Were going to start a new series of on some fundamental Buddhist teachings — those things every Buddhist needs to know (and not know) — and maybe the most fundamental, insightful and elegant is the Buddha’s teaching of the Four Noble Truths, and Dukkha:
So, what are the ‘Four Noble Truths‘ (the Buddha’s earliest teaching)?
Life often entails Dukkha; there is a cause for Dukkha; there is a way to the cessation of Dukkha; that way is the Noble Eightfold Path.
So, what’s “Dukkha”? …and what does Dukkha do?
No one English word captures the full depth and range of the Pali term, Dukkha. It is sometimes rendered as “suffering,” as in “life is suffering.” But perhaps it’s better expressed as “dissatisfaction,” “anxiety,” “disappointment,” “unease at perfection,” or “frustration” — terms that wonderfully convey a subtlety of meaning.
In a nutshell, your “self” wishes this world to be X, yet this world is not X. The mental state that may result to the “self” from this disparity is Dukkha.
Shakyamuni Buddha gave many examples: sickness (when we do not wish to be sick), old age (when we long for youth), death (if we cling to life), loss of a loved one (as we cannot let go), violated expectations, the failure of happy moments to last (though we wish them to last). Even joyous moments — such as happiness and good news, treasure or pleasant times — can be a source of suffering if we cling to them, if we are attached to those things.
In ancient stories, Dukkha is often compared to a chariot’s or potter’s wheel that will not turn smoothly as it revolves. The opposite, Sukkha, is a wheel that spins smoothly and noiselessly, without resistance as it goes.
Fortunately, Shakyamuni Buddha also provided the Dukkha cure.