One of life’s awful truths is that suffering is inevitable for everyone. Each person you come across is experiencing some form of suffering in some way. Even Buddha, one of the universe’s most equanimous figures, espoused that ‘everything is suffering’. In fact, it’s one of the key teachings of Buddhism. But Buddha also believed that we can lessen our suffering, eventually removing it completely, once we learn where it stems from.
To Buddha, the basic cause behind suffering is ‘the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion).’ Which makes sense, once you understand it. We all have desires, aspirations, cravings and goals that we’re all aiming for, but the damage occurs when we become attached to those things. Because if (and when) we don’t achieve or receive these things, we become distressed, angry and depressed. All of which are symptoms of suffering.
Even having success can create suffering. When we get what we want, we often become greedy and lust after more of the same. That attachment to wanting more becomes unhealthy, and when we fail to get more, we start – you guessed it – suffering. So, if all our suffering stems from something as simple attachment, why aren’t we all more happy? Because we don’t know how to let go. I know what you’re thinking: letting go sounds like a bad thing. Why would we want to let go of our goals and our dreams? What kind of life would that encourage?
Consider this: Everything we do and everything we want is driven by the belief that it will make us feel a certain way. We work hard because we think it will make us feel successful, but then we feel lost if we lose our job. We earn money and we think it will make us feel rich, but then we’re devastated when it’s spent and we have little to show for it. Frustration towards a child stems from the attachment to how we think they should be behaving. Worry and anxiety stems from the attachment to how we want our lives to be, which is usually disparate to how they are. Sadness, worry, grief, joy, anger – all the emotions we feel – are felt because we’ve become attached to something or someone, and when that attachment is taken away, we suffer.
The first step to freeing yourself from attachment is to realise (really realise) that this is why you suffer. Once you realise and accept this truth, you can begin letting go by taking things as they are and as they will be. Remove any preconceived ideas you had for your future, and instead focus on your present. Be the best person you can be today, and you’ll find your future will be exactly how you dreamed it – minus the suffering along the way.
In the wise words of Steve Maraboli, our guest on this week’s Bond Appetit podcast,
‘The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday.’
Author: Ronsley Vaz
Ronsley is the founder & chief day dreamer at AMPLIFY. He is an author, speaker & serial entrepreneur.
He has a Masters’ degree in Software Engineering and an MBA in Psychology and Leadership. He is known as the creator of We Are Podcast – the first Podcasting Conference in the Southern Hemisphere, and the host of The Bond Appetit Podcast and Should I Start a Podcast. He has an audience of over 3 million in 133 countries.