1. Life Means Sufferring
Human nature, and the world we live in, is imperfect. This means that to live, we must suffer. Both physical pain (illness, injury, old age and death) and psychological pain (disappointment, fear, frustration and depression) are inevitabe, because our existence is imperfect.
Yes, there are different levels of sufferring as well as positive experiences (comfort and happiness), but life on the whole is imperfect. Life is imperfect because it is impermanent. Although we may encounter happy moments, all of these moments must pass, and ultimately we will all die, and these moments wil be lost. This leads to sufferring.
Life means sufferring.
The Origin of Sufferring is Attachment
An attachment to transient things, and an ignornace of their transcience, is the origin of sufferring. Transient things include ideas as well as physicl objects. There exists in humanity an ignorance, a lack of understanding of our mind's attachment to impermament things. The causes of sufferring are the human habits of craving and clinging - desire for fame, wealth, and passion. These objects of our attachment are transient, meaning they will be lost to us which will ultimately lead to sufferring.
Objects of attatchment also include the concept of the 'self' which is an illusion - there is no self. What we call 'self' is an imagined entity because we are simply part of the growth and development of the universe. Getting attached to our 'self' will also cause sufferring, because we will die. With anticipated loss comes sufferring.
The Cessation of Sufferring is Attainable
Sufferring can be brought to an end in an individual's life, through nirodha. Nirodha can be explained as the unmaking of sensual craving and the attachment to concepts. Sufferring can be ended by achieving dispassion - nirodha ensure the removal of all attachments.
This means that sufferring CAN be overcome, and this is through human actions. These human actions simply have to remove the cause of the sufferring. Perfecting the art of dispassion is a process of many levels which means that it spans over several rebirths, however, once perfected, it results in the state of Nirvana.
Nirvana is a state in which one experiences freedom from all worries or anxieties. However, nirvana cannot be truly understood by anyone who has not achieved it.
The Path to the Cessation of Sufferring
There is a gradual path of self-improvement which will lead an individual to the end of sufferring (described in more detail in the Eight-Fold Path). This path is the middle way between excessive self-indulgence, or hedonism, and excessive self-mortification, os ascetiscism.
This path also ends with the ending of the rebirth cycle. This separates it from other paths which are simply used as self-development, as they do not have a final goal or result. The path to the ending of sufferring extends over several lifetimes, as with each rebirth comes karmic conditioning which means that craving and delusions slowly lessen with each rebirth because progress is being made on the path in each life.