The purpose of this meditation is to contemplate the shortcomings of samsara in terms of how our lives can never give us complete and continuous satisfaction.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then thought about the three ways in which samsara frustrates our wishes.

We can never be separated from the things we find unpleasant. Even with the best conditions in samsara, we would still find things that cause us to be unhappy – it would be too hot, too sunny, too humid, too dark, too soft etc. Samsara can never give complete happiness.

We can never be with what we desire all the time.  We may always want to be in the company of our dearest family, but samsara cannot allow for this. We may always wish to be in a particular location, but even if we remain there, it changes around us and soon we feel out of place and long for the location of our past.

Finally we can never fulfil our samsaric wishes. When we are young we have dreams we never fulfil, and if we do, we naturally develop more dreams to fulfil. If we spend our lives fulfilling our dreams, we will still die feeling that there was ‘just one more’ that needed to be done in order for us to be satisfied.

Ranulf FiennesI thought of Sir Ranulph Fiennes who is famous for undertaking punishing adventures across arctic wastes. His career has involved ever more extreme expeditions. If we look with wisdom, we can see that although his exploits are staggering in terms of the effort they require, I feel that he will never be able to fulfil all his wishes.

Given how samsara cannot fulfil our wishes, I concluded that rather than be cross or disappointed, I should simply stop asking samsara for happiness. I focused on this simple thought, and kept it as my object of meditation for the rest of the session. I felt free, knowing that from its own side, samsara is powerless – it is only my constant grasping for the happiness it cannot give that makes it unsatisfactory.


May all living beings realise that samsara cannot give them what they are looking for, and instead turn to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for permanent inner peace.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to stop grasping at happiness from samsara, because no matter how hard it tries, it cannot give me what I ask.