There Is No Suffering 41

Many people suffer because they are poor, or they think they are poor, and feel they do not have enough to be satisfied or happy. On the other hand, ordained sangha members take vows of poverty and they do not suffer from being poor. You can say that monks and nuns choose to be poor, whereas poor people have no choice. True, but poverty, in and of itself, does not automatically cause suffering. Suffering has many causes but it always depends on one’ s view and mental state. If you are not at ease, or if your mind is unstable, there will be suffering. Conversely, if you are calm and clear, there usually will be no suffering.

In the sutras there is a story of wealthy parents who became separated from their child. The boy grew up as a homeless, frightened beggar. When he was a young man he was reunited with his family, which took him in, loved him, fed, clothed, and cared for him. Yet, he never felt secure or happy because he did not trust his turn of fortune. He thought it must be a horrible trick to be treated like a king for a while and then, when he became comfortable, to be turned out again, or sacrificed in some barbaric ritual. Hence he suffered, even while living lavishly.

If you are fearful and doubtful, you will suffer no matter what. It is not due to the environment; it is due to your state of mind. For some, New York City is paradise, for others it is hell. Your karma may determine whether you find yourself in fortunate or unfortunate conditions, but your mind chooses to suffer.

Suffering Caused by the Body