“Life is suffering” is a favourite phrase of mine and has become so since really having an experiential understanding of what the phrase means.
It was Gautama Buddha that came up with “Life is suffering” or something very much like it in the language of Pali. Though he probably did not say in simple terms that phrase, this translation is pretty close to what was said as one of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism:-
jātipi dukkhā = Birth is dukkha
jarāpi dukkhā = Old age is dukkha
byādhipi dukkho = Sickness is dukkha
maraṇampi dukkhaṃ = Death is dukkha
appiyehi sampayogo dukkho = Association with the disliked is dukkha
piyehi vippayogo dukkho = Separation from the beloved is dukkha
yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ = Not obtaining one’s wishes is dukkha
saṃkhittena pañcu¬pādā¬nak¬khan¬dhā dukkhā = In brief, the five clinging aggregates are dukkha
dukkha here means suffering.
To me this suffering is seen in many ways as resistance to what is happening. I may dislike what is happening and sometimes I have what appears to be no choice in reacting.
Here is a recent example:
The other day I was feeling energetically low. I did not want to do much, yet had things that needed to be done. I came home to a complete mess in the lounge, where I wanted to relax. There were empty boxes, dirty plates, sweet wrappers, clothes and other stuff in the lounge. This seems a de-facto situation living with three teenagers and a 21 year old.
That particular day I was not in a state of being to allow the mess to simply be in existence and instead labelled it as a mess and got upset, thereby suffering.
This is what I feel is meant by life is suffering and when we are able to realise this is how it is then the suffering experienced by us decreases