The explanation of the impure vision is given first in order to encourage renunciation. This relates to the first of the four noble truths: the truth of suffering. As described in an earlier chapter, there are three types of sufferings:
the suffering of suffering,
the suffering of change, and
the suffering of the conditional nature of all things.
The suffering of suffering is the obvious suffering we all have, such as physical pain and mental anxiety. The animal realm, the hungry ghost realm, and the hell realm have a lot of this type of suffering. The suffering of suffering also exists in the higher realms, although we normally think that the higher realms are a mixture of suffering and happiness. But in reality, the experience of suffering in the higher realms is merely different in degree than it is in the lower realms. We all experience the suffering of physical pain and mental anxiety.
Second is the suffering of change. Anything that is created by causes and conditions is impermanent. Anything that is impermanent is in a process of change; it is suffering if it is always changing. The entire world is changing. Outside, every year we have different seasons; inside, the young grow old, large families become small and small families become large, and so on. Phenomena are always changing.
The third kind of suffering is the conditional nature of all things. Feelings that we normally categorize as “happy” or “indifferent” exist only in relation to other feelings. But in reality there is no real happiness. Throughout saṃsāra as a whole, from top to bottom, there is no real happiness, although there are certain places with lesser rather than greater suffering. If poison is mixed with food, whether it is good food or bad food, it is harmful. Similarly, in saṃsāra as a whole, there is not a single place that is worthy of attachment.
In order to arouse renunciation thought, we need to think about the sufferings of the six realms in great detail. As mentioned in a previous chapter, according to the teachings the whole universe is divided into six realms.
There are three lower realms (hell realm, hungry ghost realm, and animal realm) and
three higher realms (human realm, demigod realm, and god realm).
But in reality, none of these is a completely happy place worthy of attachment. In order to arouse a genuine inner urge to be free from suffering, the first preliminary practice is to concentrate on the different conditions and different levels of suffering.