The First Noble Truth – DUKKHA

Suffering

Reference: Chapter 2, The First Noble Truth: Dukkha

The first Noble Truth of Buddha points to dukkha as something that needs to be understood. The term dukkha contains the ordinary meaning of ‘suffering’, but in addition it also includes deeper ideas, such as, ‘imperfection’, ‘impermanence’, ‘emptiness’, and ‘insubstantiality’. The way to happiness starts with a complete understanding of this term dukkha.

One needs to clearly understand that any object of enjoyment ultimately becomes a source of unsatisfactoriness because of its impermanent nature. For example, one enjoys being with a pleasant, charming and beautiful person. One likes to be with him (or her) again and again. One derives pleasure and satisfaction from that person. But this enjoyment is not permanent, just as that person and all his (or her) attractions are not permanent.

As the situation changes and as one no longer is able to derive that pleasure and satisfaction, one becomes sad. One may become unreasonable and unbalanced. One may even behave foolishly. This is the evil, unsatisfactory and dangerous side of the picture. Now this won’t be the case if one is completely detached. Then there is freedom, liberation. This is true with regard to all enjoyment in life.

Impermanence

From this it is evident that we must take into account not only the ordinary suffering, such as, sickness, old age, distress, etc., but also the impermanence of the pleasures of life. This is dukkha. But the philosophic aspect of dukkha as impermanence goes much deeper.

What we call a ‘being’ or an ‘individual’, or ‘I’, according to Buddhist philosophy, is the perceived center of physical and mental forces. These forces or energies are forever changing. They are expressed as the five aggregates of attachment. They are not the same for two consecutive moments. Here A is not equal to A. They are in a flux of momentary arising and disappearing.

So, there is no permanent, unchanging spirit which can be considered ‘Self’, or ‘Soul’, or ‘Ego’, as opposed to matter. Consciousness is not perceived as Self or Soul that continues as a permanent substance through life. Conciousness changes continually. There is nothing in life that is permanent. All the aggregates are impermanent, all constantly changing.

‘Whatever is impermanent is dukkha’

Buddhism advises us to take a realistic view of life and of the world. We must look at things objectively. We should not be falsely lulled into living in a fool’s paradise, nor should we be frightened and agonized with all kinds of imaginary fears and sins. We should look exactly and objectively what we are and what the world around us is. And that would guide us to perfect freedom, peace, tranquility and happiness.

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Comments

  • vinaire  On May 13, 2012 at 6:42 AM

    The Western religion of Scientology calls itself an extension of Buddhism. It claims to improve upon Buddhism.

    As far as dukkha goes, Scientology replaces it with the concept of Reactive Mind.

    To me, Scientology is not an extension of Buddhism. It alters the very basis of Buddhism.

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On May 14, 2012 at 11:49 AM

      Religions are taped paths extending off into a direction. The power of my religion depends upon my faith in my religion. The strength and value of my path depends upon my faith and preconception of the final destination of my path.

      • vinaire  On May 14, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        Good for you. 🙂

        But Scientology is no Buddhism.

        .

        • Chris Thompson  On May 14, 2012 at 12:57 PM

          What is your fixation on Scientology?

        • vinaire  On May 14, 2012 at 1:09 PM

          I am looking at Scientology to understand what in that subject helped me the most, and what didn’t.

          .

    • Elizabeth Hamre  On December 3, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Consciousness is not perceived as Self or Soul that continues as a permanent substance through life.
      “”””Conciousness changes continually.””””” Consciousness NEVER EVER CHANGES one can not be aware less or more than one would be doing something but how it is explained “”consciousness changes continually” is one experiences and the experiences that fraction of moment has different energy: more or less.
      Example: one is in a beautiful quiet meadow in a hot summer day one experiences that quietness but it is in fact existence of millions of creations in harmony.
      One is on the see, in a small boat on the windless day and the fog has taken over the surface of the sea and the waves smoothed out.. nothing can be heard or seen… Nothing yet what is there is a total harmony of many creations.
      One is in the middle of a huge city, standing in the middle of Time square : honking, creaming, shouting, singing off tune, thousands foot steps melting into the thundering noise… gun went off, there is creaming, sirens going, One is aware of millions of clashing colliding sounds -energy of total disharmony.
      It is a experience what is different and not the consciousness.
      When one is locked into a dark room where sound can not enter… consciousness is still the same.. but the momentary experience is very different.
      Consciousness is a addition because if we say I am conscious hearing-feeling this or that than judgement has entered and singularity is there also, so is the SELF..

