Modernity has multiplied the comforts of today’s generation in comparison to their older generation. Things that were a big dream to them are now just too obvious for the new. Modern consumerism has developed in such a way that innovation has bombarded us with greater facilities and values. This has certainly enhanced materialistic comforts, yet people are unhappy despite having everything that is just a click away.
The increased amount of stress, worry, anxiety, dissatisfaction, health issues and overall dissatisfaction with life shows the saga of a human’s pursuit of happiness even today. This article attempts to analyse the reality of human sufferings, their behaviours and consciousness and the significance of Vipassana and Buddha’s teachings in today’s context.
The first noble truth: Dukkha
Before talking about Vipassana, let’s talk about the four noble truth comprises the essence of Buddha’s teachings.
They are the truth of suffering—Dukkha, the truth of the cause of suffering—Samudaya, the truth of the end of the suffering— Nirodha and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering—Magga. Suffering exists and it has a cause and an end. The concept of suffering is not intended to convey a negative worldview but rather a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is and attempts to rectify it.
Can we skip old age, sickness and death? Certainly not. These are too obvious states of human existence, but the problem of suffering goes much deeper. Even when we are not suffering from outward causes like illness or bereavement, we suffer because we always do not meet our expectations. We are subject to desires and cravings, but even if we are able to satisfy these aspects of life, the satisfaction is only temporary. Due to its impermanent nature, it perishes eventually and internally we become unfulfilled and unsatisfied.
The second noble truth: Samudaya
It seems our daily problems are easily recognisable, whether it be thirst, pain from injury, or sadness from the loss of a loved one. Buddha taught desire is the cause of all suffering which indeed is more deeply rooted in our immediate worries. Further, Buddha classified the roots of suffering into three categories: greed and desire, ignorance or delusion and finally hatred and destructive urges. All our senses have an attachment to positive, negative and neutral sensations and thoughts, which are the causes of suffering.
The third noble truth: Nirodha
One cannot eliminate suffering without releasing attachments because attachment is the cause of suffering. Buddha on The Fire Sermon has prescribed estrangement which means to know the senses of the self without becoming enchanted or misled by them.
The fourth noble truth: Magga
Through the eightfold path, Buddha prescribes the end of suffering. It is also called the middle path as it avoids indulgence and severe asceticism.