Buddhism is most commonly recognized as a peaceful and happy religion, so it might come as a surprise to you what the first recognized Noble Truth is.
To live, is to suffer.
Meaning that simply by being here and experiencing the things that we experience as humans – we will experience suffering. It may seem pessimistic and negative in nature but really all that it means is that there cannot be light without darkness.
No good without the bad.
Therefore, the good of life and all that we enjoy must bring with it suffering and the darker times.
The second noble truth is what I want to focus on right now, and it will explain where the suffering you experience will come from.
The second noble truth acknowledges attachment as the main factor for suffering. To avoid suffering in our lives we must first understand where it comes from and why we experience it.
According to Buddha, the basic cause of suffering is “the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)” – zenlightenment.net
All of us hold desire for something at any given time, and by this point in your life you may have already learned that not all of our desires can be fulfilled. Each time your stomach growls with hunger you might not be able to satisfy it, which will bring you discomfort and minor suffering.
The same is true for people who are incredibly ambitious and set out to achieve large goals. They may become so attached to the desire of achieving the goal, that any moment spent with that goal unachieved will leave them suffering at almost all times.
It can be confusing to hear these words from a source that talks about hard work and achieving goals so much, but don’t think of this as me telling you to stop desiring anything and everything – I won’t do that myself and I would never suggest you do that.
The purpose of me putting this together is simply to relay the message to you that 1; to live is to suffer, and 2; desire is the root of suffering.
The other problem pointed out by Buddha is that denying desire is like denying life itself. A person has to rise above attachments and for that, he need not deprive himself. The problem arises when he does not know where to put an end to his desires. And when he yields into his desires, he becomes a slave to them.