The truth of dukkha

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5 years 11 months ago #103576 by Benoit Santerre
Replied by Benoit Santerre on topic The truth of dukkha
Hello Kenneth,
hello everyone.
It's nice to be here. You can read my introduction in the Welcome section.
I'm new here and a late comer to this discussion which I'm aware ended a year ago! But it really caught my attention (and enjoyed reading the posts) because this is a discussion I've had quite a few times before and something I've reflected a lot on. And maybe some of you might still read here so here's my opinion on the topic. First, from my understanding of the suttas (I've read most of the Sutta-Pitakas), it really supports the view that dukkha is a universal characteristic of all formations, meaning of everything that has for nature to arise and pass away, which basically means all experiences. A frequent saying of the Buddha of the Pali canon is "whatever is impermanent is dukkha." Another is "all formations are dukkha." In the vedana-samyutta section of the Samyutta-Nikaya, the Buddha says that "whatever is felt is included in dukkha." That pretty much includes all experiences. So Kenneth, what you say here has strong canonical support.
Now, I see the question is asking of our opinion and not canonical support, but I thought it would be interesting anyway to make that observation from the Pali canon. In my opinion, it seems that in order to generate the dispassion necessary for "the mind to turn away from the formations" as the Buddha of suttas would say, and enter cessation (nirodha), one would need to consider all formations as dukkha. Though I could be wrong: I'm still pre-path. I think perhaps many resist to the idea that all experiences are dukkha because they understand dukkha as meaning pain. I understand it to mean all shades of frustrations, unsatisfactoriness, and also to the fact that all experiences can't fullfil us. No experience can be maintained satisfactory for too long. For example, a pleasant meditative state slips away and is replaced by an unpleasant one. What I imagine an Arahant to be like is that they still consider all formations as dukkha, but they don't identify with it as "I" or "mine" anymore, which would create lots of inner room for peace.
I hope I don't come off as arrogant with all my thoughts here as an unenlightened newbie. I realize many here are way ahead of me in this path. I'm still an unenlightened one working my behind off for first path!

Regards,

Benoit

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5 years 11 months ago #103578 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic The truth of dukkha
Thanks, Benoit.

Just to chime in with you: I agree. all experiences include some element of dukkha. All of them.

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5 years 11 months ago #103651 by Nikolai
Replied by Nikolai on topic The truth of dukkha
I now tend to agree with what Benoit wrote and Chris seconded.

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3 years 3 months ago #110432 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic The truth of dukkha
Another resurrected topic, this time from the KFD (Kenneth Folk Dharma) message boards.

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3 years 3 months ago - 3 years 3 months ago #110458 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic The truth of dukkha
The original topic post, by Kenneth Folk:

As long as you draw breath, there is dukkha. It's not because you are doing it wrong. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand Buddhism.
Last edit: 3 years 3 months ago by Chris Marti.

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3 years 3 months ago #110466 by Andromeda
Replied by Andromeda on topic The truth of dukkha
I think we need to carefully specify what is meant by "dukkha" because people use the term in a lot of different ways.

Not so long ago, someone told me that one Buddhist translator/author (maybe it was Stephen Batchelor?) had said that a better translation of "dukkha" would be "struggle" rather than "suffering" and I liked that a lot. We can stop struggling with our experience, but it will always be inherently painful. This translation works especially well with the parable of the two darts.

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3 years 3 months ago #110467 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic The truth of dukkha
Do you agree with Kenneth Folk's premise, Andromeda?

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3 years 3 months ago #110468 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic The truth of dukkha
So much for the end of suffering? :dry:

Chris Marti wrote: The original topic post, by Kenneth Folk:

As long as you draw breath, there is dukkha. It's not because you are doing it wrong. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand Buddhism.


But more sympathetically, enormous numbers of people I know who are/were spiritual seekers seem to be driven by a misery/anxiety/fearfulness/depression/angst that they hope will be relieved by some kind of practice. That said, others in the same context seek relief in drugs, sports, or whatever. Perhaps the relief comes in giving up seeking relief? I don't know really. There's a guy at church I've known for several years, and he's reached that point in his practice where suffering isn't something that bothers him. I know this because he is in constant pain from a bad leg/hip, but is cheerful and uncomplaining. And he suffered a setback in his hopes for a monastic life last year, and that, too, he has taken in stride. There's a resilience in him that wasn't there four years ago. I've also met people who have a deep contemplative practice that develops from an early age (8, 10, 12 years old) without it being tangled up in the kind of intensive spiritual seeking or radical conversion experience I have been more familiar with from contexts like DhO, AN, etc. I find this fascinating.

