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Three Types of Suffering

Symbols of Combat 

First, there is the suffering of suffering. This level of suffering is easy to recognize and relatively easy to find solutions for. It includes physical and mental pain. Even animals can understand this level of suffering.   


Second, there is the suffering of change. With awareness, or mindfulness, one observes that suffering comes when things change. At first, some objects and events appear desirable – they do look as if they will bring happiness, and for a time they do. However, when time passes and circumstances change, the same desirable objects and events can turn into something undesirable, something one wants to avoid. Because of changing circumstances, our view of objects or events also changes. 


In reality, everything is impermanent. The reason that change brings suffering is because we want things to remain as they are


To get an insight into how this happens, we need an understanding of the gross levels of impermanence, how things come into being, remain, then cease, by the power of others. They arise by the power of others, while they remain they are still under the power of others and their cessation depends on the power of others. Nothing happens independently. If we really understand that very gross level of impermanence and how we have so little freedom, it will help us understand the more subtle levels of impermanence. 


This process of change has the nature to produce some kind of 

suffering. We all know things change, but we need to know this at more than an intellectual level; it must be at the heart level. Things are changing, and these changing processes (whether human emotions or actions are involved or not) have the potential to bring unhappiness. 


I am not saying the nature of change itself is suffering. There is a big difference. The change from autumn to winter itself is not suffering but it has the nature to bring some kind of suffering because we cling on to what is there and do not want to lose it.  


There is nothing wrong with enjoyment, but when we are attracted to something we have to bear in mind that it will change. If we are not really aware of that changing nature, then when this change comes, as it must, it will be a big shock. Through constant effort, we can avoid falling prey to strong emotions which lead to strong suffering.
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