Once you learn these 5 brutal truths about life, you’ll be a much better person (according to Buddhism)


Life is no picnic. All too often, we have to overcome obstacles in order to survive.

Sometimes we try to deny these obstacles because they’re too difficult to bare. But as hard as they are to confront, it’s necessary if we want to live a truly fulfilling and free life.

According to Buddhist philosophy, happiness involves embracing and accepting all the different aspects of life, even if they’re negative. Otherwise we’re turning a blind eye to reality and resisting the natural forces of the universe.

So below, we’re going to go over 5 truths about life Buddhism says we’d all benefit from accepting.

1) Worrying is useless.

Worrying is created in the mind and really doesn’t offer any value to our lives. Will worrying change what’s going to happen? If not, then it’s a waste of time. As Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh says below, try to remain in the present moment without putting labels on your “future conditions of happiness.”

“Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation of the world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don’t know how to breathe, smile,and live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone. I am happy in the present moment. I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness or conditions that will bring about more happiness. The most important practice is aimlessness, not running after things, not grasping.”  – Thich Nhat Hanh

2) If we want to be happy, we must see reality for what it is

Buddhism teaches us that we must see reality for what it is if you want to be truly free. Instead of being fixed on our ideas and opinions, we need to stay open and curious to whatever truth arises.

So many of us try to remain perpetually positive by avoiding negative emotions or situations. But we need to confront them and accept them if we are to be truly free. Buddhist master Pema Chödrön says it best:

“We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs – or we don’t. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality- or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha’s opinion, to train in staying open and curious – to train in dissolving our assumptions and beliefs – is the best use of our human lives.”

3) We need to accept change actively

Everything in life is change. You’re born and you eventually die. The weather changes every day. No matter how you look at life, everything is change. However, many of us attempt to keep things “fixed” and “constant”. But this only goes against the true forces of the universe.

By accepting and embracing change, it gives us enormous liberation and energy to create the lives we want. Buddhist Daisaku Ikeda says that accepting change allows us to take initiative and create positive changes in our lives.

“Buddhism holds that everything is in constant flux. Thus the question is whether we are to accept change passively and be swept away by it or whether we are to take the lead and create positive changes on our own initiative. While conservatism and self-protection might be likened to winter, night, and death, the spirit of pioneering and attempting to realize ideals evokes images of spring, morning, and birth.”  – Daisaku Ikeda

4) The root of suffering is pursuing temporary feelings

So many of us crave those feelings of what we think is happiness. We think happiness includes excitement, joy, euphoria…but these are only temporary feelings. And the constant pursuit of these feelings only turns into suffering because they don’t last.

Instead true happiness comes from inner peace – being content with what you have and who you are.  Yuval Noah Harari describes it perfectly:

“According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them.” –  Yuval Noah Harari

5) Meditation is the path to reducing suffering

Meditation teaches us that everything is impermanent, especially our feelings. It teaches us that the present moment is all that exists. And when we truly realize that, we become content and happy, according to Yuval Noah Harari:

“This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices. In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realise how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasising about what might have been. The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it.” –  Yuval Noah Harari

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The 5 Causes of Suffering According to Buddhism and the Ultimate Way to Overcome Them


We all encounter mental roadblocks in life. To feelings of self-doubt to anxiety and depression, mental hindrances can be extremely tough to deal with.

However, we’re not the first human beings that suffered from such obstacles.

Buddhist monks and philosophers have studied and practiced the art of freeing the mind from these negative emotions that tie us to what they call the Wheel of Suffering.

They found 5 common hindrances to the mind.

We’ve gone through each of them below and we’ve also discussed how we can actually go about overcoming these obstacles for a peaceful and happy life.

1) The Mental Hindrance of Desire for Sensing.

What is it:

The hindrance of sensory desire is latching onto thoughts or feelings based on the pleasures of the five senses.

Buddhist master Traleg Kyabgon explains it best:

“This term alludes to the mind’s tendency to latch on to something that attracts it–a thought, a visual object, or a particular emotion. When we allow the mind to indulge in such attractions, we lose our concentration. So we need to apply mindfulness and be aware of how the mind operates; we don’t necessarily have to suppress all these things arising in the mind, but we should take notice of them and see how the mind behaves, how it automatically grabs onto this and that.”

How to overcome it:

To overcome the hindrance of sensory desire, the meditator must use mindfulness and acknowledge the hindrance. Then they must observe the hindrance and experience it fully. Once experienced fully, the meditator must contemplate the impermanence of the pleasant desire. Buddhist master Ajahn Brahmavamso emphasizes the technique for letting go of concern for the body and five senses completely:

“In meditation, one transcends sensory desire for the period by letting go of concern for this body and its five sense activity. Some imagine that the five senses are there to serve and protect the body, but the truth is that the body is there to serve the five senses as they play in the world ever seeking delight. Indeed, the Lord Buddha once said, “The five senses ARE the world” and to leave the world, to enjoy the other worldly bliss of Jhana, one must give up for a time ALL concern for the body and its five senses.”

