Meditation Categories 4. Sufferings of Samsara

30. The Three Fundamental Types of Suffering

Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 30

The Beginning

Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.

The Main Part

Meditate on the three fundamental types of suffering of humans:


Suffering upon suffering: This is the agony when, before one suffering is over, another blow strikes. For instance, a person has barely recovered from the bereavement of losing his father, soon afterward his mother dies; when one’s health fails, the mood heads south also; or, as in the case of a leper who, before finding a cure, contracts another disease.


The suffering of change: Whatever happiness enjoyed at the present is ephemeral, and may turn into misery in a blink of the eye. For example, when people are making merry at a wedding reception, a calamity suddenly strikes, instantly transforming a state of joy into weeping sorrow. Such was the case with the victims of an earthquake or tsunami.


The all-pervasive suffering: This suffering means that in appearance we may not feel any overt suffering, yet we have not freed ourselves from the causes of it. It’s like having ingested a slow-acting poisonous potion; we may be fine for the moment, but eventually we’ll come down with illness. In fact, everything we do and have now—our very food and clothing, our homes, the things we take pleasure in—are most likely non-virtuous actions in the making, and will lead us nowhere but to suffering.


With the exception of sages, no ordinary being is immune to these three kinds of sufferings. The maneuvers that rely on wealth, power and so on are powerless in getting rid of them, the only recourse is to practice the supreme Dharma.

The Ending

Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.