Commentary by Gendo
Suffering is the forgotten one, the minority position. It is not the popular one. It’s the kid who cries in the corner. Suffering is something we get very good at pushing aside, until, suddenly, it is “in your face.” Even then, desperately sick and in the hospital, people find ways to look the other way. Everyone prefers the things they like, whatever makes you feel good about yourself.
But, it turns out, there are always two sides to the situation. Sooner or later, in spite of best intentions, it seems something bad happens. We call it bad luck. Buddhism calls it impermanence.
We identify objects with certainty – this is a cup, there is a pillow, there is a tree. But day becomes night, beautiful becomes ugly, thoughts come and go. All objects of consciousness are impermanent, and what is impermanent I experience as beyond my control, not mine, a source of disappointment and suffering.
Implicit in every object of awareness is a “duality,” something held in contrast: a white thing against a dark background, a sweet thing against a bitter background, a happy thing against a sad background. The same is true of ourselves. A “self” is also an object of consciousness. We understand self, who “I am,” in relation to people different from me. I know myself in relation to what I like and what I dislike. It is how consciousness works. It divides the world, discriminating one thing from another.
In this way, consciousness is imperfect. What we fixate (cling to) as an object of mind is incomplete. It is not the whole truth. What is true is not an independent, existing object, but a dynamic relationship. What appears to be separate, is happening together; positive and negative, night and day, life and death, self and other. What is “true” is fullness of mind, both the happy kid and the one who cries in the corner.