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Lions Roar : May 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 45 and promises of human nature. We focus on human life, not because Buddhism does not concern itself with other forms of life, but rather because Buddhism in all its forms, in all its tra- ditions, has singled out human life as the most precious. Hu- man embodiment is seen as the optimal vehicle that we could employ and deploy on the journey toward enlightenment. According to the sublime teachings of the Buddha, our destiny lies in our own hands. That is what we come to see when we truly appreciate the truth of suffering and the truth of the cause of suffering. We can continue to wallow in our own suffering and misery or take some initiative, such as making the practice of dharma, which enables us to see the true nature of our expe- rience, part of our everyday life. Buddhist teachings make it amply clear that we should not expect samsara to be nirvana. That is denying the first noble truth, and it is the most profound mistake. It is totally irrational. As students of Buddhism, we are instructed to see honestly what is possible and what is not possible. The first lesson we have to learn is that samsara does not deliver all that it promises. We have to recognize that transient pleasures are simply that and nothing more. So long as we do not recognize that, we do not accept the first noble truth fully, and this non-acceptance of the truth only produces more discontentment and frustration. In fact, we feel that we have failed in our effort to dispel suf- fering and pain. Samsara is a bad deal. Suffering pervades and permeates the whole of the samsaric domain. Yet most of our suffering is avoidable. If we can only learn to discipline our mind, we can deal with our physical ailments and mental distress with a greater resolve and fortitude. It is possible not to get upset when people speak ill of us. It is possible to be free of paranoia about what others are thinking of us. When we feel loss and we grieve, we can do so without the emotions overwhelm- ing us, opening the door to despair and depression. We can also learn how not to generate further suffering by accepting the unavoidable suffering of old age, sickness, and death. By trying to look younger, one does not become younger. Pre- tending one’s illness is not serious does not make the illness MAY 42-49.indd 45 MAY 42-49.indd 45 3/6/08 11:29:21 AM 3/6/08 11:29:21 AM