2) The Mental Hindrance of Aversion and Ill-Will.

What is it:

This involves latching onto thoughts or feelings based on hostility, anger, resentment, bitterness etc.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Ill will refers to the desire to punish, hurt or destroy. It includes sheer hatred of a person, or even a situation, and it can generate so much energy that it is both seductive and addictive. At the time, it always appears justified for such is its power that it easily corrupts our ability to judge fairly. It also includes ill will towards oneself, otherwise known as guilt, which denies oneself any possibility of happiness. In meditation, ill will can appear as dislike towards the meditation object itself, rejecting it so that one’s attention is forced to wander elsewhere.”

How to overcome it:

According to Ajahn Brahmavamso, meditation on loving-kindness is crucial:

“Ill will is overcome by applying Metta, loving kindness. When it is ill will towards a person, Metta teaches one to see more in that person than all that which hurts you, to understand why that person hurt you (often because they were hurting intensely themselves), and encourages one to put aside one’s own pain to look with compassion on the other.”

3) The Mental Hindrance of Lethargy and Laziness.

What is it:

This is characterized as a morbid state of lacking energy and desire for wholesome activity.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Sloth and torpor refers to that heaviness of body and dullness of mind which drag one down into disabling inertia and thick depression. […] In meditation, it causes weak and intermittent mindfulness which can even lead to falling asleep in meditation without even realising it!”

How to overcome it:

To overcome laziness, we need to use our energy sources. Ajahn Brahmavamso says:

“Sloth and torpor is overcome by rousing energy. Energy is always available but few know how to turn on the switch, as it were. Setting a goal, a reasonable goal, is a wise and effective way to generate energy, as is deliberately developing interest in the task at hand. A young child has a natural interest, and consequent energy, because its world is so new. Thus, if one can learn to look at one’s life, or one’s meditation, with a ‘beginner’s mind’ one can see ever new angles and fresh possibilities which keep one distant from sloth and torpor, alive and energetic.”

4) The Mental Hindrance of Restlessness and Regret.

What is it: 

This refers to the mind being agitated and unable to settle down. Ajahn Brahmavamso explains it best:

“Restlessness [uddhacca] refers to a mind which is like a monkey, always swinging on to the next branch, never able to stay long with anything. It is caused by the fault-finding state of mind which cannot be satisfied with things as they are, and so has to move on to the promise of something better, forever just beyond. […] Remorse [kukkucca] refers to a specific type of restlessness which is the kammic effect of one’s misdeeds.”

How to overcome it:

Gil Fronsdal says it’s about understanding what makes you restless and accepting it and taking action:

“[There are] a variety of ways to engage restlessness, be present for it. […] [One is] learning, reflecting, meditating and contemplating what the nature of restlessness is. […] There might be a really good cause for you to be restless. […] Maybe you haven’t paid your taxes in ten years. […] [In this case] you don’t need meditation, you need to pay your taxes. You don’t use meditation to run away from the real issues of your life. […] Sometimes what’s needed is to really look and understand are there root causes for being restless.”


5) The Mental Hindrance of Doubt and Uncertainty.

What is it: 

This involves self-doubt and not truly understanding oneself.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Doubt refers to the disturbing inner questions at a time when one should be silently moving deeper. Doubt can question one’s own ability “Can I do This?”, or question the method “Is this the right way?”, or even question the meaning “What is this?”. It should be remembered that such questions are obstacles to meditation because they are asked at the wrong time and thus become an intrusion, obscuring one’s clarity.”

How to overcome it:

According to Ajahn Brahmavamso, this is overcome by having clear instructions and a way to move forward. He says:

“Such doubt is overcome by gathering clear instructions, having a good map, so that one can recognise the subtle landmarks in the unfamiliar territory of deep meditation and so know which way to go. Doubt in one’s ability is overcome by nurturing self-confidence with a good teacher. A meditation teacher is like a coach who convinces the sports team that they can succeed.”

How to Get out of Your Head and into the Present Moment.


The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

Your mind is probably running too much – just like mine is. Sometimes it just worries about the most random things that don’t really matter. Well, here are a few simple practices that you can do easily throughout your day in order to pause your monkey mind and feel the joy of the present moment.

