Sufferings come in limitless forms. They can however be classified to eight general kinds:
1. Suffering of birth: the moment the baby’s skin comes in contact with the ambient air, it really hurts! Maybe that’s why they tend to cry at birth. Never mind you might say. It’s at best a temporary unpleasant experience that most of us do not remember. Right you are, how about the:
2. Suffering of old age: our body no longer is willing to cooperate with us. We spend a lifetime nurturing it, pampering it and bestowing great generosities toward it. However, there will come a time where it no longer listens to our commands or requests. Don’t you hate it when you discover another furrow on our forehead or that additional strand of grey hair? Not only is the aging process most unnerving, it also has a seemingly inseparable buddy: the
3. Suffering of sickness: this body of ours seems to attract illnesses like honey attracts flies. When we were young, they tend to be manageable. As we get older they unfortunately seem to be increasingly more out of control. The average life span of the people who live in developed countries may appear to increase but their quality of life definitely seems to decrease by the forever increasing number of incurable illnesses. They are most disconcerting because they presage the:
4. Suffering of death: the ultimate fear factor for most living creatures. Like that cockroach that speedily scurries away from you out of fear that you might step on it or spray it with some kind of toxic materials, all of us want to put it off as long as we can. As to the
5. Suffering of being apart from the loved ones: when I was growing up in Vietnam, it’s not uncommon for my little sister to tear up whenever we went to the airport to see a family member off. Love feels good but also hurts, doesn’t it?
6. Suffering of being with those we hate: Don’t you hate it when you have to put up with someone you detest? Wouldn’t be good to be able to make him/her disappear from the face of the earth? Perhaps that where the inventors of those terrible atomic/hydrogen/neutron bombs got their inspiration.
7. Suffering of not able to get what we want: As long as we have desire, as long as we long for things, we inevitably suffer from profound disappointments. Wives often find that their husband do not understand them. Parents too often find their children to be ungrateful and naïve. Grand-parents all but must often resign to neglect from their offspring.
8. Suffering of the raging five skandhas: this is where I think Buddhism tends to get too far. It’s bad enough that the previous seven are that overwhelming. This one by far is the worst because we don’t even know that there is such kind of suffering: of form, feeling, thinking, activity and consciousness. I’ll spare you this one for now.
If you find yourself in suffering, just remember to sincerely invoke Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. If you can do so with utmost sincerity, you get immediate relief!
How come? It’s because that Bodhisattva thoroughly understands sufferings. She has a great understanding of sufferings after enduring all sorts of sufferings. Over time, she ended all her sufferings and resolved to help others end their sufferings. That’s her life’s purpose: put an end to living beings’ suffering.
To those of us who are deeply indebted to her, I have a suggestion. Let’s follow her footstep: end our own suffering and try to end the sufferings of those around us