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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
forum | dukkha 69 sensual pleasures, one can focus attention on the feelings and just watch them as momentary states that arise, stand for a brief moment, and then pass away. In this way, even though the painful feeling might continue, it will not trigger emo- tional distress, at least not to the same degree. A similar method can be applied to emotional types of suffering. One could not only observe the states of dis- tress, worry, and fear, again from a posi- tion of nonidentification, but also probe more deeply into their origins. Careful observation reveals they are all arising from some kind of grasping, such as grasping the desire to achieve a particular result and then fearing that circumstances will frustrate one’s expectations. On a deeper level, one sees that all of these states of emotional distress arise from grasping for the inherent existence of a self. Finally, to overcome the deep- est dimension of dukkha—what we call “the dukkha that pervades all conditioned phenomena”—one has to develop insight into the three marks of existence: imper- manence, unsatisfactoriness, and selfless- ness, to the point where one achieves the world-transcending paths that finally and completely eradicate the defilements that keep one in bondage to the cycle of birth and death. ThuBTen Chodron: One technique in our tradition for working with the first layer of dukkha, the painful physical and mental feelings, is to understand that these are a result of our negative actions in a previous life, or even in this life. So rather than react with anger, blame, denial, and frustration, we see unpleas- ant experiences as a result of our own actions. There’s nothing to blame outside of myself, and if I don’t like experiencing these results, I need to abandon activities that are harmful and take up activities that are more beneficial for self and oth- ers. Another technique that we use is generating great compassion in response to dukkha. With respect to our own dukkha, we generate the determination to be free of samsara, which propels us to realize the nature of reality and free our minds from the uncontrolled cycle of rebirth. Then we turn that same feeling of wanting to be free from samsara and its causes to other living beings; we gener- ate great compassion and the thought “I want to become a fully awakened buddha in order to benefit all these beings most effectively.” Another practice to use with any of the three kinds of dukkha is called the “taking and giving” practice, in which we imagine taking on the dukkha of other living beings with compassion, using it to destroy our own self-centeredness and self-grasping ignorance, then wishing happiness and the causes of happiness on others, imagining giving our body, pos- sessions, our merit, everything to other living beings to alleviate their dukkha and to bring them joy. This is a profound method. I’ve done it sometimes when I’ve is it the case that all of the misfortune and disappointments that come to us, including physical pain and illness, are necessarily the result of our past karma? in the Buddha’s suttas i have not found a statement to that effect. —Bhikkhu BoDhi