How to Get out of Your Head and into the Present Moment

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” ~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

1. Walking

Get into your body and feel yourself walking. Walk with 100% attention in your leg muscles. Notice the way your feet roll across the ground. Feel your center of balance moving forward. Walking is actually a repetitive falling forward motion. Embrace your swinging arms and the air softly moving through your hands. Step with purpose. Getting this focused into the simple act of walking will definitely ground you into the present moment.

2. Look up at the stars

It’s no question that looking into a clear night sky can humble any person. You are a tiny speck on a tiny planet amidst the vast canvas of space. Embrace the night sky with your entire heart and glimpse at the infinite part of you. The universe is just like a mirror. Stare up and look at your awesomeness. You will feel yourself become very present, peaceful, and joyous.

3. Smell a flower

If you see a flower, don’t shrug it off. Appreciate it. Allow the flower to bring you right into the now, out of your head, and into it’s blessed fragrance. I always do this. There is an impulse in me to approach every flower I see. People may give me funny looks, but that’s okay, they don’t know what they’re missing.

4. Take a hot shower

Showers are incredibly refreshing. Having the sensations of flowing hot water run all over your body is a magical sensory experience. Many people take showers without thinking about it – or they are just planning their day ahead. But there is a better way. Get present. Get in your body and feel the uniqueness of the experience. Showers are a great daily meditation (and you will smell good too!).

5. Embrace your art or craft

Whether writing, drawing, painting, playing music, anything! Enjoy it completely and so utterly that your mind is emptied into the presence of your concentration – your flow, into that one creative practice. I do this when I improvise on my ukulele, just feeling the notes flow from my fingers to my ears. No planning, no thinking, no stress. Just music. This is a wonderful way to become present.

6. Exercise or run

Get your blood pumping. Many people I know just love running to clear their head. Start moving your body (notice the theme here – your body brings you into the present in so many ways). Even running for 10 minutes can do wonders for your health, energy levels, and calming the monkey mind. If running isn’t an option, then try doing yoga, lifting weights, or just jumping up and down on your bed for a few minutes. :)

7. Admire nature

Mother Nature is beautiful. Go into nature and let the scenery invade your senses. Often times I like going out into the forest, where I can be surrounded by calmness and being. The trees are not trying hard. They are not worrying. You can sense their peacefulness. Allowing the birds singing to echo in your mind, the leaves rustling in the wind, all of it, bringing you into a meditative state. Nature is divine.

8. Smile at people

You are a people! Smile at yourself. Smile at others. I can not tell you how many times a smile has completely brought me out of my head – out of my own little world – and deeply into the present moment shared with another soul. Sometimes a stranger and I lock eyes, and we smile, and everything else melts away. We don’t know each other at all, but we share something within. We share this moment. And the moment is a joyous place, where smiles are born. Smile at everyone.:)

9. Laugh

Going hand in hand with smiles, go and laugh. Laughter is a wonderful meditation! In fact, there’s lots of people who do “laugher yoga.” What a funny practice. Literally. Whether you’re with friends exchanging silly stories, inside jokes, or watching viral youtube videos (much funner when watching with others) you can laugh your ass off. Try it. I guarantee you won’t be worrying about anything while you’re rolling on the floor with sore abs.

10. Watch kids play

In a non-creepy way please lol. Kids are perfect examples of living without worry. They are so present and they don’t hold back what they say. They question, they wonder, they have a unique and fresh perspective. Look at them play, doing the most random insignificant things that amuse them. Making up games, creating invisible friends, and embracing their imaginations. In many ways, kids are wiser than we are. They haven’t forgotten to have fun. Try being around kids and watch your inner child-like wonder begin to surface.

11. Cloud gazing

If you’re not convinced how awesome clouds are, just sign up for Instagram. Clouds are an ever-shifting entertainment of nature. Sort of like stars, they remind me of my smallness, yet my significance. That I am here to admire their shifting shapes. Looking at clouds has always been an exercise in imagination too. As a kid we always tried to pick out shapes. You may have done this too. Try it out.

12. Pet your cat or dog

Get as present as your cat or dog. They don’t care about anything except dangling shoe strings, red lasers, and tennis balls (or frisbees in my dog Clipper’s case). Animals are so chilled out. They are unconditionally loving and it will rub off on you if you let it. Take a de-stress break, call your animal, and just be with it for a minute. Don’t have any pets? Pet your neighbors. Don’t have neighbors? Go to the animal shelter.

13. Look at your hands

You have fingers! WOAH. And thumbs! Look at your hands and fingers. You are an incredible human body. The mere fact that you can navigate around the world, pick up things, interact, touch and hold others, create things, and express yourself is amazing. Appreciate deeply the fact that you can see and feel yourself. You are alive. Be present with that fact for a moment.

