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  • dukkha

(1) 'pain', painful feeling, which may be bodily and mental (s. vedanā).

(2) 'Suffering', 'ill'. As the first of the Four Noble Truths (s. sacca) and the second of the three characteristics of existence (s. ti-lakkhana), the term dukkha is not limited to painful experience as under (1), but refers to the unsatisfactory nature and the general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena which, on account of their impermanence, are all liable to suffering, and this includes also pleasurable experience. Hence 'unsatisfactoriness' or 'liability to suffering' would be more adequate renderings, if not for stylistic reasons. Hence the first truth does not deny the existence of pleasurable experience, as is sometimes wrongly assumed. This is illustrated by the following texts:

"Seeking satisfaction in the world, monks, I had pursued my way. That satisfaction in the world I found. In so far as satisfaction existed in the world, I have well perceived it by wisdom. Seeking for misery in the world, monks, I had pursued my way. That misery in the world I found. In so far as misery existed in the world, I have well perceived it by wisdom. Seeking for the escape from the world, monks, I had pursued my way. That escape from the world I found. In so far as an escape from the world existed, I have well perceived it by wisdom" (A. 111, 101).

"If there were no satisfaction to be found in the world, beings would not be attached to the world .... If there were no misery to be found in the world, beings would not be repelled by the world .... If there were no escape from the world, beings could not escape therefrom" (A. 111, 102).

See dukkhatā. For texts on the Truth of Suffering, see W. of B. and 'Path'.

See The Three Basic Facts of Existence, II. Suffering (WHEEL 191/193).


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