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Buddhism is a belief with several core principles. One of which is the concept of ‘suffering’, which is central to how Buddhists view life. At its essence, the first noble truth of Buddhism teaches that ‘Life is suffering’.

What does this mean for Buddhist believers? Does it mean that we can never be happy in this lifetime? Is death then the only way to escape suffering? To answer these questions and more, it is important to look into what the first noble truth actually meant.

The Buddhist concept of suffering

More accurately, the first noble truth in its original language said that ‘Life is dukkha’. What we know in English as ‘suffering’ sounds extremely negative, undesirable, and painful. However, dukkha in its original sense had a broader sense of meanings.

Dukkha can be segmented into three types. The first type encompasses physical and mental suffering stemming from unavoidable circumstances in life like sickness and death. The second refers to unease and stress from constant change, moments of loss, and failure. The third kind of dukkha is an overarching existential suffering, a sense of dissatisfaction with life.

The common denominator across the three types of dukkha is a sense of longing, and an endless pursuit for things to satisfy us.

The solution to end suffering

And that is why Buddhists have the 3rd and 4th noble truths – to offer a solution to this fact of life. The 4th noble truth presents the solution as the Eightfold Path that leads disciples to Nirvana – a state of enlightenment. It isn’t an easy solution, and one that for most people will take the rest of their lives to put into practice.

Understanding death in the light of suffering

For Buddhists who truly understand the crux of dukkha, they will understand that death is also part of life’s ‘suffering’ and impermanence. It is inescapable. So, the only way to get closer to Nirvana is to accept death as just another change and transition in life. There is no use pining endlessly or grieving excessively upon the death of a loved one, but rather, the only way to move on is to accept the fact of life – that it ends.

Some people may also see death as a ray of hope, as it means the person’s spirit may be able to reincarnate into a better life, or attain a state of Nirvana. That’s why many also put emphasis on accumulating good karma during their lifetime, as it is considered one way to get closer to Nirvana, or at least to be reincarnated into one of the better realms.


There are a lot of lessons that can be drawn from the Buddhist’s concept of suffering. And these lessons are crucial because they help us deal with certain aspects of our nature. Buddhist funerals are typically arranged with these beliefs in mind, and where Buddhist believers pray for a smooth transition for the deceased to their next life.

Get in touch with 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Services for all your Buddhist funeral needs. We are committed to providing the best funeral service arrangements for grieving families looking for a worry-free solution.