Christianity specializes in the embrace of suffering, sometimes in unusual ways, such as (rare) contemplatives who share in Christ's suffering in supernatural ways (ie Padre Pio or others with stigmata), as well as in the old traditions of penance (it is still common to see pilgrims walking on their knees at sacred sites, offering that suffering on behalf of a sick family member). The misery of human life is on display here around me, too, in ways that are more hidden from sight in the US. The poverty, the illness, the poor conditions are so visible that when one does see material wealth it, too, seems a kind of misery.

The question might be, why was there an understanding on my part, back when I first started looking for something to help me fix my mess, that pragmatic dharma offered an end of suffering? I swear I remember that being The Big Reason everyone was into it. But I might well have been misunderstanding or ignoring the parts I didn't want to hear at the time. Or everyone finally actually learned something and changed the sales pitch. :blink:

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3 years 3 months ago - 3 years 3 months ago #110471 by Andromeda
Replied by Andromeda on topic The truth of dukkha

Chris Marti wrote: Do you agree with Kenneth Folk's premise, Andromeda?


It depends on what he means by the word "dukkha," Chris. I do believe that life is inherently painful and have been trying to understand and come to terms with this since my first encounter with the dukkha nanas at age 10 or 12. No small wonder I've generally gravitated toward the more morbid types of spiritual practice.

Edit: I went through and found that he defined dukkha as the usual "unsatisfactoriness, stress, suffering" and so yes, I agree with this premise.

Edit 2: And actually, I was a morbid, death-obsessed child even prior to the dukkha nanas. So my answer to this question should probably be taken with a grain of salt!
Last edit: 3 years 3 months ago by Andromeda.

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3 years 3 months ago #110473 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic The truth of dukkha
You know what struck me, rereading the first few pages of the original thread? How often Kate participated with really interesting comments, and how much she was ignored. I miss her. I hope she's well.

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3 years 3 months ago - 3 years 3 months ago #110475 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic The truth of dukkha
Kate was very, very helpful to me way back the day. I went to see her once upon a time, and we had a nice dinner together. We disagree on a lot of things, but speaking her mind is one of the coolest things about Kate. I will always be grateful to her for introducing me to Aro Buddhism.
Last edit: 3 years 3 months ago by Chris Marti.

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3 years 3 months ago #110478 by Laurel Carrington
The definition I’ve always kept in mind is that dukkha equals pain plus resistance, so insofar as a person is not resisting, there is no dukkha. That works for me. It’s probably true that no one is awakened to the point of never experiencing resistance, taking into account that when someone shouts at us or we’re hit on the thumb with a hammer there’s an initial, reptilian brain response of “NO!” to the whole thing. But certainly it can be greatly, almost entirely, reduced. Trivial personal anecdote: I am working on a novel, and today made the mistake of deleting permanently about 5 pages of stuff I’d written yesterday. I tried different ways of recovering it and then shrugged. There was no emotion involved. I think a lot of little things can become much easier to take as time goes on, but there will always be something that gets us, depending on one’s individual personal history and patterns.

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3 years 3 months ago #110480 by Kacchapa
Replied by Kacchapa on topic The truth of dukkha

Chris Marti wrote: The original topic post, by Kenneth Folk:

As long as you draw breath, there is dukkha. It's not because you are doing it wrong. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand Buddhism.


When Kenneth posted this I wondered if he had moved on to a newer understanding than the "happiness beyond conditions". What I've remembered from KFD days was the frequently referenced goal of a happiness beyond conditions. Is that at odds with the fact of dukkha?

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3 years 3 months ago #110486 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic The truth of dukkha
Building on what Laurel said, I go with

dukka =
pain * avoidance
or
pleasure * clinging
or
fantasy * ignorance

No avoidance, clinging, or ignorance = no dukka

And I think it's okay for a human to "round down", in other words, sure you could argue that somewhere in your experience a little skin cell that is slightly itchy so there is a tiny bit of discomfort that you would sorta prefer to go away so there is a tiny bid of avoidance, so therefore there is a microscopic amount of dukka ---- and the dukka police would go "aha! admit it, you have dukka, admit it!!!". To which I would reply, get a real job dukka police. :)

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3 years 3 months ago #110487 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic The truth of dukkha
My theory is that Kenneth Folk was reacting to the pervasive idea in pragmatic dharma circles that one can rid themselves of all suffering in all forms. We can't, so in typical Kenneth fashion, he made the issue a metaphysical challenge.

