We establish some stability and focus in our mind and see which elements in it lead to greater peace, which to greater suffering. All of it — both the peace and the suffering — happens lawfully. Freedom lies in the wisdom to choose.
– Joseph Goldsteinfrom the book “Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Painting: © Anna Silivonchik
It can be said that there are two kinds of suffering. Perhaps ninety-five percent of the suffering we endure every day is not at all necessary. Because of our lack of insight, we cause suffering to ourselves and others, including our beloved ones. But the remaining five percent is born out of contact with the real suffering around us and inside of us. To be aware of this kind of suffering brings about compassion, the energy necessary to transform ourselves and help relieve the suffering of the world.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Painting: © Picasso
In truth, happiness is suffering in disguise but in such a subtle form that you don’t see it. If you cling to happiness, it’s the same as clinging to suffering, but you don’t realize it. When you hold on to happiness, it is impossible to throw away the inherent suffering. They’re inseparable like that. Thus the Buddha taught us to know suffering, see it as the inherent harm in happiness, to see them as equal. So be careful! When happiness arises, don’t be overjoyed, and don’t get carried away. When suffering comes, don’t despair, don’t lose yourself in it. See that they have the same equal value.
– Ajahn Chah
“When we get angry, we suffer. If you really understand that, you also will be able to understand that when the other person is angry, it means that she is suffering. When someone insults you or behaves violently towards you, you have to be intelligent enough to see that the person suffers from his own violence and anger. But we tend to forget. We think that we are the only one that suffers, and the other person is our oppressor. This is enough to make anger arise, and to strengthen our desire to punish. We want to punish the other person because we suffer. Then, we have anger in us; we have violence in us, just as they do. When we see that our suffering and anger are no different from their suffering and anger, we will behave more compassionately. So understanding the other is understanding yourself, and understanding yourself is understanding the other person. Everything must begin with you.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Imagine holding on to a hot burning coal. You would not fear letting go of it. In fact, once you noticed that you were holding on, you would probably drop it quickly. But we often do not recognize how we hold on to suffering. It seems to hold on to us. This is our practice: becoming aware of how suffering arises in our mind and of how we become identified with it, and learning to let it go. We learn through simple and direct observation, seeing the process over and over again until we understand.
– Joseph Goldstein
from the book “Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom”