For some time, it remained a mystery to the author why the Buddha would say such a thing. But one day, one realizes this with one’s own experiences in life. With insight born of deep reflection, it became more apparent, as direct personal experience does confirm it.
Firstly, do we know what suffering is? Well, it is basically expecting to receive from the world what it is not going to deliver. This is true in life, and this includes religion.
In fact it is even more valid with religion, which promises you such fantastical and far-fetched beliefs, often to be accepted with blind faith, coupled with doses of “or else” and downright punishment which leaves one cowering like a helpless child in fear and trepidation in the midst of the irrationality thrown in; sometimes, one is hard-pressed to find ways to extricate oneself from such self-inflicted suffering beyond all common sense and sense of proportion, that one resorts to counseling/relief from a third party called the psychiatrist.
The question to ask also is: ‘What did the supposed deity do in all of these?’ One is afraid to venture questions farther because one is entering the realm of taboos, fear of the unseen, the supposedly omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent entity.
In that case, don’t you think that it is much more logical to ask that if such were the case with all these touted deity’s attributions, what has it done to alleviate our suffering – the famine in Africa, the landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis, floods, the kidnappings, shootings, tortures, etc. ad infinitum, which if one were to follow the argument, are within the purview of his capacity to avert? And still, to top these conundrums, we are then advanced stock answers like “these are his punishments to sinful man.” If he is so hell-bent on these nefarious activities, then he has no redeeming quality and love to dispense with, and is, therefore, not worthy of respect, let alone of worship. And while we’re at it, how on earth can you justify the death of a child, to cite just a simple example, who surely would be unable to commit a crime deserving of the above-mentioned horrors?
Yet, we keep on clinging to our chosen worldview because they are predictable and closer to oneself even if they are the root causes of our suffering. (Far be it for me to suggest that one should abandon such ideas; rather, we should see them for what they are – products of our own ignorance.)
The best way to solve a problem is to acknowledge its existence, analyze its causes and then act with wisdom accordingly as befits the human condition.
So how do we dispel ignorance, this evil more powerful than all the denizens of hell?
In the case of the religious, your answer should be: know the true nature of God/gods and don’t give me the stock answer that he/she/it is a mystery so it is impossible to fathom his nature. If I were given such an answer, I would simply reply “I don’t think so; somebody must have known the said deity to come up with his attributed definitions and, I must know this entity as well.”
I’d be a fool to simply accept such statements blindly especially as it supposedly dispenses punishments (all the while remaining invisible) for purportedly not following his dictates.
Or even better still, know the nature of reality. These are our assignments as human beings. In short, become enlightened.
To use our faculties to see reality as it is, not how we want it to be. If we don’t, we might as well be a bunch of fauna fleeting through earth without having to use consciousness for intelligent ends. And I have more confidence that nature is more capable of fulfilling this latter capability than all the deities put together.
You don’t use your intelligence or reasoning power, then you’re wasting it. Might as well put you in animal form as animals don’t have to do anything intelligent. Instinctive yes, but nothing too intelligent. The poor things are stuck in their predicament as animals. They are at the mercy of the elements, their predators, their condition and their environment. No way out! Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you see it, we are at these crossroads.
Expectations are the direct source of frustration. Simply put, when your expectation is not met, you become frustrated, depressed, angry or disillusioned as the case maybe.
Life deals us with all sorts of situations, positive, negative or neutral. It is not so much that we must force ourselves to always be all positive, but to take stock and be mindful of our attitude towards any given situation.
Plus, we are bound to make some mistakes along the way. So what? Life is a learning process, a growing up process.
The thing is, we should not leave it at that. One needs to Acknowledge, Forgive and Learn , and not get bogged down in it, for the best way to be in this latter situation is to say: “God will save me. Though I know I’m sinking, God is on my side so I’m okay.” I would rejoin this immediately, not with an “Amen”, but with “What a load of boules Quiès!”
However, because we tend to gravitate towards the predictable, we stick to it; we don’t want to venture into the unknown which, to our general perception, is fraught with danger and unnamable misfortunes.
Do not subscribe to the word of these merchants of delusion in the garb of priests, ministers and so called holy men, who have convinced themselves (and not a few) that they truly are God’s gift to mankind.
Rather, for once, let us fulfill our destiny by being wholly and truly human. Do not be content with mediocrity. Give it your all without any expectations. Only then can we say with certainty “I’ll be okay.”