Understanding the human predicament.
Fully understand dukkha.
The human condition is inherently complex. The very nature of our life is one of constant change and dissatisfaction. We are all subject to aging, sickness and death, to loss of loved ones and to parting with what we desire. Stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, among others, all ornament this life in various ways and at various times.
Understanding the human predicament is the first step on the path. The Buddha encourages us to look at the truth of dukkha, the pain and dissatisfaction of the human condition. It is a truth, not a deception or a false proclamation. Look at the truth of your own human predicament.
The original aim of the Buddha was to deeply explore this human predicament, and then to move towards an alteration of our very being. We cannot escape the human condition, but we can dramatically alter the way in which we live in the world.
The Buddha taught that by letting go of the arising of attachment, aversion and ignorance, we could actualize the state of cessation. Actualizing that state cultivates qualities like selflessness, equanimity, loving presence, and impartial compassion. Living with these traits is fundamentally different than our everyday experience of worrying, self-focus and impulsiveness. Who we are and our posture in the world shapes all of our interactions and relationships. Our actions are quite different when they are informed by compassion and equanimity, than when we are being ruled by selfish intentions and impulsiveness.
This is the challenge. We cannot escape the human condition, but by looking closely at the human predicament we can change ourselves and the world around us. We can choose to let go of reactivity, and become more familiar with our genuine nature of being.