Dhamma Letter No. 14 begins a series that will focus on three phenomena central to the Buddha’s teachings - dukkha, anatta, and anicca.
Today, we begin with dukkha.
What is Dukkha (Suffering)?
Our study and practice of Buddhism must be informed by the Buddha’s original question. When Gothama Buddha saw an aging, sick, or dying person, he felt in his heart a suffering inherent to life. The Pali term for this suffering is dukkha. One can translate and, in different contexts, describe dukkha as suffering, dissatisfaction, irritation, disturbance, anguish, worry, dejection, loneliness, anxiety, et cetera. The Buddha asked, ‘Why, as human beings, must we endure this suffering? How can one be only happy?’
Buddha described dukkha as eight kinds of universal suffering:
"Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of dukkha: Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha." — SN 56.11
Some say that life is a ‘blessing’. This is true. Although, while pleasant and optimistic words describing the nature of life may bring temporary bliss, it surely will not last forever.
Without facing and striving to understand the system of our consciousness, we will be unable to truly overcome our present suffering and situation. The more we avoid it, the deeper dukkha will stay in the bottom of heart (kamma). As a vipassana meditator, we have to face it and eliminate dukkha from our lives.
We will continue our discussion of dukkha next week in Dhamma Letter No. 15.
May you be free from any physical suffering !
May you be free from any mental suffering !
May you be well and happy!
Ayyā Kosallā & Mahāpajāpatī Bhikkhunī Sangha
Edited by Max Montgomery
If you have any questions related to Dhamma, please feel free to ask. You can reach Ayya Kosalla directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer your questions and include them in future Dhamma Letters.
Bhikkuni Kosalla Vipassini is the Abbess of Mahapajapati Monastery in Pioneertown, California. For monastery updates, please see Mahapajapati’s Facebook. Donations are gratefully accepted, whether you volunteer your time, offer funds, or provide needed requisites for the monastics. If you are inspired to donate, you may do here.