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Dukkha

Posted by Shivaboddha on April 16, 2011

Dukkha can refer to various unpleasant experiences in varying degrees. It can range anywhere from discomfort to suffering.
Although dukkha sounds simple enough, it is not easy for many people to realize. The Anapanasati Sutta and Maha-satipatthana Sutta indicate that a person first need to practice meditation to purify the mind of the five hindrances to wisdom and the ability to “see things as they truly are” before contemplating “dukkha”. For someone who has not seen what it’s like to be without dukkha, it is difficult to realize that life is “dukkha”.
“What ordinary folk call happiness, the enlightened ones call dukkha” – Samyutta Nikaya 35.

The Buddha discussed three kinds of dukkha or suffering:
1. Dukkha-dukkha (pain of pain) is the obvious sufferings of: pain, illness, old age, death, bereavement.
2. Viparinama-dukkha (pain of alteration) is suffering caused by change: violated expectations, the failure of happy moments to last
3. Sankhara dukkha (pain of formation) is a subtle form of suffering arising as a reaction to qualities of conditioned things, including the skandhas, the factors constituting the human mind

Dukkha is also listed among the three marks of existence: impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and not-self (anatta). Dukkha denotes the experience that all formations (sankhara) are impermanent (anicca) – thus it explains the qualities which make the mind as fluctuating and impermanent entities. It is therefore also a gateway to anatta, not-self.
Insofar as it is dynamic, ever-changing, uncontrollable and not finally satisfactory, unexamined life is itself precisely dukkha.

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