      • vinaire  On December 3, 2013 at 5:47 PM

        In my opinion, consciousness depends on what one is being conscious of. Since things being conscious of are changing continually, the consciousness is changing continually too.

        What is the difference between consciousness and the experience of now? In my view they are the same.

        There is no separate “point of consciousness” looking at things. We are part of what we are aware of. That is how I see it.

        .

  • vinaire  On May 14, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    When one looks at things as they are, it becomes impossible to harbor any ill-will.

    From “What Buddha Taught”:

    “Although there is suffering in life, a Buddhist should not be gloomy over it, should not be angry or impatient at it. One of the principal evils in life, according to Buddhism, is ‘repugnance’ or hatred. Repugnance (pratigha) is explained as ‘ill-will with regard to living beings, with regard to suffering and with regard to things pertaining to suffering. Its function is to produce a basis for unhappy states and bad conduct.’ Thus it is wrong to be impatient at suffering. Being impatient or angry at suffering does not remove it. On the contrary, it adds a little more to one’s trouble, and aggravates and exacerbates a situation already disagreeable. What is necessary is not anger or impatience, but the understanding of the question of suffering, how it comes about, and how to get rid of it, and then to work accordingly with patience, intelligence, determination and energy.”

    .

    • Elizabeth Hamre  On December 3, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      ”When one looks at things as they are, it becomes impossible to harbor any ill-will”
      When one observes things as they really are than there is no ill- will since ill-will what is ill-will already comes from judgement. and there is demonstrating ”self and separations”

      • vinaire  On December 3, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        Yes, you are right. Ill-will is generated when one is being judgmental.

        .

  • Chris Thompson  On May 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Ill will and good will are attachments.

  • vinaire  On May 14, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    That’s correct.

    All attachments fall away as one practices Looking.

    .

    • Elizabeth Hamre  On December 3, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Looking is attachment.. that is doing something– being aware of doing =looking=observing.

      • vinaire  On December 3, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        Looking would be a doingness if one is exerting to look, as in searching, or digging into the mind, but not otherwise.

  • vinaire  On May 14, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    In the book, “What Buddha Taught,” the chapter on The First Noble Truth: Dukkha ends as follows:

    “Buddhism is quite opposed to be melancholic, sorrowful, penitent and gloomy attitude of mind which is considered a hindrance to the realization of Truth. On the other hand, it is interesting to remember here that joy (piti) is one of the seven be cultivated for the realization of Nirvānā.”

    .

    • Chris Thompson  On May 14, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Being quite opposed to melancholic, et al, is inconsistent with releasing attachments. Maybe this is badly translated?

      Possibly “joy” is badly translated as well?

      • vinaire  On May 14, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        Possibly. With the practice of Looking one sheds of attachments. It is from attachments that unwanted feelings of melancholy, sorrow, gloom, etc., arise.

        The natural state seems to be one of calmness and serenity.

        .

        • Chris Thompson  On May 14, 2012 at 7:58 PM

          What about the life around us would identify calmness and serenity with “natural?”

          What about calm and serene are unattached?

        • vinaire  On May 14, 2012 at 8:36 PM

          I don’t know.

    • Elizabeth Hamre  On December 3, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      ”Buddhism is quite opposed to be melancholic, sorrowful, penitent and gloomy attitude of mind which is considered a hindrance to the realization of Truth. On the other hand,——–“” it is interesting to remember here that joy (piti) is one of the seven be cultivated for the realization of Nirvānā.””
      I can see lots of judgement entered here,: what is bad and what is good really comes from personal judgement.

