The Shit Paper
We don't eat to shit,
we don't shit to produce manure
November 2002

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If I had to express the Buddhist teaching with one single word it would be "suffering".

Shakyamuni decided to leave home and become a monk after encountering the four sufferings of birth, ageing, sickness and death. He then awakened to the truth of suffering and taught it thruoghtout his lifetime. His teaching starts with the noble truth of suffering, and it is said that he repeatedly confirmed his deciples understanding of the four noble truths (suffering, attachment, the extinction of attachment and the eightfold path) during the last moments of his life, and then gladly let go of his body, which he called the source of suffering.

First, what are the four noble truths?
The first noble truth is "dukkha", which is translated as "suffering", but actually means the un-satisfactoriness of everything: Wherever we go, what ever we do, we will never be 100% satisfied. One part of us can never get "satisfaction".
Next, there is "attachment". The reason why we are never satisfied is that we think we have to be satisfied in the fist place. If we could let this thought go - stop trying to be satisfied - we would realize that life is not that unsatisfactory after all.
This leads to the third noble truth, the "extinction of attachment". If we stop craving for satisfaction, we naturally stop being "not satisfied".
But - fourth truth - this must be no theoretical understanding, but has to be put into practice in our daily life. This daily life of letting go our deep rooted thought: "I want satisfaction" - is what is called walking the Buddhist path.

There is a big trap here, though:
"If I practice Buddhism and stop thinking of wanting to be satisfied, I will be liberated from my suffering, and every day of my life will be happy."
This seems to be a logical conclusion of the above. We suffer, because we want to be satisfied. We will only be really satisfied, if we stop trying to be satisfied.

But: If we "try to" let go of thinking that we want to be satisfied, just to be really satisfied, we are not really letting go. We are just getting even more attached. Because "letting go" does not mean that we are "letting go to be satisfied". It is this thought that "we really want to be satisfied", that we have to let go of.

This is why I said in the beginning that Buddhism means "suffering".
In Buddhism, "liberation" does not mean that we are liberated "from" suffering. Rather, we approach and accept suffering completely, becoming one with it. Thus we embrace suffering, and suffering embraces us. This is what is meant by letting go of the thought of wanting to be satisfied.

If we let go in this way and become one with suffering, the "I" that thinks that it suffers will disappear, just as that what appears to make "us" suffering. The only reality is that of un-satisfactoriness, the reality of this life here and now, which is independent from our thoughts and desires.