31.4 Shugen 2 of 3 Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

As we continue to look more deeply, we also begin to see how engaged we are in giving rise to all of this—how actively involved we are in perpetuating our own delusion, our own suffering. In the Vimalakirti Sutra, the great lay disciple of the Buddha, Vimalakirti, says, “Sickness”—and by this he means suffering, delusion—“arises from total involvement in the process of misunderstanding that has been here from beginningless time. It arises from the passions”—our attachments, excitedness, restlessness—“that result from unreal mental constructions, and hence ultimately nothing is perceived which can be said to be sick.” So, because the source of our suffering is illusory, so too is the suffering and delusion itself. And just as my sickness is unreal and nonexistent, so the sickness of all living beings is unreal and nonexistent.

It’s vitally important that we correctly understand the unreality and non-existence of sickness. For the person who is suffering, they are experiencing pain. Something is happening, and the pain, confusion, sadness, anxiety, or grief is very real to that person. To study the dharma is to be curious about this, to not just get hung up on the pain, but to investigate the nature of what exactly is going on, to look more deeply.