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3 years 3 months ago #110490 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic The truth of dukkha

shargrol wrote: Building on what Laurel said, I go with

dukka =
pain * avoidance
or
pleasure * clinging
or
fantasy * ignorance

No avoidance, clinging, or ignorance = no dukka

And I think it's okay for a human to "round down", in other words, sure you could argue that somewhere in your experience a little skin cell that is slightly itchy so there is a tiny bit of discomfort that you would sorta prefer to go away so there is a tiny bid of avoidance, so therefore there is a microscopic amount of dukka ---- and the dukka police would go "aha! admit it, you have dukka, admit it!!!". To which I would reply, get a real job dukka police. :)


One usually has a dukkha-police force living in ones head, no? Until they quit, get fired, or go on vacation, at least.

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3 years 3 months ago #110493 by Andromeda
Replied by Andromeda on topic The truth of dukkha

shargrol wrote: Building on what Laurel said, I go with

dukka =
pain * avoidance
or
pleasure * clinging
or
fantasy * ignorance

No avoidance, clinging, or ignorance = no dukka

And I think it's okay for a human to "round down", in other words, sure you could argue that somewhere in your experience a little skin cell that is slightly itchy so there is a tiny bit of discomfort that you would sorta prefer to go away so there is a tiny bid of avoidance, so therefore there is a microscopic amount of dukka ---- and the dukka police would go "aha! admit it, you have dukka, admit it!!!". To which I would reply, get a real job dukka police. :)


But if we're to continue in the process of uprooting reactivity, don't we need something akin to "dukkha police" being aware of that stuff?

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3 years 3 months ago #110499 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic The truth of dukkha
So in this context, what I'm calling dukka police is the little voice that says: "hey, that cold breeze made me shiver a little. oh no, was that aversion? have I lost my enlightenment? is the entire realm of dharma a fantasy and we're all just naked chimpanzees? or do i need to become a monastic to fix this? aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

It could also be a little voice on the internet which says: "you mistyped the second to last sentence in your reply and used an adjective that seems like wrong speech to me. clearly you really don't know anything about meditation. and your good advice which cut right to the heart of the problem I talked about can be ignored because you are not perfect. I'm not listening to you lalalalalalalalalalala!"

So dukka police in the way I'm using it is over-sensitivity or over indulgence in the idea of dukka. Of course we need to be aware of aversion, clinging, and ignorance. But below a certain threshold, it's okay to let things self liberate as they arise :)

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3 years 3 months ago #110501 by Andromeda
Replied by Andromeda on topic The truth of dukkha
Ah, ok, gotcha. I had a martial arts teacher who called that the "inner sensei" and he said you should kill him. It sounds like this is what you mean here. Basically, the inner critic?

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3 years 3 months ago #110502 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic The truth of dukkha

Chris Marti wrote: My theory is that Kenneth Folk was reacting to the pervasive idea in pragmatic dharma circles that one can rid themselves of all suffering in all forms. We can't, so in typical Kenneth fashion, he made the issue a metaphysical challenge.


And how did this idea get to be pervasive?

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3 years 3 months ago - 3 years 3 months ago #110507 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic The truth of dukkha

And how did this idea get to be pervasive?


From my perspective, it got its start with Actual Freedom. Then the idea spread like a virus. Several prominent pragmatic dharma aficionados adopted it for a while, including the aforementioned Kenneth Folk. That was the cause of one of shargrol's schisms.

:P
Last edit: 3 years 3 months ago by Chris Marti.

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3 years 3 months ago #110513 by Andromeda
Replied by Andromeda on topic The truth of dukkha
I have a deep horror of emotional repression, but especially of fear and anger. Gives me the howling fantods. Which I try to embrace rather than repress, of course.

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3 years 3 months ago #110518 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic The truth of dukkha

Andromeda wrote: Gives me the howling fantods.


Props to anyone using DFW references. :P

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3 years 3 months ago #110521 by Chris Marti

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3 years 3 months ago #110522 by Andromeda
Replied by Andromeda on topic The truth of dukkha

Russell wrote:

Andromeda wrote: Gives me the howling fantods.


Props to anyone using DFW references. :P


Infinite Jest was brilliant. I was saddened but not surprised when DFW committed suicide--his descriptions of despair rang all too true.

Howling fantods: a serious case of the heebie jeebies; an attack of extreme uneasiness.

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