Many people think Buddhism is all about suffering, making it seem a real downer. While it’s true that the Buddha acknowledged that life is characterized by suffering, he meant more than just physical pain. He taught us that our mental suffering comes from being attached to our desires and expectations. Ignorance, or a lack of understanding of reality, also plays a part.
The Buddha also warned us that our pleasure-seeking tendencies can lead to disappointment when we realize life’s fleeting nature: “Knowing this truth gives our lives wholeness and peace, as it frees us from the exhausting postures of pretense and denial.” The ultimate aim of following the Buddhist path is not to evade life’s challenges but to confront them with serenity and enhance our inner capabilities. This teaching isn’t a pessimistic approach but a hopeful one, which teaches that we can take control of our lives and find wisdom, compassion, and happiness even in tough times.