Cause of Suffering -
Reflecting Generations of Ignorance
Buddha taught that ignorance is the cause of suffering, so what did he mean by
We all know that the fire is hot and therefore we do not put our hands too close
because we know that the fire will cause pain and physical damage. We know that
if we drive our cars ridiculously, then we are likely to crash causing pain and
suffering to one's self and others.
Some of us learned from our parents and avoided putting our hands into the fire
and therefore avoided that unpleasant suffering. Some of us however had to learn
the hard way and experienced that pain - but we learned. Similarly some of us
drove carefully and had avoided such suffering whereas others have not and of
course many of them have paid with their lives.
At a physical level, once one has understood a some basic physical principles,
suffering can be avoided. Yet we suffer in so many other ways which dramatically
affects our behaviour and as a consequence the nature of our society and
The person who always believes that they are always right is generally a tyrant
who inflicts suffering on others in order to be happy and happiness is something
that we all aspire to.
We need to understand that most of our actions are about achieving some kind of
peace and happiness, but if we look at our world and our own lives, we often see
that our peace and happiness is dependent on the behaviour of other people.
Because we are physical beings we have a certain degree of interdependency upon
our physical environment as well as other people. We depend on our environment
for food and shelter, and we depend on other people to assist us in the process
This need for others is a fundamental aspect of our reality because in today's
world there are none of us who could live in complete isolation. Therefore we
have conjured up systems of living and political arrangements to manage those
systems. We have tried tyranny, fascism, communism, socialism, capitalism and
democracy. All of these systems have worked to some degree and all the
populations have adjusted to living under these systems.
Before going any further we must consider what is happiness?
we think about how we scale our life experience, we can see that happiness grows
from peace and joy grows from happiness. From there we can progress to bliss and
ecstasy. But if there is no peace, there can be no happiness, joy, bliss or
ecstasy because without peace one is trapped in suffering.
Suffering includes poor health and diseases of body and mind. In the Western
world we tend to think that we are 'kind of okay' because we have had some kind
of education and some training to make our way or survive in the world which
passes off as a kind of quasi-happiness, but in reality this is a fantasy.
Knowledge of the world is no substitute for knowing one's self. Knowledge of the
world is a good thing because such knowledge means we are less likely to put our
hand in the fire or step off the edge of a cliff. Or perhaps I should say in
more modern terms 'one may avoid gambling' so as not to have one's life
regulated by the toss of the dice or the fluctuations of the stock markets.
Knowing one's self is a controversial topic in the English speaking world
because the main thrust of western civilisation has been about manipulating life
and seeking temporary happiness at any cost. If we look back to the British East
India company and others like it, they used slavery, genocide and blatant theft
to acquire various kinds of profits in order to give themselves the means of
acquiring short-term pleasure.
People who seek a short-term pleasure have yet to rise from suffering and find
that fundamental level of peacefulness in their lives from which happiness and
other boons can emerge.
Therefore it is my contention that the majority of people in the world who have
for generations been afflicted by imperialism and colonialism are trapped in
suffering because their rationale for happiness is dependent on events outside
of themselves. This includes the populations of capitalist and imperialist
To help understand this, please realise that there are only two directions in
One direction is looking outwards which involves involvement in the life outside
of yourself from which you partake in activities for your well-being and
The other direction is to turn and look inwards. This is a spiritual journey
where by looking inwards, the individual comes to know the nature of their own
existence and is enabled to take responsibility for one's self. Then the
individual can relieve their own suffering and find peace. It is from that
position which some Buddhists refer to as 'calm abiding', that the foundations
are laid for the boons of happiness and joy.
However, in the Western world this activity has been discouraged because to take
time to examine one's own nature, one must detach a little from the activities
of the world which means that when you detach, you are not contributing to the
happiness of the corporate masters. Remember the thrust of western civilisation
is that life is all about profit and although capitalism has been democratised
to a certain extent, the system is still dependent on slavery for it to
The other obstacle to internal exploration is religion. There is a version of
Christianity that says that God made heaven and earth some six or seven thousand
years ago whereas scientists would have you believe that there was a big bang
some 4.5 billion years ago and that we are just a chance happening. Christianity
would have us believe that God made us in his own image, but where does that
While there are two directions in life, there are allso two aspects to life and
those are masculine and feminine. Although you may identify yourself as being a
man or a woman, every man contains the feminine aspect and every woman contains
the male aspect of life. This is sometimes referred to as 'the human shadow".
This is true not only of all species, but even of the stars and planets. Within
our own solar system the earth is recognised as being feminine because it
produces life and the masculine is referred to as the sun because it provides
the energy to nourish life. One could go into a very long metaphysical debate
here, but this is not my purpose.
The purpose here is to remind you that when you look inside there is both a
feminine and masculine aspect to what we call as 'myself'.
