Friday, January 28, 2022

It’s still early in 2022, so I thought I’d post this as a quick “review” of a fundamental concept: dukkhā.

According to the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (The Discourse on Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion), the problem in the human condition is “dukkhā.”

Dukkhā is a word, and words are by nature “goopy.”  That is, they may have different meanings under different circumstances, or in different contexts, or with different people.  Words point to concepts.  Concepts are also goopy.  So, it behooves us to “define” our words and concepts when we want to communicate clearly and accurately. 

Here’s a modern understanding of the what the word/concept “dukkhā” is:  Dukkhā is that state of being we find ourselves in when confronted with a Reality that is incongruent with the Reality we expected or the Reality we desired.  So, dukkhā is.  All living, sentient beings will have moments of dukkha because that’s the way they/we are.  We’re not so smart, knowledgeable, informed, insightful, and wise that we always “see” Reality as it really is.  The Pali word for this is “avijja.” 

And we tend to be attached to our desire for self-gratification:  for getting what we want, when we want it, the way we want it.  The Pali for this is “tanha.”  

So “dukkhā” is the problem, and the two-fold cause of dukkhā (samudaya) is the combination of avijja-tanha. 


The “solution” (nirodha) to the problem comes from practicing the Noble Eightfold Path:  

Sammā-diṭṭi – Right knowledge, view, understanding, perspective.  Having knowledge that corresponds to reality as it is, and the attendant views, perspectives, understandings accompanying such knowledge. 

Sammā-saṇkappo – having the right resolution, intentions and aspirations to extinguish taṇhā, to eliminate dukkhā.

Sammā-vācā – speaking (and by extension, writing) honorably, honestly and accurately; choosing our words and expressing ourselves in such a manner that dukkhā is minimized or eliminated.

Sammā-kammanto – virtuous, moral behavior, and by extension behavior that is contextually, situationally, socially and culturally acceptable.

Sammā-ājīvo – Right livelihood, lifestyle, life.  Earning one’s livelihood through a means which minimizes dukkhā, and by extension, living one’s life by a means that is virtuous, meritorious, benevolent, compassionate, non-violent, et cetera.  A life that is, in short, in harmony with the conduct and principles of the seven other practices of the Eightfold Path.

Sammā-vayāmo – making an effort to understand and to conform to the teachings.

Sammā-sati – practicing mindfulness of oneself, one’s mental, physical emotional and social functioning, and mindfulness of one’s physical and social environment, the impact of the environment on oneself, and impact of one’s existence on the environment.

Sammā-samādhi – practicing focused, concentrative, absorptive meditation.  

Feel free to post comments.

More to come . . .


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