Buddha learnt that suffering is a part of life, he realised
he could not find a way to end suffering without finding out
what causes it. Buddhists study that the Buddha learnt this
just like a doctor learns about what's wrong with his patient
by listing their symptoms, finding out what makes them worse
and studying other cases before prescribing a cure.
people Buddha found out that the causes of suffering are craving
and desire, and ignorance. The power of these things to cause
all suffering is what Buddhists call The Second Noble Truth.
things we crave for? Food we love to eat, entertainment, new
things, popularity, money, beauty, holidays and so many more
things and experience, depending on who we are and where we
are. Craving can be explained as the strong desires that people
have for pleasing their senses and for experiencing life itself.
Buddhists believe that anything that stimulates our senses or
our feelings can lead to craving.
crave for their favourite tastes, but we all know that not even
the best sweets and our favourite meal lasts forever. Soon it
is finished and there can be no more to enjoy, and then it is
forgotten as though it never even happened. None of the pleasures
we crave for ever give us lasting happiness or satisfaction.
This is why people can crave to repeat these experiences again
and again, and become unhappy and dissatisfied until they can
satisfy their craving.
is, even if these pleasures are repeated again and again, we
can still feel unhappy. Imagine eating your favourite food every
meal, day-after-day, week-after-week. At first you might think
this is a great idea, but very soon the day will come when you
just cannot enjoy that food anymore, when it might even make
you feel sick! Have you ever eaten too much cake and made yourself
ill? Buddha said it's the same with all the things that please
is like a great tree with many branches. There are branches
of greed, bad thoughts and of anger. The fruit of the tree of
craving is suffering but how does the tree of craving grow?
Where can we find it? The answer, says the Buddha, is that the
tree of craving has its roots in ignorance. It grows out of
ignorance, and its seeds fall and flourish whenever they find
ignorance? Real ignorance is not just being uneducated, or not
knowing many things. Buddhists see ignorance as the inability
to see the truth about things, to see things as they really
are. This ability to see the truth is not a question of either
eyesight or education. Buddhists believe that there are many
truths about the world that people are ignorant of, because
of the limits of their understanding.
can easily show us many examples of how misunderstanding and
limited information cause ignorance. Until last Century, for
example, most people in the world believed the Earth was flat
and that travelers could easily fall off it. People thought
that the edge of the world was a place full of monsters and
strange creatures. Yet when explorers suggested that the world
was round and that it was safe to travel far and wide they were
punished for these ideas. Today we know the Earth is round and
there is no edge to fall off and no monsters either, but for
the people who lived before us, those dangers were very real
in their own minds.
We can find
many examples of how science has revealed facts about life of
which we were ignorant. Scientists know, for instance, that
there are sounds that people are unable to hear and waves of
light which we cannot see. Special instruments have been made
to help us see these things, but without those tools we would
be ignorant of the fact that there are some things that we are
unable to detect with our own senses.
teach that as long as people remain ignorant of things about
the world, they will suffer from all kinds of misunderstandings
and delusions. But when people develop their minds and acquire
wisdom through study, careful thought and meditation, they will
see the Truth. They will see things as they really are. They
will understand the Buddha's teachings about suffering and impermanence
of life, and the Four Noble Truths will be clear to them. The
Buddha said that overcoming craving and ignorance leads to true
happiness and Enlightenment.
to end suffering in life is to understand what causes it. Craving
and ignorance are the two main causes of suffering. People suffer
with their craving for the pleasures of the senses and become
unsatisfied and disappointed until they can replace their cravings
with new ones. People suffer too when they are unable to see
the world as it really is and live with illusions about life
and fears, hopes, facts and behaviours based on ignorance. Craving
and misunderstanding can be solved by developing the mind, thinking
carefully and meditating. Solving these main causes of suffering
will lead a person to true happiness, just as it did for the
Buddha himself 2,500 years ago.