Patterns of suffering noticed by Osho, Buddhist priest with over 330,000 YouTube subscribers
Translated by Ryota Takahashi, proofread by Chase (English), Yoko (Chinese)
Six years ago, I started a show called “1 Question & 1 Answer” on Youtube. The show’s basic format is me (a Buddhist monk) answering letters from everyday people who are suffering in some way. The channel, without any media coverage or advertisements, has now grown to over 330,000 subscribers.
Since hosting “1 Question & 1 Answer,” I have noticed several things. The first thing I’ve noticed is that “many people want to present their most honest self without any lies.” The show has always accepted letters that were sent in anonymously, but many people reveal their names and social positions. Turns out, some of those who write in are company presidents, politicians, teachers, doctors, and celebrities. Rather, it seems there is a stronger tendency for people of higher social and economical standing to reveal their identity.
The second point I’ve noticed is that “people can ease their suffering by visualizing their pain.” I ask each one of the requesters to write down their troubles in great detail. Ironically, shortly after a letter arrives, we often receive a follow-up that usually says, “After writing everything down yesterday, I feel so much better. I’m fine now so please help others who are in more need.”
It seems that suffering stems from “unresolved issues that are being suppressed.” After organizing your thoughts and feelings through writing and then looking at yourself from an objective point of view, you may realize the true cause of suffering on your own.
The third point I’ve noticed is that “suffering knows no boundaries.” Viewers of “1 Question & 1 Answer” consist of men and women, the young and old, and people from around the world. Currently, more than 100 volunteers have joined in translating “1 Question & 1 Answer” into English, Chinese, Korean, German, French, and other languages.
The fourth point is that “suffering has a common pattern.” The number of letters to “1 Question & 1 Answer” continue to rise and now more than 1,500 people are on the waiting list. Both my viewers and staff have let me know that they want me to record and release new episodes more frequently.
However, I’ve realized that the waiting time can sometimes help viewers understand the root of their pain. While waiting for their episode to air, some viewers search for other episodes that discuss similar situations to theirs and then try to apply that lesson to their own problem. While watching those episodes, they realize that they’re not the only one who is suffering.
Then they start to realize that my answers directed at other viewers can be applied to their own lives. It seems that suffering is not unique, but rather a part of a common pattern amongst many people.
Whether it’s related to health, money, or relationships, we all carry some sort of suffering that’s either big or small. Many believe that suffering is from an outside source. However, in reality, suffering is not the product of external forces, but is created deep in our hearts. The mechanism in our hearts that creates our own suffering is explained in Buddhism as follows:
Whenever we are in touch with our surroundings through our eyes, ears, noses, mouths, skin we process and recognize this information through our senses as visual, audio, taste, touch.
Our eyes do not work like a camera lens, the mere reflection of lights does not fully explain how we see. Our ears, nose, mouth, and skin are the same. The information that is brought in through our five senses that we like or dislike, think is interesting or uninteresting is interpreted and given meaning by our “heart.”
When you are thirsty and see a glass half full with orange juice, do you see the glass as half full or half empty? It all depends on your view and your “heart.” Finding someone attractive or not also depends on the person as well. Our “heart” tends to gravitate towards objects that bring pleasure and wishes that pleasure would never end. On the other hand, our “heart” wishes to distance itself from objects that cause pain and is unable to endure continual suffering.
Buddha dedicatedly observed the process of our “heart” creating our joy and suffering through strict meditation. Through it, Buddha realized that the suffering created by the “heart,” the “heart” inflicted by the suffering, and the “self” the owner of the “heart” do not exist forever. Everything is constantly changing. All things are impermanent. (諸行無常)
As science has advanced up until now, we know that our body repeats the process of metabolism every day. Metabolism is where our old cells die and new cells are regenerated by eating. Cells in our body parts are constantly reproduced: small intestine cells take 2 days, stomach takes 5 days, skin and hair take 1 month, muscles take 2 months, bones take 7 years. We are in this constant metabolism cycle until the day we die.
Our “hearts” are the same. Our “thoughts” are produced through the external information obtained through our senses. “Thoughts” are instantaneously born, then dissolved, born and dissolved again. However we sometimes attach ourselves too much to everything going on in the external world, fixate on our preferences, lament the past, and worry about the future.
Buddha teaches us to “observe oneself closely with a calm mind. And that all things are impermanent: suffering, heart, oneself. When one has a clear understanding of this, one is free from all sufferings.”