Ways to Create Suffering and Happiness

Shi Yinyi
Shi Yinyi
Since 1998, I have been following the kind mentor of BPI to start the journey on Buddhism. ...Read More

  (Issue 11)
  Ways to Create Suffering and Happiness
  Instructor: Shi Wuguang
  Wang Huaigu(Shi Ziju)
  Author: Shi Yinyi
  December 16, 2022

Chapter 1 Preface

  People in the world generally think that eating, drinking, playing, amusing and receiving both fame and fortune is one of the great pleasures of life, without which people will not be able to live a tasty and delicious life and will live painfully. After a lifetime of chasing and chasing after the happiness that they recognize, which do you get in the end, suffering or happiness? What is behind the apparent happiness that seems to have been achieved? Few people have explored this. How does Buddhism view this suffering and happiness?

  The most important purpose of Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of the Buddhism of Saha, in this evil world of five turbidities, to manifest his greatly inconceivable wisdom and power is to regulate and subdue the stubborn and disobedient beings and let them know what is suffering and what is happiness. Then, do sentient beings know what is suffering and what is happiness? In the Treatise on Attaining Achievement by Great Wisdom, it is said that there are four kinds of being upside down of sentient beings, one of which is the distorting of happiness of in suffering. In the Volume 32 of Mahaparinirvana Sutra, it is also said, “All sentient beings practice all kinds of suffering, and their minds are perverted to think of them as happiness. In other words, sentient beings do not know at all what is suffering and what is happiness, and often take happiness as suffering and suffering as happiness. Then, what is suffering and happiness? Is the suffering and happiness that people in the world think of the suffering and happiness that the Buddha talks about the suffering and happiness that the Buddha talks about? Where does suffering come from? Where does happiness come from? What is the method of creating suffering and happiness?

  With these questions in mind, let us first understand what on earth suffering and happiness are. Secondly, we analyze what causes suffering and happiness, and then we analyze the methods of creating suffering and happiness, and finally we conclude that if one is greedy, he will be suffering, one is not greedy, he will be peaceful. This essay does not discuss all aspects of the methods of creating suffering and happiness but focuses on the point that greed brings suffering and non-greed brings happiness. I hope that the analysis in this article will help those who are interested and destined to know what the methods of creating suffering and happiness are.

Chapter 2 Knowledge of suffering and happiness

  Everyone has the delusion and attachment that having money, having power, having a good reputation, being rich, eating delicious food, wearing brand-name clothes, and having children who are competitive …… are all happy and enviable. On the contrary, if people live such a life that there is no money, no power, no fame or fortune, no good food and drink and fun, they are often very lost. They think it’s too painful to live like this. In fact, what people think of as a peaceful life is the accumulation of countless sufferings. Moreover, when there is no escape from the fixed karma, such as when one is terminally ill, when one is dying, when a disaster is coming, can the recognized money and power bring happiness and relieve the suffering brought by it? No. What seems to be peace and happiness is hidden behind it is suffering.

  In the Flower Adornment Sutra, it says, “The happiness of the world is nothing but suffering. It is the state of many demons, is the greed of the ignorant people, is the berating of the Buddhas, all suffering arises from these things.” All this worldly happiness is nothing but suffering. All these things that we like and hate in this world are the realm of the demons. Only a foolish person would covet and attach these things. The happiness of the world is what the Buddhas rebuke. All suffering arises from these things, and if one covets any of these things, one will create an infinite amount of suffering. If you covet any of these things, you will have infinite suffering. No matter what you covet, whether you covet food, drink, play, or anything else, you will end up with infinite suffering, which brings infinite pain and hidden sufferings. It is evident that what the people of the world thinks of as happiness is not happiness, but rather suffering. However, perverted beings have a perverse view of suffering and happiness, and almost always live with taking suffering as happiness, without realizing it.

  (1) Knowledge of Suffering

  What is suffering? Sufferings can be divided into two kinds of sufferings: physical and mental. On the one hand, there is physical suffering, which occurs in the body, the most obvious of which is the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death. Whether it is the pain caused by the disorders of four elements or the revenge of a grievance, it will cause the body a lot of pain.