14. Go all in

Go ALL IN to your senses. You can create a burst of clarity by entering your senses completely. It’s like emptying your mind quickly and letting only your senses flood your awareness. It’s not thinking. Stepping back from the labels we paint all over the world and instead seeing everything directly. It’s kind of hard to explain, but imagine being on a diving board, looking into the water below. You’re mind is usually up there on the diving board, looking into the murky water of experience, because everything goes through so many filters and labels. Going all in is a mental dive into the water of your senses. Submerging yourself completely in the now, instead of watching it from above with your mind.

What are your favorite ways to get out of your head and into the present moment?

Richard Feynman on Good, Evil, and the Zen of Science, Plus His Prose Poem for the Glory of Evolution.


 “I . . . a universe of atoms . . . an atom in the universe.”

“Everyone’s moral behavior is much more variable than any of us would have initially predicted,”psychology researchers David DeSteno and Piercarlo Valdesolo wrote in their fascinating exploration of the good and evil in all of us, and hardly is this variability more critical than in matters that profoundly affect not merely the fate of the individual but also the future of society at large. In The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman (public library) — the same indispensable anthology that gave us The Great Explainer’s insights on the universal responsibility of scientists and the role of scientific culture in modern society, titled after the famous film of the same name — Richard Feynman explores the capacity of science to be a catalyst for both good and evil, and the moral choices steering the direction of the dial.

feynman_atoms1

The first way in which science is of value is familiar to everyone. It is that scientific knowledge enables us to do all kinds of things and to make all kinds of things. Of course if we make good things, it is not only to the credit of science; it is also to the credit of the moral choice which led us to good work. Scientific knowledge is an enabling power to do either good or bad — but it does not carry instructions on how to use it. Such power has evident value — even though the power may be negated by what one does.

I learned a way of expressing this common human problem on a trip to Honolulu. In a Buddhist temple there, the man in charge explained a little bit about the Buddhist religion for tourists, and then ended his talk by telling them he had something to say to them that they would never forget — and I have never forgotten it. It was a proverb of the Buddhist religion:

“To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.”

What, then, is the value of the key to heaven? It is true that if we lack clear instructions that determine which is the gate to heaven and which the gate to hell, the key may be a dangerous object to use, but it obviously has value. How can we enter heaven without it?

The instructions, also, would be of no value without the key. So it is evident that, in spite of the fact that science could produce enormous horror in the world, it is of value because it can produce something.


But, for Feynman, science has another value, an entirely personal one, captured in the famous Feynmanism after which this very book is titled. This glorious intellectual enjoyment, he argues, is far too frequently dismissed by those who stress scientists’ moral obligations to society, but it is of equal importance:

Is this mere personal enjoyment of value to society as a whole? No! But it is also a responsibility to consider the value of society itself. Is it, in the last analysis, to arrange things so that people can enjoy things? If so, the enjoyment of science is as important as anything else.

feynman_imagination1

But I would like not to underestimate the value of the worldview which is the result of scientific effort. We have been led to imagine all sorts of things infinitely more marvelous than the imaginings of poets and dreamers of the past. It shows that the imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man. For instance, how much more remarkable it is for us all to be stuck-half of us upside down — by a mysterious attraction, to a spinning ball that has been swinging in space for billions of years, than to be carried on the back of an elephant supported on a tortoise swimming in a bottomless sea.

He concludes by illustrating his point with what could be best described as a prose poem about the magnificence of evolution, what Richard Dawkins termed“the magic of reality”, Einstein extolled as the ineffable spirit of the universe, and Carl Sagan celebrated as the reverence of nature. The poetic eloquence for which Feynman remains known, which hardly anyone has mastered since, except perhaps Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Cox, makes for a beautiful read on par with Diane Ackerman’s Cosmic Pastoral. Feynman writes:

I have thought about these things so many times alone that I hope you will excuse me if I remind you of some thoughts that I am sure you have all had — or this type of thought — which no one could ever have had in the past, because people then didn’t have the information we have about the world today.

For instance, I stand at the seashore, alone, and start to think. There are the rushing waves . . . mountains of molecules, each stupidly minding its own business . . . trillions apart . . . yet forming white surf in unison.

Ages on ages . . . before any eyes could see . . . year after year . . . thunderously pounding the shore as now. For whom, for what? . . . on a dead planet, with no life to entertain.

Never at rest . . . tortured by energy . . . wasted prodigiously by the sun . . . poured into space. A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea, all molecules repeat the patterns of one another till complex new ones are formed. They make others like themselves . . . and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity . . . living things, masses of atoms, DNA, protein . . . dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle onto the dry land . . . here it is standing . . . atoms with consciousness . . . matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea . . . wonders at wondering . . . I . . . a universe of atoms . . . an atom in the universe.

Source: http://www.brainpickings.org