The Second Noble Truth: The Origin of Suffering

Buddha’s Second Noble Truth is the origin of dukkha, or suffering. He realized that there was no way to end suffering if its cause was not known. In order to uncover the source, Buddha would listen to the “symptoms” of others and determine what makes them worse and what provided relief or improvement. This trial and error approach revealed three primary causes of suffering: desire, craving and ignorance.

Suffering Caused by Craving

Craving can cause suffering in multiple ways. Every person on the planet experiences a feeling of want at some point in their lives. It could be for anything from entertainment, food and material possessions to physical beauty and popularity. Buddhists teach that things that stimulate the senses can cause cravings.

The problem is that anything that causes cravings is short lived. None of these things lasts forever. A delicious meal will eventually be eaten and physical beauty will fade with time. The things we crave cannot provide fulfilling, long term happiness, which leads to feelings of dissatisfaction. Even if a person was allowed to constantly indulge, they would eventually feel unhappy as they grow tired of the object of their craving.

Suffering Caused by Ignorance

Craving and ignorance are considered close relatives in the teachings of Buddha. Before greed, hatred and negative thoughts branch out, they must take root somewhere. Buddhism explains that the roots flourish within ignorance.

True ignorance doesn’t mean a lack of education or knowledge. In Buddhism, ignorance describes an inability to see the truth. When a person cannot see things for what they really are, they will have a limited understanding of the world and will not be able to grow and improve. Ignorance also brings on delusions and misunderstanding, which cultivates negativity.

When a person shrugs off their ignorance and develops their mind, they can obtain wisdom through meditation and study. This will allow them to observe the truth and view all things as they really are. It is a necessary state to reach for a person to be able to understand the Four Noble Truths and Buddha’s teachings on suffering and life’s impermanence.

A Life without Cravings and Ignorance

Buddhists believe that living without cravings or ignorance is essential to obtaining enlightenment and finding real happiness. By banishing the veil of ignorance, a person can see the world without illusions or fear. They will also be able to stop suffering caused by cravings and develop their minds through meditation.

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