As with the 1st Noble Truth, I use a quotation from the SN56.11: Dhammacakkappavattanasutta provided on this website.
The Second Noble Truth turns the idea of where suffering comes from on it’s head and implies that we, ourselves, are responsible for any suffering that we may experience.
The Second Noble Truth is stated thus:
And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.
The Second Noble Truth states that suffering, unsatisfactoriness and stress come from our own craving for experience, sense pleasure, possessions and the like. It is our own mind that creates suffering because we are so attached, so inured in this reality that we find ourselves in, that anything that threatens the stability of our existence here causes suffering or stress. In fact, with the temporary nature of this material reality, unless we do something about it, we are always going to ‘suffer’ at some point or other, whether it be today when our iPad blows up, or years down the line when a loved one passes away. Suffering is guaranteed, pretty much no matter what we do in the mean time.
Yet the Buddha has an answer in the 4th Noble Truth. We will come to that in a later article, but for the moment I would like to finish this short article with a quote from a favorite film of mine, ‘The Matrix’:
Morpheus: What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.
And suffering or stress are exactly the same sort of things. They are electrical signals interpreted by your brain in response to whatever situation the ‘brain’ or your ‘mind’ perceives to be a threat to your wellbeing. If you can learn to control your own mind, then, eventually, you will be able to control your own reactions to stressful or painful circumstances and thus suffer less stress, unsatisfactoriness and suffering.
For most people this is a big ask. It can take years, even life times from a Buddhist point of view, but the most important thing to do for your own wellbeing, and for those around you, is to take that first step. Read some Dhamma, take the first steps in Buddhist meditation, don’t worry and just go with the flow. You won’t get things right from the get-go, there will be times of ‘dryness’ when nothing seems to be happening, but gentle yet determined practice will always pay off.
Take control of yourself and the benefits are immeasurable.