Now let's return to the nature of our societies. Our societies and even our
civilisation, the way it is at present is outward looking and we can see around
us that it is highly destructive. We live in a world that is continually at war,
but even if you live outside of a war zone then you have to deal with petty
crime and the risk of someone whacking you on the head to take your money or
even your mobile phone. So under all the political regimes that have occurred
over the world in the past few thousand years, populations have lived in a state
of fear and today the leaderships of all Western countries use fear as a tool to
motivate their populations to acquiesce to their demands.
Now let's reconsider something of what I said. We live under capitalism and that
is governed by fear that is also supported by patriarchal religions and
patriarchal thinking. So where is the female element in all of this?
From a Western standpoint, we know very little of our history and yet we know
that within early Judaism from which Christianity evolved, the name of God was
El and his wife was named Asherah. Do you get that? God had a wife which in
spiritual terms recognises the concept of the divine masculine and feminine as
being an aspect of our ultimate nature.
Where did this idea come from? Lets first look back at the Christian view that
there was only the one God without a wife all without a female companion and he
alone created heaven and earth. But, if we look back at ancient India and the
spirituality that Judaism emerged from, we see that Indian spirituality has
always included the Divine Masculine and Divine feminine aspects inherent within
If we look at Indian civilisation before it was 'discovered' by Europeans, it
was a flourishing and peaceful society with a good education system and good
health care. They had a deep spiritual understanding and a relationship with the
masculine and feminine aspects of their nature which meant that they did not
have too look outside of themselves for their peace and happiness.
The ancient Indians recognised that suffering was something self-created from
ignorance and over thousands of years almost the entire population of the
entirety of Asia knew a period of peace and prosperity that has never been seen
since then. I am not claiming that there was absolutely no suffering because
there were segments of the population who preferred to look outwards, so there
were some cut-throats and thieves as well as the occasional tyrant deluded by
glamour and his own ignorance.
"Once one realizes that all beings are "cut from the same cloth," involved in
the same predicament-opportunity, experiencing suffering, one gains a deep
empathy for the condition of all sentient life. One does not wish to inflict
harm upon any living being." ~
Shiva, Parvatti and the sacredness of life by
Yogendra Rastogi, you can
purchase his art here.
The balanced appreciation of the divine masculine and feminine with an
appreciation of the two fundamental directions in life sounds like a
science-fiction fantasy to today's so-called civilised people who are entirely
dependent on external circumstances for their well-being.
Yet the modern system of medicine that has swept over the world claiming to be
the most effective and the only valid form of medicine fails to take into
account the value of introspection and the basic nature of what it is to be a
In our haste to seek happiness beyond ourselves we fail to realise that this
human body that we possess is made of about 70% water and the remainder is soil
that has been converted through several creative processes into the substance of
the remaining 30% of our body.
Modern medicine and the purely physical understanding of life tells us that our
health is all about external factors and yet of all the actual diseases that we
suffer, 70% of those begin within our own mind and the other 30% are about
getting in the way of someone else's accident or being affected with an
unfriendly virus or bacteria.
By not looking inwards and understanding our own internal nature we are also
failing to take care of our health and well-being. Because of this we are bound
to our delusions about life and unfortunately none of this is going to change
until those stronger public influences such as church and state take note.
If you read thus far, you'll know that probably won't happen before hell freezes
over and all life on this planet will be extinguished. Therefore, you really
have to save yourself and to do that you will find that by moving towards a
natural, organic, vegetarian and chemical free diet without alcohol and strong
stimulants that you will be able to relax.
Relaxation is key and that is all that is required to get to know yourself more
intimately. You can also practice various forms of yoga and meditation to help
this process and you can expect to pass through some healing crises to help
release the pain that you have endured over your lifetime.
Recapping; it is our wrong thinking and wrong actions that produce suffering for
ourselves and for others. Wrong thinking and wrong action arise from our
ignorance and occasionally plain stupidity.
Our wrong thinking produces delusions and hallucinations because in effect our
mind is in charge of our life instead of being a tool for life as it is designed
Wrong thinking is from ignorance because we have no idea what life is, at
present all we do is manipulate life and pretend that everything is okay when
really everything hurts like hell.
We are surprisingly adaptable to pain and able to endure great misery, yet life
was never designed to be like that. Have you seen or heard of any other species
that deliberately makes itself as miserable as what human beings do to
themselves? Have you ever seen or heard of any other species that is working so
hard to destroy its environment just to find temporary happiness?
Like me, you may be concerned and want to save the planet, but first you have to
save yourself. Like on an aircraft in distress, you put on your own gas mask and
then tend to those around you. The denial of the feminine under patriarchy
blocks perception of life and reduces intuition, it is time to open to and
reinstate the Mothers of Gods.