The Human Predicament

It’s hard to be a person. We seem to have been made to want what we cannot have. That’s a predicament. Not just an occasional-hiccup kind of a predicament either. We want what is pleasing to our bodies and to our minds – all of the time. And, on top of that, we want this for others as well. At a minimum, we want those who we love to be happy enough most of the time. Yet, since the experiences that please us cannot endure, we will never find lasting happiness in trying to hold to them.

When he was around the age of 29, Siddhattha Gotama, who was to become the Buddha, went looking for a way out of the human predicament. After 6 years of hard searching, he found it. And he uncovered a way of living which leads to the end of the suffering that comes when we look for happiness where it cannot be found. He called this way of living ‘the Noble Eightfold Path.’

“The beginning point of the teaching is the ordinary mind, in bondage and subject to suffering; the end point is the enlightened mind, completely purified and liberated from suffering. The whole teaching unfolds between these two points, taking the most direct route.

"The Buddha and His Dhamma", by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, .

We begin to develop the Buddha’s path when we get interested in looking for the sources of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction not in the failures of the world to meet our wishes and wants, but in how our minds relate to the moments of existence.