The Buddha taught that suffering is caused by desire and aversion. Now you can analyse the heck out of this, and many people have done so. Or you can simply look to see if it is true in your own experience, and discover whether seeing this for yourself helps to free you.
For example, yesterday I had some rather painful tension in my neck and it was really getting me down, yet the pain, in the relative scheme of things was hardly disabling. Taking some time towards the end of the day to sit quietly I first tuned in to my overall sense of things, of myself, my whole body and experience of the moment. Thoughts popped up one by one, all of aversion to the pain or desire for the state of no pain, and I tried to put each one to the side, as it were. I didn’t stop to classify them, and it is only now, on reflection, that I am making that categorization. Many of the thoughts were about why I didn’t like the pain. I just tried to notice each one and put it aside, they were all good reasons for the aversion to the pain, but going round on them in my head wasn’t going to make any difference. I also noticed the emotions that arose with the thoughts: frustration, shades of despair, helplessness etc and did my best to let them flow through.
Eventually the thought, or rather just a word came to mind – scrambled. That’s it, that’s what I really don’t like about this pain – it scrambles my brain, and I am quite attached to being able to think clearly. I really hate it when I can’t think straight. Seeing what was really disturbing me finally brought me some peace, and today I have been able to reflect on it.
But the point I want to make is that we really don’t need much study in order to benefit enormously from Buddhist practice. Instruction in meditation and a knowledge of basic Buddhist concepts gives us the means to a very fruitful practice.
That said, I encourage you to join us for the first at home meditation day tomorrow. We’ll be meditating for 20 minutes on each hour and half hour from 8am (UK time), so maybe at least one of those sessions would work for you? I do hope so!