How to overcome the four sufferings


(Lotus flowers in Kew Gardens.  Photo credit: Author)

Earlier I wrote about the four universal sufferings that human beings experience, no matter what their status, wealth or fame.  Buddhism says that these are the sufferings of life, illness, ageing and finally death.  The lotus flower is especially significant in Buddhism.  Mired in the muddy pond, beautiful blossoms bloom, undeterred.  Life is like that- we live in world with evil, suffering, corruption and injustice but we can still blossom despite it. In fact, the ‘muddy’ world allows us to show our brilliance and creativity just like the relationship between the lotus and it pond; and the ‘muddy pond’ of our world supplies us with the right materials to manifest our highest potential.

Lotus is the only flower that carries the mature seeds inside it, signifying the simultaneity of ’cause and effect’ i.e. whatever you ‘sow’ you reap instantly in that it ingrains a particular effect on you.  Thus, whatever you think or do, creates the instant effect of changing something inside you whether it is immediately visible or not.  We can learn from the lotus flower that by having positive and creative vision and taking action, we are instantly changing ourselves and our world.

Daisaku Ikeda, the Buddhist philosopher, says-“…we can transform the sufferings of being born into this world into the joy of living life to the fullest; the sadness and loneliness of ageing into the pleasures of fostering the younger generation; the challenges of illness into an opportunity for elevating our state of life; and even the sorrow of death into a song of eternal triumph”.


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