Why Do I Suffer?

Daniel Troyak

Daniel Troyak

Australia’s first full-time Buddhist prison chaplain. Daniel also offers Mindfulness-based Therapy sessions from his private counselling practice. For more information, please visit www.BuddhistCounselling.net

If you know Buddhist psychology, you know the correct statement is ‘we all suffer’.


Suffering isn’t something we want to know, which is why we spend every waking moment avoiding it.


Instinctively we look out and believe my problem is ‘out there’. My partner, my job, the weather. Those are the obstacles to my happiness. That’s what we think.


There is no denying the outer world can be a sensitive and painful experience, but what we believe is our problem is merely the trigger. Triggers for emotions we’d rather not feel.


Triggers get the most attention because the felt sense experience is uncomfortable. We want to get rid of anything that doesn’t sound, smell, taste, look or feel nice. Therefore, when my partner doesn’t give me what i want, I get angry and hold that anger for a day or two.


How we think is paramount to creating happiness and alleviating suffering from our lives.


I recall a story of a Buddhist monk who was held hostage and was physically harmed for long periods of time. When he escaped he was asked what he feared the most during that time. He said he feared that he would hate his captors for what they did to him.

He understood that suffering comes from the mind. It’s how we think about the world around us. ‘I hate you’, ‘I will never forgive you’, is suffering. Even when the event is over and the physical suffering has passed, what is left is our mind. Wherever we go our thoughts go with us.


We need to know why we think the way we do and change the thoughts that cause us to suffer. We have the power to change and improve our wellbeing and happiness from the inside out.


The Buddha presented a detailed explanation of suffering. His teaching was called the ‘Four Nobel Truths’.

1.       Suffering (ill-being) exists and you can see it everywhere. It’s in our friends, family, society and even animals.

2.       Suffering (the making of ill-being) comes from the mind and it’s rooted in having the wrong view of how things exist. This affects how we relate to the world around us.

3.       Suffering can cease (ill-being can end) and the Buddha was the example of this.

4.       The path to end suffering (the path of well-being). This is holding the right view and the Buddha then presented the Eight-Fold Path to practice for permanent well-being.


The only way to find liberation is to understand that I control my body, speech and mind. This includes my emotional wellbeing.

Applying the right tools is essential to gaining control of your mind, to overcome negative emotions.


The only way to get out of suffering is to know it and to know it well. The place to begin is the mind.

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