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Volume 9 Issue No. 4
From the Editor

Less Thinking, Less Suffering

In 1991, when hikers discovered the well-preserved body of a 5,000-year-old "ice man" in a glacier 10,500 feet above sea level at the Austria/Italy border, they found him wearing a pair of leather foot coverings stuffed with straw. Elsewhere in Spain, cave drawings of more than 15,000 years show humans with animal skins or furs wrapped around their feet. Apparently, shoes in some form or another have been around for a very long time. Shoes are indeed a clever invention: they protect the feet since time immemorial from hard and rough surfaces as well as climate and environmental exposure. They give us the freedom to go about taking care of our needs.

While shoes offer us physical protection for our feet regardless of the external conditions and circumstances, we have little to safeguard our mind from fluctuating whenever the external conditions and circumstances change. In this regard, we have little to protect the mind.

This world of ours is called the "Sea of Suffering". In order to live, we have to endure suffering because many things in life are beyond our control. Thus, our world is also called "Saha world"; Saha meaning 'enduring suffering'. Lest one disagrees, just look at the pains of birth, of growing old, of poor health and sickness and finally death. What about the anguish of being separated from those we love, being in the presence of those we dislike, and not getting what we desire? Lastly, the imbalance in the way we perceive the objects of form arising from the five senses; the ensuing feelings, the thinking of the mind, the mental activity in processing the likes and dislikes and the resulting consciousness (Five Skandhas). The mind is constantly besieged by these Eight Distresses. Regardless of whether one is the world's wealthiest or cleverest man, he is not spared from having to endure sufferings as part of life.

Therefore, Buddha said:

"Abstain from all evil, Perform all virtue, Completely purify the mind."


A completely pure mind is devoid of thinking, grasping and attachment and it therefore will not hold any suffering. Thinking is like a container for suffering. The moment thinking starts, the seed of suffering is sown. If there is no such container, then, there is no place for suffering to exist. A pure mind spontaneously forms the correct relationship with the situation and does whatever needs doing at that moment. Without thinking and attachment, like or dislike does not exist in our mind. Thus, we will not find ourselves in the presence of one whom we dislike. Is there suffering arising from not getting what you desire? No, because a completely pure mind has none of the worldly desires. Similarly, it has no birth, no old age, no sickness, and death; the Five Skandhas are empty. They are the products of our mind.

Enduring these Eight Distresses, though, is not the ultimate because it does not eliminate suffering. We merely put up with it in order to live, and under these circumstances, our lives become unsatisfactory. Thus, while we have shoes to safeguard our feet, it will serve us well to do less thinking, because the less we think, the less we have to suffer.

Be with Buddha.


© Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre
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