Six drawbacks of saṃsāra from Nāgārjuna’s Letter to a Friend
Nāgārjuna’s Letter to a Friend (Suhṛi-lekha) outlines six drawbacks of saṃsāra, emphasizing its unsatisfactory nature and lack of benefits.
No matter how hard we strive for something, there is no guarantee that we will succeed. Our lives can be turned upside down in an instant, with no warning. The people around us may come and go, and the world we inhabit can be unpredictable and ever-changing. Nothing in saṃsāra is certain or secure.
No matter how successful we are or how much we have achieved, we always strive for more and better. We never seem to be content with what we have and are constantly striving to improve ourselves.
Death is an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, we must leave behind all that we have accomplished in this lifetime. We take with us only our karmic seeds and mental habits to the next life, while everything else remains behind.
We experience a never-ending cycle of rebirths, each one filled with its own unique set of struggles and hardships. Unless we make a concerted effort to break free from this cycle of suffering, our saṃsāra will remain without end.
Throughout our lives, we experience fluctuations in our social standing, health, financial situation, and relationships. We may go from being in a position of power to one of weakness, and vice versa. We may even be reborn in different realms, such as the deva realm, hell realm, or even as a human or animal.
No matter how close we are to someone, no one can feel our pain for us. We come into this world alone and leave it the same way; all of our emotions are our own to experience. Even if we have strong relationships with others, death will eventually separate us from them.
The Buddha did not intend to make us feel discouraged by pointing out the difficulties of cyclic existence.
Rather, with kindness, he encouraged us to observe our experiences in life and recognize them for what they are.
He showed us that we can break free from these difficulties by understanding their causes, following the path to liberation, and ultimately achieving freedom.