The Path to No Path

Suffering

By suffering, I mean what the Buddha meant by the Pāli word dukkha, which is sometimes translated inaccurately as ‘pain’. However, this is generally much too strong a word. Dukkha, or ‘suffering’ (as I use the word) covers the whole gamut from the deepest anguish and agony all the way down to the slightest feeling that perhaps the present situation might just benefit from a little improvement. It is a perception that the present experience is unpleasant or unsatisfactory, along with the judgement that this should not be so.

Although the Buddha spoke a great deal about experiences being perceived as unpleasant, he did not deny that there in fact many pleasant experiences to be had in life, saying that if there were not pleasant experiences to be found in the world, people would not be attached to being in the world. And he himself would indulge in certain meditative experiences that are highly pleasurable, saying that these were pleasures which he would allow himself.

It seems to me that many people suffer dukkha without being aware of the fact. If you have lived for a long, long time with a discomfort, you get used to it being there, and so you tend to ignore it. It is only when you then experience a moment when the suffering is absent that you come to realise that it had been there. It is just like habituating to constant background noise. If the noise suddenly stops, you notice the sudden silence.

I have heard that in North Dakota the wind blows all the time. One day, however, the wind stopped, and all the chickens fell over.

This is how it is if you should one day realise the truth about suffering - one glimpse of the sudden absence of it is enough to change your life forever.

The most important thing to note here, is the judgement: "This should not be!" Or, to be more precise, it is the attempt to change the situation that leads directly to suffering. If you say "no" to life, you will be unhappy. It is that simple.

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If you should wish to contact me about anything you have read here, especially if you feel strongly for or against what you have read, or if you feel that something is missing, I offer you an opportunity to share.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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