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The Essential Teaching of the Buddha-Recognizing Suffering and Ending Suffering
 
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The Essential Teaching of the Buddha-Recognizing Suffering and Ending Suffering

The essential teachings of the Buddha boil down to recognizing suffering and freeing oneself from suffering. In others words, we need to realize that suffering is a fact in life, and make the cessation of suffering the goal of life.

Once I asked the audience in a public talk, “Are there any couples who have been married for more than ten years and have never quarreled?” Then I saw a man, a legislator, raise his hand. This man and his wife were both Buddhists, and they treated each other as fellow practitioners. That’s why they had never quarreled.

It seems difficult for married couples not to quarrel, but actually, it’s not. Just think about this: when your spouse picks a quarrel with you, you already feel quite upset; if you fight back, you will only aggravate the situation, making the anguish more intense. Doing so, you don’t just experience suffering alone, but will also inflict suffering on others. So both parties torment each other. Why on earth is this necessary?

This rationale is easy to comprehend, but difficult to put into practice. Even Buddhists may often be unable to withstand the test when encountering trying situations. Some people may say, “Since he has caused me so much pain, I want him to have a taste of it himself. Otherwise, where is karmic retribution?”

How can one view karmic law, or the law of cause and effect, in this way? In fact, karma runs through past, present and future lives. Present suffering is a result of past karma, and undergoing suffering amounts to atoning for past karma. If you are unwilling to repay your karmic debt, and make things worse by retaliating instead, then the vicious circle of vengeance will just go on and on without end. Those who truly understand the law of karma will be able to recognize suffering, accept suffering, and at the same time stop creating the various cause and suffering. Therefore, if a married couple are giving each other a hard time or trying to get even with each other, they lack not only compassion, but also wisdom.


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