What causes us to suffer? What is it that makes us dissatisfied with ourselves, our lives, and the world around us? What is the origin of our suffering? It is the clinging to those mindsets, beliefs, and desires of the ego that cloud our vision and mask our understanding of realty, of Truth, behind the veil of illusion. This veil of illusion, Maya, is created by the ego’s desires and cravings. The selfishness of the ego mind makes us ignorant…it gives us the illusion that we are separate from God, from the Universe, from Truth. This feeling of detachment from the true nature of reality causes us to suffer, and yet the fear of letting go of our attachment to our egos drives us to cling even more and escape behind Maya.
Ignorance, Desire, and Fear/Anger are, in Tibetan Buddhist Medicine, the three fundamental roots of disease and of cyclic existence, the cycle of rebirth into this realm of suffering. It is perpetuated by the illusory cycle of ignorance > desire > fear > ignorance, and so forth. The second Noble Truth is our so-called “wake-up call”. To free ourselves from our suffering, our selfishness, we must not only acknowledge that we are suffering, but we must also become aware from within that we, our egos, are the roots to our suffering.
As explained in the Bhagavad Gita 3:36-41:
Arjuna: What is the force that binds us to selfish deeds, O Krishna? What power moves us, even against our will, as if forcing us?
Krishna: It is selfish desire and anger, arising from the guna of rajas; these are the appetites and evils which threaten a person in this life. Just as a fire is covered by smoke and a mirror is obscured by dust, just as the embryo rests deep within the womb, knowledge is hidden by selfish desire – hidden, Arjuna, by this unquenchable fire for self-satisfaction, the inveterable enemy of the wise. Selfish desire is found in the senses, mind, and intellect, misleading them and burying the understanding in delusion. Fight with all your strength, Arjuna! Controlling your senses, conquer your enemy, the destroyer of knowledge and realization.
It sounds simple at first, but for most of us it may take many years, or many lifetimes, to achieve this full self-awareness. It takes practice! Like the warrior Arjuna, we must strive to become spiritual warriors for Truth in order to face the origin of our suffering.