December 16, 2016

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Most people think that wealth can provide absolute joy, pleasure or happiness, but that is wrong. Although a person may be very rich, he will not be happy if he does not have a good health or does not feel safe and is always worrying that he may one day lose his wealth. He may be able to enjoy life to great extents, which can be bought with his wealth, but those are not eternal happiness, just temporary or rather, illusions. As a Buddhist, I believe that there is no real Sukha, a Pali word, which can be loosely interpreted as a feeling of joy, pleasure, comfort, ease or satisfaction and has nothing to do with wealth.  Our Lord Buddha in his teachings listed Sukha as Dukkha, whichin ordinary usage means suffering, pain, sorrow or misery as opposed to the word Sukha, because of its impermanent nature.
Thus, it is evident that there is no real Sukha in life, but only Dukkhas that onehastoendurethroughoutone’s lifetime. Dukkhas stem from the hazards that are abound since the time of conception in the mother’s womb until the time of death. According to Buddha’s teaching—conception, birth, old age, sickness, death, association with unpleasant persons and conditions, separation from beloved ones and pleasant conditions, not getting what one desires, grief, lamentation, distress—all such forms of physical and mental suffering, which are universally accepted as sufferings or pains are included in Dukkha. All Dukkhas are in one way or another, related to dangers, hazards or obstacles that are abound in life.
Again, if we look at life, not from the religious point of view but from the worldly perspective, the above statements are proved to be true. Let us start observing life from the time of conception, which can be deemed the beginning of life. The embryo is subjected to all forms of dangers. The fetus is vulnerable to miscarriage, intentional abortion due to various reasons, inheriting deceases from the parents, malformation, accidents involving the mother, just to cite a few common examples of dangers human beings are exposed to, even before birth.
There is also danger at the time of birth, both for the mother and the child. Even if there is no trouble at delivery, the child is exposed to numerous viruses and bacteria that can be seriously infectious, which are prevalent in this modern age, once it emerged from the mother’s womb. As it grew up, he or she is further exposed to more hazards. The hazards are caused either by natural or manmade disasters. Natural disasters are such as—deceases, earthquakes, storms and flooding—to cite a few. Manmade disasters are—wars, nuclear tests, accidents, contamination of foods by overuse of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, preservatives and colorings,  unhealthy lifestyles, excessive timber extractions and unsystematic mining, which led to the deforestations and destructions of the eco-system that resulted in excessive carbon emissions, air pollutions, water pollutions, depletion of the ozone layers and weather changes—to mention just a few. However, as these hazards, dangers or obstacles, whether natural or manmade are so numerous I will not attempt to list all of them.
During a lifetime, a person may be able to accumulate much wealth and enjoy life more than the other not-so-fortunate ones, but that person is not invulnerable or immune to the hazards that can strike any time. The wealthier a person, the more hazards he encounters and the more worrisome he gets, depriving him of the peace of mind, so where is the joy of being rich. Thus, it can be summed up that there are more hazards than joy, pleasure, comfort, ease and satisfaction in life. In other words, there are more Dukkhas than Sukhas in life.
Our Buddhist belief is that by possessing a body or a physical structure, one must unavoidably encounter the sufferings of aging, sickness and finally death, which are Dukkhas.  As human beings are led on from one stage of life to another in conditions of the utmost hazards, dangers and obstacles, there is a universally accepted saying that “life is a struggle”, which almost everyone irrespective of race or religion, rich or poor agrees.
To be free from these Dukkhas, the only mean for us Buddhists is to get rid of them by following the teachings of our Lord Buddha. Other religions may also have their own way of ridding them, but as a Buddhist, I would like to advice my fellow Buddhists to study and practice “The Four Noble Truths”, which our Lord expounded in his very first sermon soon after his enlightenment to his old colleagues, the five ascetics, at Isipatana near Benares in India.
The First Noble Truth is Dukkha, in which he explained the different aspects of Dukkha. The Second Noble Truth is Samudaya, the arising or origin of Dukkha. The Third noble Truth is Nirodha, which dealt with the cessation of Dukkha. The Fourth Noble Truth is Megga, which shows the path that lead tothe cessation of Dukkha, knownasthe “Middle Path”, because it avoids two extremes. One extreme is the search for happiness through the pleasures of senses, which is “low, common, unbeneficial and the way of the ordinary people” and the other is the search for happiness through self-mortification in different forms of asceticism, which too is “painful, unworthy and unbeneficial”.  If these “Four Noble Truths” are practiced correctly, one can attain Nirvana—free from all forms of Dukkha—which is the ultimate goal of every practicing Buddhists.
Whatever approaches different religions may take, I believe that the ultimate goal of every religion is to be free from sufferings, pains, sorrows or miseries that every human being must encounter throughout a lifetime. Thus, in conclusion I would like to urge all human beings, irrespective of their religions or beliefs, to strive for that goal.


The author is Retired Deputy General Manager, Admin: Dept:, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications.


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