Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dukkha Door

The Buddha's way points to three possible doors to liberation: dukkha (suffering), anica (impermanence), and anatta (not self). For each of us, the door may be different. For me, dukkha has been, is the gateway. Whenever I pay close attention, I always find suffering, even during the happiest moments. And it is the willingness and conviction of the worthiness to fully explore such suffering that always lead me to break free. This is in marked contrast to times past when I used to dread 'my' suffering. 

From Ajahn Sumedho, in The Four Noble Truths:
With mindfulness, we are willing to bear with the whole of life; with the excitement and the boredom, the hope and the despair, the pleasure and the pain, the fascination and the weariness, the beginning and the ending, the birth and the death. We are willing to accept the whole of it in the mind rather than absorb into just the pleasant and suppress the unpleasant. The process of insight is the going to dukkha, looking at dukkha, admitting dukkha, recognizing dukkha in all its forms. Then you are no longer just reacting in the habitual way of indulgence or suppression. And because of that, you can bear with suffering more, you can be more patient with it.
No longer being deluded about the nature of life. Not hoping for a life without suffering. And paradoxically finding moments of freedom, with no self-created suffering. 

Does dukkha 'speaks' to you? How are you with it?


  1. Thank you. Again. My 16 year old daughter just died suddenly on April 4th. She was very physically disabled (we had spent many days at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in the last couple of years) but her death was sudden and shocking. I had "prepared" for her death for many many years but her loss is now real.

  2. Oh! Jody, I am so sorry . . . My heart goes out to you in your grief. May you have the wisdom and strength to bear it, and even grow from it.

  3. I think that perhaps suffering is too strong a word most of the time. I agree that suppressing thoughts or perceptions that are unpleasant is bad and leads to anxiety and a lack of mindfulness because it is internally dishonest, but I do not think it has to be suffering. For Jody, above, that is suffering. I am sorry that you and your family have to deal with such a difficult situation.

    I have nothing like that, and yet I still suppress thoughts sometimes that do not fall into anything remotely approaching the same area has Jody's suffering.

    For me the concept has to be more generalized, I guess is all I'm saying. That and I feel like the concept as it resonates in my life is not best described by suffering.

  4. Maybe unsatisfactoriness? (which is actually the more accurate translation of pali word 'dukkha')