What is Dukkha? by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Meditation Buddha China. Photo: David BlancoWhat are the characteristics of dukkha? What are the symptoms? One is the lack of relaxation for the spirit — the suffering soul has no place to rest its weary bones. This is an aspect of dukkha. Conditions spin round and round compounding each other. And this is constant. This constant process of conditioning doesn’t give the spirit, or soul, or whatever, any chance to relax.

Things don’t happen according to our wishes and desires. Nothing in this world goes the way we want it to. every now and then something accidentally pleases us, but all of us are aware of countless things that don’t fit in with our wishes. Wars, starvation, the political messes, economic exploitation — none of these things are according to our wishes. This is dukkha. And, coming closer to home, we can see that our bodies get old, get sick, fall apart. Our bodies don’t go the way we want them to, either; they aren’t the way we want them to be. This is dukkha.

Dukkha is the ‘wanting’ in our lives. There is always something stirring up wishes and desires, craving and wanting. And this thing that stirs up all these desires is avijja, ‘not knowing, ‘ignorance. This lack of correct understanding, this lack of correct knowledge, gives rise to craving. Ignorance produces these states of mind which come up and interfere with the natural peace and brightness of the mind.

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.

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Categories: Beginners, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Buddhist meditation, Encyclopedia

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1 reply

  1. This is dukkha: this morning … my bridge fell out and i have a big gap where three front teeth should be … i feel awful, decrepit. I wish it weren’t so.
    I know i am old and this is part of old age.

    “And, coming closer to home, we can see that our bodies get old, get sick, fall apart. Our bodies don’t go the way we want them to, either; they aren’t the way we want them to be. This is dukkha.”

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