How Suffering is Created
Suffering is created through action. Every form of suffering in existence has its root in an action performed by the one who is suffering.
The Four Ways to Create Suffering:
1. Harmful actions:
- Against others (For example, gossip, killing, stealing)
- Against ourselves (For example, suicide, addiction, self-loathing)
2. Harmful words:
- Against others (Speaking badly about others)
- Against ourselves (Speaking badly about oneself)
3. Harmful thoughts:
- Against others (Wishing someone else will suffer)
- Against ourselves (Wishing we will suffer, as in an accident or with death)
4. Failing to act when we could.
We acquire karma for the good deeds in word, action, or thought that we could perform, but do not.
Because we are mere beginners in this type of training, our insight into how these actions create results will be limited. To really understand the whole scene of life takes many years of effort and conscious development.
For the moment, because our situation—worldwide and as individuals—is so complicated, we can rely on the insight of those who have much deeper understanding than we do. Thus, here are some general indications of the results of mistaken actions. These lines are quoted from the Buddhist scriptures Lam rim chenmo, Satyaka-parivatara, and Dasabhumika-sutra.
“For the past act of killing, [you will have] a short lifetime, many illnesses.
“For the act of stealing, [you will have] a lack of resources, poverty, or to have to share everything with others.
“For sexual misconduct, [you will have] an untrustworthy spouse [adultery].
“For lying, your life will be filled with slander towards you, gossip about you and you will be deceived by others.
“For the past action of divisive speech, you will suffer loss of friendships and people you depend on will always be splitting and divisive with each other, so you cannot depend on them.
“For the past action of offensive speech, you will always hear unpleasant words and be surrounded by quarrels and arguments.
“For the past act of senseless speech, others will not listen to you, will not respect your words, will not understand your words, or you will have poor confidence in your words.
“For the past act of covetousness, you will suffer from attachment and have no contentment.
“For the past act of malice, others will be hostile towards you, and you will always be seeking things that are unbeneficial for yourself, always inadvertently harming others or being harmed by others.
“For the past action of wrong views, you will suffer from confusion and deceit. Environmental effects are more widespread and in your environment.
“For the act of killing, you will have poor or little food, poor or ineffective medicine and the harvests and other resources that you bring will have little strength or will even produce illness.
“For the past act of stealing, you will also have poor crops, poor food, droughts, floods, spoiled foods, poisoned foods.
“For the past crime of sexual misconduct, you will live in filthy places, there will be excrement, urine, mud, vomit everywhere on the streets. You will have unclean things, bad smells, misery and discomfort everywhere.
“For the past crime of lying, your work does not flourish, there is no harmony in workers, everyone is deceitful, you will be fearful and have many causes to be afraid.
“For the past act of divisive speech, you will live in a place that is difficult to get around, and have many causes to fear.
“For offensive speech, you will live in a dangerous environment and no comforts such as parks or pools or safe places.
“For the past act of covetousness, all good things diminish every year and do not increase.
“For malice, you will be surrounded by epidemics, injury, infectious diseases, quarrels, disputes, harmful animals, thieves.
“For wrong views, the most important resources will be unavailable or too expensive, unclean things are plentiful, misery appears to be bliss, you will have no home, no protector and no refuge.”