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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
forum | dukkha 71 BhiKKhu Bodhi: 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. That idea has come into the Buddhist tradition, but it doesn’t seem to stem from the Bud- dha’s discourses as they’ve been preserved, at least in the Pali tradition. One method the Buddha teaches to deal with this ques- tion of karma, and that I use, is to recog- nize that the principle of karma and its fruit applies to one’s actions in the present. So if one engages in unwholesome actions in the present, then those actions, if they get the opportunity to mature, will even- tually bring painful, disagreeable results in the future. But this does not necessarily mean that all of the painful, disagreeable experiences we undergo are the reflections of our past karma. Probably a large pro- portion of them are, but it’s not necessar- ily the case that all of them are. Buddhadharma: From the perspective of your tradition, what is the ultimate goal when working with dukkha? Is it to eradicate it? To make friends with it? What are we aiming for? Konin Cardenas: In the Zen tradition, the view is that each moment is a reso- lution of all the causes and conditions that led up to it. All of the conditions and causes are harmonious; they’re done. That includes karma. So the ultimate rela- tionship to dukkha would be to see that the causes and conditions necessary for the suffering or dissatisfaction that’s pres- ent are complete, and our response to the moment now is what determines whether they will arise again or whether they will cease. Our ability to step into this larger understanding of self—not as fixed but as the interdependent arising of all things— allows us to actually see the causes of suffering and the causes of the end of suffering, and to be able to arrive at some kind of acceptance, not in the sense that everything is okay but in the sense of acknowledging what is with respect to dukkha in our lives and the things we do to contribute to it. marK unno: In the Mahayana tradi- tion, we say that if we truly deepen our awareness of samsara, we come into the awareness of nirvana. We realize that the very thing we perceive as the realm of suffering or discontent becomes trans- formed into our awareness of nirvana or emptiness. So we emphasize that we don’t try to get rid of suffering; instead, we deepen our awareness of dukkha, and in that deepening awareness we realize that the true nature of the unfolding of reality is great compassion. Suffering becomes transformed into great compassion, yet it doesn’t get transformed into something that is different from its very nature. The very nature of suffering reveals itself to be great compassion. BhiKKhu Bodhi: The goal of the Bud- dha’s teaching in the early discourses, as we can see from the formula for the four noble truths, is in fact the cessation of dukkha. The Buddha says, “What I teach is just dukkha and the cessation of dukkha.” In the early discourses, we distinguish two aspects of the cessation of dukkha with two dimensions of nib- bana. One is the dimension of nibbana to be realized in this present life, also called the nibbana with residue remaining. This