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The Second Noble Truth concerns the causes of suffering. Suffering is generated by our mind; according to the Buddha, our main problems are delusional in nature – when we show anger or ignorance, we create hardships for ourselves as well as others.
Attachment | Anger | Ignorance
Attachment to desire is a huge cause of suffering. It traps us in samsara, or cyclic existence. The concept of desire is sometimes misunderstood as desires for things. Desire comes in three guises – desire for sensual pleasures, the desire to become (something that we are not) and the desire to be rid of something.
When we eat delicious food, the desire for more is “kama tanha” or wanting sensual pleasure.
“Bhava tanha” (desire to become) is wanting to transform ourselves into something that we are not – when we strive to be happy or wealthy, when we project our importance, we experience bhava tanha. When disillusionment sets in, “vibhava tanha”, the desire to do away with things arises. But wanting to get rid of anger, fear and stress is also a desire. Bhava and vibhava tanha are mirror images.
Every action has a consequence. Harming others will eventually result in our being harmed. Anger makes us harm other beings; in that sense it often becomes a cause of self-inflicted suffering.
Ignorance brings suffering because not being omniscient, we act in ways that lead to problems. We cannot foresee consequences or truly understand others. Also, we cannot see the nature of reality. The gulf between our perception of it and the Ultimate Truth is enormous. This inability to comprehend reality traps us in samsara, where we must inevitably experience suffering in some form.