The Buddha taught that all suffering is ultimately caused by craving, tanha. He organised suffering into three types:

1. Suffering of suffering: birth, old age, sickness, death, coming across what is not desirable.

2. Suffering of change: not being able to hold on to what is desirable; not getting what we want.

3. All-pervasive suffering: general misery.

The general misery, or unsatisfactoriness, of the third type is related to our human-all-too-human failings and shortcomings. The Platonist in me recognises three types of “general misery”:

  1. The inability to be good.

2. The inability to appreciate beauty.

3. The inability to apprehend truth.

Thus, when societies lose sight of the Good, the True and the Beautiful, the people suffer.