Thich Nhat Hanh-The Holy Truth of Suffering

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear friends, the Buddhadharma is described as something that you can come and see by yourself. You don’t have to believe something through another person, even the clergy, the priest, the mediator.

The ultimate dimension of reality is something you can touch, you can see by yourself. And you can do it now, and here; it’s not a problem of time. It’s not a promise. In the method of Buddhism as I see it, it’s very concrete; there’s no place to speculate, to suppose, to create an hypothesis.

When the Buddha set out to teach and to help people, the first thing he asked people is to look directly into their suffering. Suffering is not an abstract thing; suffering is there, very real. Suffering is one of the basic truths called holy truths, the Noble Truths. Suffering is a holy truth. Why?

In Vietnamese we call it thanh de, the holy truth. The word that the Buddha used is dukkha; dukkha means ill-being, pain, suffering, translated by Chinese kou. This word, kou, originally in Chinese means bitter, the opposite of sweet. It makes you suffer. And you have to look at it. Why is suffering a holy truth? Because, without suffering, you have no way out.

The first thing you have to do is to look, and look deeply, into the nature of your suffering. If you cannot do that, if you try to run away from it, there’s no way that you can transform your suffering. That is why suffering is the basic truth and a holy truth. It means we have to learn from our suffering. We have to understand our suffering. If we don’t know anything about our suffering, if we cannot learn anything about our suffering, suffering is no longer a holy truth. Holy or not holy: it depends on our way of handling suffering. And the Buddha said suffering is absolutely necessary for you to find a way out.

A Zen teacher in Vietnam during the 13th century urged his students to practice diligently in order to get out of the world of birth and death. And a student asked him, “Teacher, please show us how to get out of the world of birth and death.” And he said, “You have to look for the world of no birth and no death.” Then the student asked, “But where can we find the world of no birth and no death?” And the teacher said, “You look for it right in the world of birth and death.”

It means, out of suffering you will find the way of transcending the suffering. It sounds like something contradictory, but it is the basic Buddhist teaching. So looking into the nature of suffering, you can see many, many things that you need to know.

Click to Hear—Thich Nhat Hanh-The End of Suffering


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

One Response to “Thich Nhat Hanh-The Holy Truth of Suffering”

  1. I sip my glass of red wine to the end of suffering.

    Your messages are always on target.

    michael j

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