      • vinaire  On December 3, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        I would expect melancholy, sorrow, etc. not to be there when one is being mindful.

        .

        • Elizabeth Hamre  On December 3, 2013 at 6:09 PM

          If one is really mindful being in the NOW in that fraction of creation than pleasure moments are not the part of Now because any pleasure moment simply exist because judgement of doing something so is sorrow etc.. etc.. It can not be both ways that one say ”bad experiences should be eliminated and just keep the pleasure moments because they are good and lets create more of it because..

        • vinaire  On December 3, 2013 at 6:17 PM

          Yes. When one is being mindful, the judgment in terms of good or bad is not there.

          .

  • Brian  On May 18, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    One can look at the illusion forever.

    Who is looking?

    Can the observer be seen?

    This looking will bring one to enlightenment.

    • vinaire  On May 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

      What illusion are you talking about?

      There is only the inconsistency of considering things to be permanent when they are not.

      .

      • Brian  On May 18, 2012 at 7:43 PM

        That which plays on the holographic ‘screen’ of consciousness.

        • vinaire  On May 18, 2012 at 8:57 PM

          These seem to be various theories. Buddhism seems to consider that the observer and the observed are part of the same system, and thus dependent on each other.

          I don’t like using the word illusion because it does not communicate too well.

          .

        • Brian  On May 19, 2012 at 3:36 AM

          It can seem to consider whatever it wants to consider. 🙂

          What’s the point (purpose/goal) to all this looking?

          What use is looking at the mind or manifestations of mind?

          From where/what does this mind arise? That seems (to me) to be a better place to do one’s looking.

        • vinaire  On May 19, 2012 at 4:13 AM

          That, which seem to consider is the ‘being’ defined by the five aggregates. See KHTK 11A. What underlies the ability to consider is ‘mental volition’, which is a mental formation. See KHTK 13A.

          Considerations at any moment are limited by what has been considered earlier and held on to. Anything disagreeing with what has been considered earlier, and held on to, appears as an inconsistency. In my opinion, such inconsistency would precipitate dukkha.

          The point of looking is to resolve inconsistencies and minimize dukkha, whether it is looking at the physical object, or looking at the mental objects.

          According to Buddhism, one thing arises from another in a circle of Conditioned Genesis. Thus, the mind arises from those things that, in their turm, arise from the mind. This Conditioned Genesis is mentioned in the Second Noble Truth (KHTK 13A), but it is explained more fully later in the Third Noble Truth, which I have yet to study.

          I find Buddhism to be more and more interesting as I dive into it.

          .

  • Brian  On May 19, 2012 at 3:55 AM

    Paths…. How far must one travel to find oneself?

    “We should look exactly and objectively what we are and what the world around us is. And that would guide us to perfect freedom, peace, tranquility and happiness”

    When the dreamer dreams, the dream seems to be quite real. The sun shines, illuminating the scene in the dream. But, if you stand next to a person having a dream, can you see the dreamer’s shining sun? No, there is no light shining for you. Is the sun objectively real to the person in the dream?

    You have never been other than what you are – ‘native state’ is here, now. Can this be experienced?

    • vinaire  On May 19, 2012 at 4:41 AM

      In my opinion, the ‘native state’ is beyond the consideration of ‘I’.

      .

  • Brian  On May 19, 2012 at 4:10 AM

    What we call a ‘being’ or an ‘individual’, or ‘I’, according to Buddhist philosophy, is only a combination of ever-changing physical and mental forces or energies…

    ‘Whatever is impermanent is dukkha’.

    Yes, I, is a bundle of thoughts – mental. It is impermanent, ever changing. It is dukkha.

    What is not dukkha? Look at that. That is freedom.

    • vinaire  On May 19, 2012 at 4:43 AM

      To go beyond dukkha, I believe that it is necessary that none of the inconsistencies are ignored, but are fully resolved.

      .

