The Ending of Suffering?

What I see has no hold over me

What I hear has no hold over me

What I smell has no hold over me

What I touch has no hold over me

What I taste has no hold over me

What I think has no hold over me

There is suffering. That is the first noble truth. We can take recourse to many things to overcome suffering. Whatever we do is ultimately a fabrication that perpetuates the sense of me, mine or myself. If that happens, suffering continues. If we treat any event or occurrence in our awareness or consciousness as me, mine or myself, suffering will follow. That essentially means that taking recourse in god or work, money or relationships or any other thing does not work to end suffering. However, if we treat any element of our being as not me, mine or myself, suffering abates. It is quite likely that peace does not come in any other way. Form, persons or phenomena exist only in conjunction with our awareness and right from the start we treat both stimuli as well as the perception of stimuli as me, mine or myself. And with that, no matter what we do, suffering continues.

Clearly seeing that a worrisome thought, a fearful feeling, a painful sensation or any object in consciousness is not me, mine or myself, we begin to end suffering.

Is it necessary to believe that there is no ‘self’, to verify that the sense of ‘me’ is a fabrication? Not really. All one has to do is to clearly see that any element of our experience is inconstant, subject to change. What is subject to change, will change, sooner or later. The superimposition of an owner, a ‘me’ that is incessantly trying to regulate, fix or better our experiences can only bring suffering. So the moment we perceive a feeling or event and say ‘this I am’, ‘this is mine’, ‘this is myself’, suffering ensues. Also and perhaps more importantly, why would we consider what is subject to change and hence stressful as ‘me’, ‘mine’ or ‘myself’?

If we honestly reflect upon why there is fear, why there is suffering, we will find that we or rather the sense of ‘me’ is threatened. When this me does not get what it wants or gets what it does not want, then there arises pain and suffering. In the face of reality where untoward things can always occur, it makes good sense to not rely or cling to the sense of me. Like a river that does not have a sense of me and yet carves rock and land, we can let go of the sense of me and yet benefit ourselves and others. Nothing is lost when we let go of our sense of self and in fact, we can find peace that is literally causeless. Gone is the defending, comparing or hoarding. And when such things fall away, we come to see that all we rely upon can never be a refuge. We see that the me is not a refuge. This means that our form is not a refuge, feelings are not a refuge, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness, none of these can be a refuge. The only refuge is the cultivation of insight and the cultivation of compassion.

We have to use whatever we have or are to see that we create our own misery. When that insight dawns, it becomes easier to let go of the ‘me’, and with the letting go of this me, compassion starts to develop. With clinging to the elements we think we are made up of, we cultivate only what we think is or can be ours. And that is increasing suffering because loss looms, threat looms and fear looms. If we see the futility of such an approach and learn to begin to let go, we find true refuge.

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