To begin with, Buddha said there “is” suffering. Which does not mean that it is “all” suffering. Yet most of us have certainly faced times in our lives that felt as though it is all suffering and there is no way out. And escaping this can also seem like trying to pull yourself out of quicksand. This is actually a very accurate analogy, because the more any of us try to fight the difficulties that are facing us, the more we tend to go deeper into sadness, anger, frustration or depression.
A much better approach to these circumstances is one that the Buddha did in fact teach, and that is one of acceptance.
Acceptance is possibly one of the most highly misunderstood practices in Buddhism. And I think that for many people, they believe that this means to accept that life sucks. This of course does not make anyone feel good or hopeful at all. But the teachings of acceptance are far deeper and liberating if we gain a clearer understanding. A powerful example of this is to understand the encouraging benefits of impermanence (anicca). Yes, impermanence is a good thing, despite what many of you may think. Because while it may me the end of good things that we wish to hold onto, it also means that cessation of those things that we wish to be free of. With this awareness, one can begin to see that clinging is useless and even harmful to our peace. And this thinking can also bring about more understanding about the Pali word “dana“. While usually translated as giving or liberality, the deeper meaning is in letting go of attachments and in a way that others may benefit. And doing this freely and without ANY expectations is really the key.
Perhaps you can begin to see that all of these teachings connect to one another. There is suffering, but there is also great joy and happiness. Letting go of both allows each of us to be like the branches of a tree that simply sway when the wind blows, and remain still in the calm. Remembering all the while that the tree too is impermanent. And that’s OK.