  For example, toothache needs to be pulled out, appendicitis is so painful that it makes you roll around with embracing your stomach, and especially if you have cancer, you will die from the pain in the end. It was truly a painful and excruciating experience. Any point of the body is sick, is to suffer great pain. For example, when a person’s stomach is bloated due to his greed for delicious food, he can hardly be cured in the hospital, and the stomach acid erodes into his internal organs, and his life is almost over.

  Why does this happen? He is confused, does not know that gluttony is not good, does not know that here is a hidden opportunity to kill, is a lot of pain, has to rush into it, like a moth to a flame …

  The author has experienced physical pain, such as eating some sweet food, sometimes the teeth will hurt, and this sugar will provide a breeding ground and platform for those bacteria, so that the bacteria that specialize in gnawing on the nerve endings can quickly multiply. When it starts to gnaw on the nerve endings, the tooth starts to hurt, but when it doesn’t gnaw, the tooth doesn’t hurt. Toothache is not a disease, but when it hurts, it really kills you, and only those who have experienced it can experience the drilling-heart pain.

  On the other hand, there are psychological sufferings, such as the sufferings of not being able to get what one seeks, the sufferings of parting from loved ones, the sufferings of encountering those they hate and detest, the sufferings of being intense in the five skandhas in the eight sufferings, all of which belong to this aspect of suffering. For example, the sufferings of not being able to get what one seeks ,if you want to buy a certain thing you like most, but your pockets are empty, is that suffering? Is it painful to want to eat a certain tasty food at a certain time, but you don’t have it at home, and you can’t get it nearby. Is it painful when the person you love most becomes someone else’s other half? It is all painful to the extreme. There is also the pain of parting from loved ones, the loss of the most valuable and favorite things, the death of the best relationship, feeling as if a knife were being twisted in one’s heart. For example, a couple, the man found a new lover, the woman suddenly found it out, although the man is still in sight, but for the woman, it has produced a kind of separation. At the moment the woman finds it out, the pain has reached the extreme.

  From the above, it is easy to see that as long as one is covetous, it is suffering. Whether one is covetous of things or people, one’s body and mind are all in pain.

  (2) Knowledge of Happiness

  Having a brief understanding of suffering, what is happiness? In Volume 17 of the Sutra of the Great Square Equal and Large collection, it is written like this, “To be free from the love of material, sound, scent and taste and object of touch is called peace and happiness.”

  The Theory on Ten Dwelling Vipassana also states: “The happiness of five desires is not called peace and happiness, but for the sake of attaining pure peace and happiness in this life and the next life, one enters into the three vehicles, it is called peace and happiness.”

  In the Sixth Edit, Dharma Appearance and Mere Consciousness Learning, it is said, “To be able to quickly leave the means of having the affliction is called peace and happiness.” That is to say, to be far away from the means of having the affliction is called peace and happiness.

  From the above scriptures, it is clear that not craving for the five desires and being far away from the affliction is peace and happiness.

Chapter 3 The way to create suffering and happiness

  From the previous section, we have a preliminary understanding of suffering and happiness. And all sentient beings usually yearn for happiness, but do not know how to practice the cause of happiness, or even just practice the cause of suffering. As the Mahaparinirvana Sutra says, “All sentient beings often desire peace and happiness, but do not know how to cultivate the cause of peace and happiness.” So, what are the ways to create suffering and happiness?

  (1) The method of creating suffering

  What is the method of creating suffering? In the Lotus Sutra, it says, “All suffering is caused by greed. “It is also stated in the Missing Buddha Deeds of Three Periods that all sufferings arise from greed, which means that greed is the root of suffering in Buddhism and all sufferings arise from it. At the same time, it also shows that greed is a way to create suffering. For example, if you are accustomed to eating three meals a day, it is painful to not eat on any day, but it is comfortable to eat, especially your favorite foods.

