In his very first teaching, Buddha explained that the root cause of suffering is ignorance. But where exactly is this ignorance? And how does it display itself? Let’s take an everyday example. Think about those people—we all know some—who are gifted with a remarkably powerful and sophisticated intelligence. Isn’t it puzzling how, instead of helping them, as you might expect, it seems only to make them suffer more? It is almost as if their brilliance is directly responsible for their pain.
What is happening is quite clear: This intelligence of ours is captured and held hostage by ignorance, which then makes use of it freely for its own ends. This is how we can be extraordinarily intelligent and yet absolutely wrong, at one and the same time.