What should we ponder as a first step in learning the Dharma?

“We need to understand that the purpose of studying Buddhism is the eradication of suffering and the attainment of happiness. The concept is clear; to reflect upon them mindfully is what we should be seriously doing as first step.” – Master Jih-Chang

“What is the first step? Is it the first step of sitting in the classroom or the first step of discussion? What to ponder on? That is to ponder what is the root cause of suffering? Why couldn’t we remove suffering and attain happiness no matter how hard we have tried - such bitterness. What went wrong? We are fully occupied everyday for the sake of pursuing happiness, yet why is there so much suffering? Is there something wrong?” - Global Lamrim 2, Lecture 0015
https://bwmonastery.org.sg/global-lamrim-ii/2018/12/26/lecture-no-0015

What should we ponder as a first step in learning the Dharma?
Why is this necessary?

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The first thing we have to do is to know the root cause of suffering, if we know the root cause of suffering, then we will know what we can do next. If we set off on the wrong foot from the very beginning, the expected end result will definitely not take place, this is why it is necessary for us to think in this direction.

Teacher tells us that we really need to think about why we are still suffering and why we are not able to find happiness even though we are actually trying to do that everyday. We are so busy everyday trying to find happiness and to remove suffering, yet we didn’t get it. What’s wrong? Is it because the cause is wrong? If it is, even as the first step, the place that we are looking for the cause of suffering and happiness is wrong, if we keep on working in that direction, then of course we will never solve the problem.

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