There Is No Suffering 40

Practitioners can conjure all kinds of mental obstructions. A man practicing with another teacher saw a gigantic spider every time he meditated. He believed it to be a demon coming to torment him. When he could no longer stand it, he decided to hide a large knife by his side so he could stab the spider when it appeared. His teacher told him that such an action would not be compassionate, and instead of using a knife, he should use a calligraphy brush to put a mark on the spider when it appeared. Then next time the spider came the man did as was suggested, and when he marked the spider, it instantly disappeared. Afterward, his teacher told him to look at his own body. The man found a brush mark painted on his belly. Seeing this, the man understood how close he had come to killing himself. He was a frightened and angry person, and the spider was a mental manifestation of his extreme emotions. This striking anecdote shows how the mind in practice can sometimes create dangerous situations.

I need not elaborate on the dangers in our daily lives; they are everywhere. Some we bring upon ourselves, others seem to come of their own accord. Danger exists overtly and covertly in many of our modern-day plagues: hunger, environmental pollution, economic oppression, and class struggle. It also exists in the violent and life-threatening situations we sometimes face.

Suffering as a Psychological State

Suffering need not be aches and pains, just as aches and pains do not always cause suffering. Pain is physical; suffering is psychological. Strangely enough, not accepting physical pain always leads to suffering. For instance, if you try to resist the pain in your legs when you meditate, that is suffering. Suffering is often the result of how we react to life situations. Physical pain or danger often leads to suffering, but it does not have to . It depends on your perspective and state of mind.