  Once you catch these favorites, you will be led by the satan of greed to eat and drink without restraint, resulting in a large number of diseases: diabetes, high blood fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, kidney stones, etc., which bring countless suffering. These diseases are supported by full of food, where do these pains come from? From greed for eating.

  For example, when diabetes develop to the last serious time, the internal organs are in waste little by little, and in this process of being waste, the pain is gradually increasing, and finally the pain is to the extreme, it cannot function, and the person also dies. There is also liver failure, liver is useless, and kidney fails, kidney is useless. Why do organs fail? Exploring to the beginning, it is just greed.

  Su Dongpo once famously said, “Eat after you are hungry, stop before you are not full. However, modern people have the opposite concept, and usually eat before they are not hungry, drink before they are not thirsty, eat as many meals a day as they want. This makes the body organs overload operation, resulting in the body’s various organs pressure is particularly large, there is no way to get enough rest, and then after getting to a certain critical point, like a dam, its water suddenly burst out, it can not withstand, there will often be sudden death.

  The suffering caused by greedy eating and drinking is described in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra: “All sickness and suffering are due to eating and drinking”. The whole body suffers from all kinds of pains and sufferings because of eating and drinking.

  In Volume 34 of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, it is also stated, “Love is the root of all afflictions; all diseases are caused by retained food.

  It is also stated in Volume 11 of the Flower Adornment Sutra: “Good man! I have told you that all diseases grow at any time. The sickness of the body arises from the retained food.”

  From the above, we can see that gluttony brings suffering to the body. Not only that, but also the demon of greed will lead you to kill, steal, speak falsely and other evil karma. The author stole because I was greedy for food. When I saw a ripe melon or fruit in someone’s field, I picked it and stole money from my parents and friends in exchange for my favorite food. In order to cover up the theft, I even made false accusations against others. In order to eat some animal carcass, I kill them myself or teach others to do so. The consequences of such evil deeds are not to be ignored by me, but the cause and effect are never ignored. For example, if one kills a living being because of greed, the result is suffering. Greed is a way to create suffering, and when it is present, suffering follows.

  The above is only a discussion of the suffering caused by greed for food. The same is true for greed for drink, fun, pleasure, beautiful clothes, etc. When the greed arises, suffering is already created, no matter what you are greedy for, as long as there is greed for you. For example, when I shop on Taobao, I choose to buy goods that are on sale at a good price and discounted.

  At the moment of purchase I am very happy, think I have earned a lot, cheaper than to buy them before the event. However, after getting it in hand, I only find that it is not satisfactory. From now on, whenever I use and think about it, I feel pain in my heart, especially when I spend more money on something, the pain is doubled. The Sutra on the inquiring of Removal of Covered Obstacles Boddhisattva Preached by the Buddha provides the best explanation: “The great sufferings of the world and the disasters of the world, are without pause in the world, and the beings are covered by the long-suffering ignorance and obscurations, all of them are caused by greed, and are conditioned by greed.”

  If greed is the cause of all suffering, does anger, ignorance, arrogance, doubt, and even the 20 kinds of branch afflictions also bring suffering? The answer is yes. Let’s take anger and arrogance as examples to briefly explain them.

  I have a very strong anger, and when I am not satisfied with something slightly, I will get angry. I once had a falling out with someone I cared about most, and because I was so arrogant and unwilling to bow down, I began to be coldly violent, and it lasted for a long time. In those days, I was extremely bored, without a smile, but with a bitter face all day long, trying to squeeze out a smile but being able not to squeeze out. I am also not in the mood at work, I am also reluctant to do housework, so the family is a mess. Moreover, when people around me see that I am depressed all day long, they are also unhappy. As you can see, all sufferings are generated as long as you create something with greed, anger, arrogance and so on.

  It is also worth mentioning that anger, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt are also methods of creating suffering, which means that the creation of any kind of afflictions tends to suffering. As the Sutra on Mahayana Contemplation Generating from Heartland Originally says, “All sufferings are not without cause, but are rooted in all sorts of afflictions.” It is clear that all sufferings are caused by all kinds of afflictions. As long as we follow these afflictions, all sufferings will follow us as the shadow follows the body.

