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The essential problem

No human being lives without problems. Everyone has one problem or the other. If we ponder deeply on why problems persist and why people keep on running to solve them, one thing will be understood, that is, impermanence of experience.

No experience is permanent, all experiences are momentary. From the basic need like hunger to the sensitive experiences that touch the heart, all are momentary, everything disappears in time. Such is the nature of life that if any experience remains constant for a longer time, humans would not be capable of bearing it. Man is part of Nature which is changing all the time, but he is not willing to accept this basic truth of life and craves for the same experience repeatedly.

There is no permanence in Nature except, everything changes continuously. Our five senses that are parts of Nature inherit the same element of impermanence. However, man desires permanent happiness and eternal experience. That is the curse of man. Searching for permanent happiness in an impermanent Nature is the essential problem of man.

However, permanence and stability are available only at the Soul level. Permanent experience is only a soul related experience. But man is searching for that in the transient or short-lived sensual experiences. In this search, man wastes a lot of time and energy and reaches nowhere even after many many births. Fundamentally his search is not wrong, but the venue and process of search are.

Buddha took one step forward and declared that desire is the fundamental problem. This he called trishna which can be understood as thirst for pleasure and material goods, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied permanently. Putting an end to this meaningless search is called Nirvana.

When one has achieved Nirvana, which is a transcendent state free from suffering and the cycle of birth and rebirth, one would find the solution for the essential problem, his search and journey would be finished. Angulimala wanted to kill Buddha and runs after him holding a knife in his hand. But he couldn’t reach Buddha even though Buddha was walking slowly, he shouted at Buddha to stop. Buddha replied, ‘I stopped my running long ago, it is you who needs to stop.’ Angulimala asked him to stop, keeping in mind his physical act of running, but Buddha replied about the run of the human soul from many births.

So, if one can put a stop to trishna or craving, one can find a solution for his problems. His birth will become meaningful.

All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Prashanthi K, which was originally posted in on January 8, 2010. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.


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