International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) 1715 6165 | Library & Archives Canada Entry
- Overcoming Suffering [editorial note];
- Kaddu Sabzi [recipe];
- What is a fulfilling relationship?
Overcoming Suffering- Enduringly [editorial note]
by Parmjit Singh, PhD
There are two kinds of suffering: the suffering that leads to more suffering and the suffering that leads to the end of suffering. If you are not willing to face the second kind of suffering, you will surely continue to experience the first.—Ajah Chah, Still Forest Pool
Ajah Chah’s wise statement rings so true about human condition. Most of us are so afraid to suffer a little in the short term that we unwittingly elect to bear the cross for the most part of our life. Even though we all want to get rid of suffering and lead a happy and healthy life, sometimes our delusional thinking and narrow-minded approach to life can eventually cement the very thing we were trying to get rid of. How many times do we end up being unhappy while trying to be happy? Why does that happen? Why do our honest efforts sometimes bring about exactly the opposite of what we were looking for?
Buddhist philosophy explains this paradox. It says that we suffer from three things: Suffering of suffering, Suffering of change and All-pervasive suffering. Going a little deeper into these concepts reveal what hampers us from getting rid of suffering. For one, it is our fundamental misunderstanding of the basic laws of life which perpetuates the cycle of suffering and pain.
Let us explore these three precepts further. The first, Suffering of suffering is easier to understand. If for example, you have a toothache, you will be doing everything to relieve that pain: may be by visiting a dentist or resorting to short term pain-killing methods or anything which brings relief to you. Every time you feel pain, it is normal human reaction to avoid it or find a solution for. Roughly, this precept relates to suffering at physical level or due to material shortage.
The second one, Suffering of change, is more devious and is probably a source of endless hardships in our life. It is this precept which we should take seriously while going through daily business of eating, speaking, shopping, relating, etc. Suffering of change means that our mind has difficult time hanging on to a source/thing for permanent satisfaction. Say for example, you bought a new car and buying so assumed that this new car will always bring you permanent source of happiness and satisfaction. But that really does not happen, if you recall. Very soon when excitement wore off, you fell back into the old state of dissatisfaction. The car which you enjoyed and were so eager to buy one day no longer brings you the same kind of enjoyment. You will be itching to get a new one, thinking that the newer car will bring that elusive satisfaction. This is what is called suffering of change. We suffer because we our mind is never content with what we have—it is always keeping us on the run, one goal after another.
This mindset, and its resultant consequences, is also reinforced by our consumerist culture. We are told that if you are not satisfied with one thing, buy another or buy an expensive one. But we forget in this circus that the person who buys the stuff remains the same; regardless of what s/he owns or wears; if there is no contentment in heart nothing else is going to quash that annoying feeling of ‘not being home’. A miserable person wearing designer labels or driving luxury car still remains miserable!
Third precept is called all-pervasive suffering and is considered to be birthplace for the first two categories. In order to get rid of all the suffering we go through, it advocates, we need to seek liberation from the very causes which lie at the heart of all the mental afflictions. Buddhists believe that it is only when we seek liberation at a deeper level that we come to understand how we unwittingly keep on creating unhappiness for ourselves and others.
To deal with suffering, we need to get to the bottom of its deeper causes. It is not sufficient to attend to shallow causes because that kind of approach provides only ad-hoc solutions. In our society, we have become used to these kinds of ad-hoc approaches and it is reflected in almost every conceivable sphere of human activity. For example, we have destroyed our environment while trying to make quick bucks or asserting control over natural resources; we have created an egoistic medicine where medication is more respected than the person whom it is being fed; our social fabric is under increasing tremendous strain because we are so smitten by ‘our independent life style’; we are always trying to act against nature or life as aggressors through ‘conquest of cancer, battle against heart diseases, beating stress, etc.’ as if these diseases are curse from evil external force. This separatist attitude toward problems, as if they have descended from outer space without our bidding, keeps us from finding enduring solutions to our personal problems.
It is only when we think of life, its problems and inter-connection with everybody around that we come to understand the real causes of the problems. Getting rid of mental afflictions such as depression, anger, fear, hopelessness and social problems is a possible task as long as we are willing to look for their real causes without resorting to cosmetic solutions. It is a hard road, but worthwhile.
The real question is: do you want to have an enduring riddance from afflictions or a temporary escape? The answer to that question will determine your own intention and willingness to embark upon a fruitful mission. [HQ]
- I lb pumpkin (the yellow flesh, usually available in Jamaican stores), peeled and cubed
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1tsp coriander seeds
- 1tsp turmeric powder
- 1 small onion, diced
- ½ inch gingerroot, grated
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1tbsp whipping cream
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add cumin and coriander seeds. Just when they begin to sputter, add onion and ginger. Keep stirring until the onion is golden brown. Then add turmeric and tomatoes. When the tomatoes are tender add pumpkin, cream, salt and pepper. Mix everything well on a high heat, then simmer and cover the skillet. After about ten minutes, take a look and stir once again; the pumpkin would have released a lot of water. Cover and continue cooking for another ten to fifteen minutes, until the pumpkin is completely mushy. Finally turn up the heat and dry out the excessive liquid. Transfer to the serving dish and garnish with any of your favorite fresh herb. This serves as a great side dish to rice, noodles or salad and can also be had with any of your favorite breads. Enjoy!
What is a fulfilling relationship? Answered by Parmjit Singh, PhD
Asked by a participant in Food for Thought series.
A fulfilling relationship is the one in which partners engage with each other through surrender, compassion, generosity, kindness and genuine desire to see their partners or friends happy. This kind of relationship is born out of deep sense of personal respect, contentment in one’s own life and general understanding that we all want to be happy and loved.
Relationship in this sense moves from simple give-and-take equation into deeper partnership of shared aspirations and spiritual fulfillment. Once both partners take this approach, relationship becomes much more selfless, nurturing and progressive.