle, whether from showering the prince with gifts or providing him with lush scenes of peace and serenity, the King could no longer keep his son at bay. Thus, following 29 years of being Kapilavastu’s princeling, Siddhartha departed the hallowed halls of the palace in search of “truth.” That “truth” was the present day experiences of the subjects that lived outside the palace walls. Despite his father’s repeated plea to his son never to experience the outside world, Siddhartha felt there was more to life than artificial perfection. Now enveloped in a quest to understand the nature of natural phenomena, Siddhartha viewed the ailing features of an old man. His charioteer, Channa , explained to the beffudled prince that all people wither as the years prolong. Surprised by this fact, Siddhartha encouraged Channa to lead him through other parts of his “esteemed” kingdom .
The Truth Revealed
What Siddhartha encountered went beyond his wildest expectations. A diseased man poisoned his perception of human affliction. A decaying corpse defiled his understanding of the longevity of...