Inconceivable is the beginning of this samsára; not to be discovered is a first beginning of beings who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this cycle of suffering.
Which do you think is more: the flood of tears which, weeping and wailing, have been shed upon this long way - hurrying and hastening through this cycle of suffering, united with the undesired, separated from the desired - this, or the waters in the four great oceans?
Long have beings suffered the death of father and mother, of sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. And while beings were thus suffering they have, indeed, shed more tears upon this long way than there is water in the four great oceans.
Which do you think is more: the streams of blood that, through beings being beheaded, have flowed upon this long way - this, or the waters in the four great oceans?
Long have beings been caught as robbers, or highwaymen, or adulterers; and through beings being beheaded, truly more blood has flowed upon this long way than there is water in the four great oceans.
And thus, have beings long undergone suffering, undergone torment, undergone misfortune, and filled the graveyards full; truly, long enough to be dissatisfied with all forms of existence, long enough to turn away and free yourselves from them all.
If one were to heap up all the bones of those who have suffered, hurrying and hastening for one single world-period through this cycle of suffering, and the bones were not to decay, there would arise a mountain of bones as big as this Vepulla mountain.
And how is this possible? Inconceivable is the beginning of this samsára; not to be discovered is a first beginning of beings who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this cycle of suffering.
SN 15:3, 13, 10
So much suffering, for so long and it continues and will continue - that's just the way it is. I know that these are nice analogies, but there's certainly some truth here. There's 7.4 billion people on the planet today, but there's been more than a hundred billion people that have come and gone up to now. I know that many died peacefully, but many more died in ways that are pretty brutal. Take all the bones of all of them and pile them up and I have to think there would certainly be a mountain. And what about all the other beings, the animals and other non-human beings - that would make a pretty massive mountain, I would think.
Reflecting on this discourse and contemplating Samsára helps to put things into perspective. My problems, my suffering really is pretty insignificant when looked at from the larger view of things. I know that in the middle of some great problem, my suffering seems paramount, but it's nothing in the big picture. My ego wants to think that my suffering is huge, but it isn't. It's really nothing compared to all the suffering that has been experienced by all beings. I need to do a little reality check when my ego makes my personal problems and suffering seem so important.
One other thought that arises from this discourse is the realization of the real cause of all suffering - as long as I am 'obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving', I'm going to suffer. To overcome ignorance, I need to develop wisdom - wisdom is the key, it allows me to overcome craving and ultimately to overcome suffering. I'm not going to be able to stop 7.4 billion people from suffering, but with wisdom I can overcome my share of it. That's a pretty good place to start.