  But of all the afflictions, if there is no greed, the other afflictions cannot stand, because greed is the root. In the Brief Digest of the yoga masters’ State Treatise, it is said, “Greed is the root that all afflictions arises from.” From this, it is clear that greed is the root cause of all kinds of afflictions.

  In summary, the way to create sufferings is greed, and with it there are sufferings.

  (2) The Way to Create Happiness

  What is the purpose of studying Buddhism? It is for the sake of peace and happiness. This is also the purpose of the Buddha’s appearance in the world. What is Buddhism? It is wisdom. Create happiness for oneself according to the wisdom of the Buddha’s teachings, and this happiness is not the apparent happiness, but the ultimate happiness. The Buddha’s dharma is what gives people ultimate happiness. This is the key to creating peace and happiness according to the Buddha’s teachings, as stated in Volume 2 of the Sutra of Great, Square, Wide Treasure Suitcase : “All peace and happiness without suffering and distress is called the Buddhas’ teachings. How to create peace and happiness according to the Dharma specifically is the key. Generally speaking, people are blindly unaware of what to do in order to achieve happiness. In the end, things do not go as one wishes, and instead of happiness, endless pain is caused.

  The Volume 44 of Miscellaneous Agama Sutra says: “Cut off desire and detach from conjugal love, and you will be able to dwell in peace and happiness.”

  The Sutra of Great Jewel Accumulated also says, “I do not desire love, but desire is scorned by the Buddha. If I am free from desire and love, I will become a celestial and human teacher.”

  From this, we can see that not being covetous is the way to happiness, and if we cut off covetousness and love, we can live in happiness. Moreover, if one is free from craving and love, one can become a Buddha, which does not achieve a little happiness, but the ultimate great happiness. In general, when people in the world leave their cravings, they are happy in body and mind.

  For example, if a loving couple does not have this kind of greed, they will not think that the other person is theirs, and they will not be suspicious of each other all the time, and they will not even stalk each other and control each other like a prisoner, making the other live like a prison.

  The two will respect each other like guests, respect and tolerate each other’s everything, even if the other is with other men and women, he or she will not be sad, because they do not think that the other is theirs, which is greedy, they can face it openly, and even joyfully bless and thank each other. If parents do not think that their children are their own, they have to obey everything they do and strictly control everything they do, including marriage and career. Even if the other person is already 60 or 70 years old, they are still children in the eyes of their parents, thinking that they do not know anything and have to interfere in everything. Is there any happiness in such a life? Not only is there no happiness, but it is also rapidly destroying the cause and condition between father and son, mother and daughter, because the least respect between them is gone, and they are only making bad condition.

  If we do not have greed for people, and if we get along with each other in a harmonious way, our families, working place, and even the whole society will be happy. What about money, property, fame and gain? The same is true. Without greed, people are also happy. As the Buddha said in the Sutra on Mahayana Contemplation Generating from Heartland Originally: “Just as a small fire can burn all plants and trees, so is a house in this world, and so is a greedy mind that seeks and travels in all directions. If you have something, you do not have enough, so you pursue it at all times; if you have nothing, you pursue it day and night,giving rise to hot afflictions in your mind. Therefore, all the houses in the world can give rise to an infinite amount of fires of vexation, and for the sake of covetousness there is always no contentment. The world’s treasures are like grass and trees, and the covetous mind is like the world’s dwelling houses; for this reason, all Buddhas say that the three realms are called dwelling houses of fire.”

  Moreover, the Sutra on the Names of the Buddhas Preached by the Buddha states, “A person who has many desires has many sufferings and distressing. A man who knows his own contentment is happy even though he lies on earth. He who does not know his own contentment is not satisfied even though he is in heaven.