      • Brian  On May 24, 2012 at 7:17 PM

        You can believe it if you like. But there is no need to erase the mind to achieve enlightenment. You just need to find out who you really are – with total certainty.

        • vinaire  On May 24, 2012 at 9:08 PM

          Really!

          What if you find that you are not something, but nothing? Hmmm…

          Will that be valid?

          .

        • Brian  On May 24, 2012 at 10:31 PM

          “What if you find that you are not something, but nothing? Hmmm…
          Will that be valid?”

          Well, you’ll have to define ‘thing’ in this context.

          If a thing means something that one can perceive with the senses, then I think it is fine that you find out that you are not a thing – a no thing.

        • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 5:21 AM

          By “thing” I mean anything that one can be aware of!

          .

  • vinaire  On May 19, 2012 at 4:57 AM

    I believe that dukkha is a much deeper concept than the concept of Reactive Mind in Scientology.

    After the Reactive Mind is gone, plenty of dukkha may still be there. Maybe the OT levels are addressing that!

    .

  • Brian  On May 24, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    What OT levels? None of the ones that have been released so far.

    OT VIII’s EP – I know who I am not.

    That is ridiculously funny and sad.

  • Brian  On May 25, 2012 at 5:27 AM

    “By “thing” I mean anything that one can be aware of!”

    Then is nothing something that one cannot be aware of?

    If so, then it does not follow that one could come validly come to such a conclusion.

    What is your answer to your question: “What if you find that you are not something, but nothing?”

    • Chris Thompson  On May 25, 2012 at 7:38 AM

      hehe you can’t really find this out, now can you?

      • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        Well, if you can’t locate something that you better accept that you can’t locate something.

        .

    • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Nothing is not something. Nothing is ‘absence of something’.

      It is not a matter of conclusion (thinking). It is a matter of looking and discovering.

      What I am saying is the possibility that one is not something should not be ignored.

      That “one is something” seems to be a popular belief. I question that belief.

      .

  • Brian  On May 25, 2012 at 5:41 AM

    I’ve just read Essay #2: SOMETHING AND NOTHING. Perhaps I should comment on it there, but, I’ll do so here as this is where we’ve been conversing.

    KHTK #2: NOTHING is “absence of manifestation.”

    If this is the definition of nothing, then to conclude that one IS nothing is an error.

    KHTK #2: “Science cannot go into the beginning of universe as long as it presupposes SOMETHING to exist before the beginning.”

    Time is an illusion – there is only and has only ever been NOW.

    This would really be better discussed in a forum – perhaps we could move to The Scn Forum? 🙂

    • Chris Thompson  On May 25, 2012 at 7:52 AM

      Brian, These are like little pieces of a demonstration kit that you have before you on the table. You move them around however you like to demonstrate your significances to you. Something and Nothing — fun to work with, but Truth? Ooof!

      Maybe all of life is like that.

      Lyrics to “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies
      Oh – stop
      With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
      Try this trick and spin it, yeah
      Your head will collapse
      But there’s nothing in it
      And you’ll ask yourself
      Where is my mind [3x]
      Way out in the water
      See it swimmin’
      I was swimmin’ in the Caribbean
      Animals were hiding behind the rocks
      Except the little fish
      But they told me, he swears
      Tryin’ to talk to me, coy koi.
      Where is my mind [3x]
      Way out in the water
      See it swimmin’ ?
      With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
      Try this trick and spin it, yeah
      Your head will collapse
      If there’s nothing in it
      And you’ll ask yourself
      Where is my mind [3x]
      Oh
      With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
      Oh, Try this trick and spin it, yeah, Oh, Oh

    • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 1:26 PM

      You may certainly comment under Essay #2: SOMETHING AND NOTHING and I shall add it to the CURRENT DISCUSSIONS page, so others may access it easily.

      You talk about ‘concluding’, but I don’t think it is a matter of concluding. Logic has its limitations. I would rather say that it is a matter of being aware of one’s assumptions and keep looking.

      By the way, I have referred to the link to Scn Forum elesewhere. Here it is again:

      KNOWABLE AND UNKNOWABLE

      .

