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Buddhadharma : Spring 2008
buddhadharma| 33 |spring 2008 BuddhAdhArmA: Since the third noble truth is about the cessation of dukkha, most commonly called suffering in english, perhaps we could first discuss what dukkha really means. Andrew Olendzki: Dukkha covers a wide spectrum, from physical pain, aging, and getting ill or injured up through the suffering that comes from change and on to the psychological suffering that results when we don’t get what we want or when things go the way we don’t want them to. Finally, it includes the suffering occasioned by great existential issues, like the fact that we’re all going to die. Suffering is primarily the resistance to the truth of those things. that resistance causes a lot of heat or friction in our psychological makeup. BlAnche hArtmAn: From what I understand, the ety- mological roots of dukkha have to do with the image of a wheel whose hub is not quite in the center. that brings up the notion of something that is never quite right, always a little off, a bumpy ride. that bumpy ride includes everything from losing someone near and dear to you to something just touching you the wrong way. We all experience old age, sickness, and death, which are classical categories of dukkha. No one is free from those. the Buddha says that dukkha is simply present in our life. It’s not right or wrong or good or bad. It’s just our experience. things sometimes don’t go the way we want them to, and it’s more or less uncomfortable. GAylOn ferGusOn: traditionally, we say there are three kinds of suffering: the suffering of suffering; the suf- fering of change; and fundamental or all-pervasive suffering. the suffering of suffering, as andrew indicated, means that if we burn our finger, it hurts. the suffering of change is the alternation from one condition to another, and the change can go both ways: from a pleasurable condition to something painful, or from something painful—that we never- theless get accustomed to—to a happier state. that instability alone is suffering, which leads us to the third kind of suffering. as both Zenkei and andrew mentioned, we’re struggling with things as they are. So the fundamental suffering, the suffering of fixa- tion, one could say, has to do with the fact that we are attempting to solidify what is a fluid and impermanent situation. that constriction could be there even in moments of apparent happiness, if we are holding on to those moments. We tend to overlook basic suffering, though. traditionally, it is said that with practice one becomes more sensitive to this basic suffering. Initially, it might be like a hair touching the hand, but for the wise, this fundamental suffering is like a hair touching the eye. BuddhAdhArmA: Why is the first kind called the suf- fering of suffering? GAylOn ferGusOn: the original phrase is simply “dukkha dukkha,” the pain of pain. Andrew Olendzki: When these words are put side by side, they’re being used in two different ways. First, it just means pain, as in pleasure and pain, sukkha and dukkha. that level of pain is never going to go away. even on his deathbed, the Buddha said, “my body is wracked with pain right now.” Pain is a feeling tone, which is one of the aggregates. It’s hardwired into the mechanism of the human mind and body, you might say. But when you put the second word after it, dukkha dukkha, then it’s used in the other sense, the one Zenkei referred to as things being not quite right, or wobbly. It’s not that pain is the problem and that it will go away when you’re awakened. Pain is inevitable, but the distress caused by that physical pain will go away when you’re enlightened. So in the phrase “dukkha dukkha,” the first dukkha is simple pain and the second dukkha is the resistance to that pain. BuddhAdhArmA: are the pain of alternation and the all-pervasive pain as inevitable as the original dukkha, the pain of touching a hot stove? DaviDyizeNkeiblaNcheharTmaNphoTographeDbyroberTamargolis