  The above shows that not being greedy is the only way to be happy, and not being greedy is the way to attain happiness, and so is not being angry, not being ignorant, not being arrogant, and not being suspicious. For example, the author is very suspicious and is in a state of doubt all day long, not only of people but also of things. Not long ago, I bought a pair of nail scissors, and the moment I saw the package, I was very disappointed because they were too small, what kind of scissors are they? They were definitely unused parallel goods, and I began to resent the merchant for cheating due to doubt, and this resentment continued until I used the scissors and found that they were small, exquisite, sharp, and easy to use.

  Just because of a thought of doubt, the thought of doubt led to anger, which caused me to suffer for several days. If we look into this doubt and anger forth, we will find that at the very beginning, at the very root, it is actually greed. On the contrary, if there is no greed, when I first see the package, I will not have doubts, and I will not have anger even more, and I will naturally be happy in mind.

  Of course, not being greedy is only one of the ways to create happiness, such as kindness, compassion, happiness, and contentment, the Four Absorbing Methods, the Six Perfections, precepts, meditation, wisdom, protection of the Dharma and so on. All of these are practicing the cause of happiness and making the condition of happiness, and the effect must be happiness. The following scriptures support that these methods lead to happiness:

  In the Sutra of Great Jewel Accumulated, it is said, “Compassion removes the vexation of following the demons, and it is the power of compassion that leads to happiness. It is the power of compassion that enables people to live in happiness together.” Compassion can remove the vexations and make people happy.

  In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, it is said, “Those who practice good deeds are rewarded with happiness, and those who hold precepts are happy and do not suffer in body, and those who have done all things are the happiest.” Holding the precepts makes one happy and not suffering in body.

  It is also mentioned in the The Maha Prajna Paramita Sutra: “The giving of the Six Perfection can also bring happiness to all sentient beings.”

  Also, in the Miscellaneous Agama Sutra, it is said, “Practicing the right Dharma will bring happiness.”

  And the Sutra of the Great Square Equal and Large collection also says, “If you want to be happy, you should protect the right Dharma.” Practicing the right Dharma protecting and upholding the right Dharma can also lead to peace and happiness!

  To sum up, the way to create happiness is not to be greedy!

Chapter 4 Summary

  As a disciple of the Buddha, one must be clear to understand what suffering and happiness are, not only to understand them, but also to master precisely how to create suffering and happiness. In this essay, I have explored the methods of creating suffering and happiness in a very simple way, and I have gained a certain understanding of suffering and happiness. I am clear that greed and non-greed are the root cause of suffering and happiness, and finally, I have confirmed that greed is suffering, and non-greed is happiness!

  The main point of this essay is that greed brings endless suffering, which is the way to create suffering, while non-greed brings infinite happiness, which is the way to create happiness. The text only captures this root for a preliminary inquiry, while the other methods of creating suffering and happiness are only briefly discussed. In fact, the root of these methods is still the same: greed.

  Once one has mastered these methods of creation, one is free to create one’s own destiny for the future. It’s entirely up to you to take control of whether it is towards the abyss of suffering or the path to happiness. Therefore, it is important to have a thorough understanding of suffering and happiness, and to be skilled in the methods of creation, and to use them flexibly.

  Finally, when they know, if they want to be happy, they will choose happiness, and if they want to be suffering, they will choose suffering. This is also the author’s purpose of writing this essay. May all those who have the condition have the wisdom to choose and create a beautiful and happy destiny!

  Reference Materials

  I. Ancient texts (in chronological order of dynasties)
  〔East Jin〕Translated by Faxian: the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, vol. 1 of Da Zheng Zang.
  〔Later Qin〕Translated by Kumarajiva: The Treatise on Attaining Achievement by Great Wisdom, vol. 25, Daizhengzang
  〔Later Qin〕Translated by Kumarajiva: The Lotus Sutra, vol. 9, Dazhengzang.
  〔Later Qin〕Translated by Kumarajiva: The Maha Prajna Paramita Sutra, vol. 8, Dazhengzang.
  〔Northern Liang〕Translated by Tangwuchan: the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, vol. 12, Dazhengzang.

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