  • Chris Thompson  On May 25, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    The “. . . only thing that’s real?”

    • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      Yes, it looks like dukkha is real, doesn’t it?

      But, wait till you find the unknowable (nirvana). Ha, ha.

      .

  • Chris Thompson  On May 25, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    “Hurt” lyrics

    I hurt myself today
    To see if I still feel
    I focus on the pain
    The only thing that’s real
    The needle tears a hole
    The old familiar sting
    Try to kill it all away
    But I remember everything

    What have I become
    My sweetest friend
    Everyone I know
    goes away
    In the end
    And you could have it all
    My empire of dirt
    I will let you down
    I will make you hurt

    I wear this crown of thorns
    Upon my liar’s chair
    [| From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/j/johnny-cash-lyrics/hurt-lyrics.html |]

    Full of broken thoughts
    I cannot repair
    Beneath the stains of time
    The feelings disappear
    You are someone else
    I am still right here

    What have I become
    My sweetest friend
    Everyone I know
    goes away
    In the end
    And you could have it all
    My empire of dirt
    I will let you down
    I will make you hurt

    If I could start again
    A million miles away
    I would keep myself
    I would find a way

  • Chris Thompson  On May 25, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    Fractal is not the circle but the branching.

    The circle is not precisely Natural that I can see. It represents something irrational and we strive to understand that irrationality. I believe the Truth is that the Circle of Life is a mockery. It is self-similar, but it is not circular. There is something to know here.

    • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      In a fractal the same algorithm is repeated again and again.

      Call it whatever you may.

      .

  • Chris Thompson  On May 25, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    Or written another way:
    Fractal is never circular. Life is never the circular, it is fractal. It is not the returning but it is the branching.

    The Circle is not precisely Natural that I can see. It represents something irrational, and we strive to understand that irrationality.

    I believe the Truth is near to this: The Circle of Life is a mockery of itself. Life-forms are self-similar, but they are not circular. Only Consciousness is truly circular as it pinches off to “Become” only to dissolve that becomingness and return to itself. There is something to know here.

    Maybe the fractal contains the seed of lying, with its little alteration of each iteration?

  • Chris Thompson  On May 25, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Because of the constant alteration per each iteration; the fractal construct can be viewed as the source of persistence.

    • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      Yes. It gives the appearance of persistence.

      .

      • Chris Thompson  On May 25, 2012 at 3:23 PM

        And regardless of agreement, I would like to ask you to see how this model of physicality can show how discreteness fits. Within these few words contain the possibility of motion, change, relative mass, the tendency for organized systems to disorganize and the constant speed of light to name a few attributes off the top of my mind.

        What would cause a collection of coordinates to organize? Is this the same reason whether at the macro or micro levels?

        • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 3:37 PM

          Sorry, it is too cryptic for me. People have written many books on such topics.

          .

  • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Please see more of the discussion here:

    KNOWABLE AND UNKNOWABLE

    .

  • vinaire  On May 25, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    The following is excerpted from WHAT THE BUDDHA TAUGHT. Here UNKNOWABLE may be substituted for Nirvana:

    “It is incorrect to think that Nirvāna is the natural result of the extinction of craving. Nirvāna is not the result of anything. If it would be a result, then it would be an effect produced by a cause. It would be samkhata ‘produced’ and ‘conditioned’. Nirvāna is neither cause nor effect. It is beyond cause and effect. Truth is not a result nor an effect. It is not produced like a mystic, spiritual, mental state, such as dhyāna or samādhi. TRUTH IS. NIRVĀNA IS. The only thing you can do is to see it, to realize it. There is a path leading to the realization of Nirvāna. But Nirvāna is not the result of this path.[20] You may get to the mountain along a path, but the mountain is not the result, not an effect of the path. You may see a light, but the light is not the result of your eyesight.”

    One cannot reach the understanding of unknowable through logic, or through thinking, or by concluding. One has to look at it for what it is, or it is not., or neither.

    .

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