About Dukkha (Suffering)

April 1, 2022 Cognitive Insights No Comments

Central to Buddhism, from early on – and even somewhat earlier – is that dukkha (suffering, stress, fundamental unsatisfactoriness, dis-ease) exists and can be alleviated. Buddha showed a way to do so; I show two.

The flower bud

You find this metaphor as the first one in my e-book nr. 2, a collection of 12 primary Aurelian metaphors.

When the flower bud keeps closed by itself (the top of the bud doesn’t let go and that’s it), there is little suffering. There is also little flower.

When nature intensely keeps calling for the opening by putting stress on the bud – which it does – there is suffering.

So, what is dukkha?

The concept is notoriously difficult to define, let alone translate. The terms used above are approximations with no consensus on which is the best. In such a case, a metaphor is welcome.

Dukkha is an interplay. The suffering of the bud is the feeling that nature itself keeps pushing relentlessly. Since this never stops, the bud’s situation is hopeless. Meanwhile, nature’s suffering lies in not wanting to hurt the bud, but nevertheless, it does so.

What provokes the suffering: nature, or the bud?

Combine the above with the insight that the bud and nature are not separate. You get the metaphor even better if you see that they are the same thing. There is only one suffering, even though there appear to be two. That’s one profound reason why it is difficult to grasp the concept of dukkha.

So, logically, the cause of the stress is the interaction of both strivings. This is also the cause of all suffering.

The relief of all suffering

There are two separate ways to relieve the suffering, a good and a bad way ― in my view.

The good way is to support the flower to get Open. The bad way is to fight the suffering directly ― thinking of painkillers or antidepressants.

The latter way is ‘bad’ because it works against nature. AURELIS is a nature philosophy. The aim is to go along with nature, then make the best of it ― for instance, striving for an excellent integration of culture with nature.

It’s ‘bad’ also because, in the end, one can never win against the immense power of nature. One can hide, run, deny, suffer in silence, get bogged down, get very ill, die, etc. Nature is not even interested in ‘winning’ since it does so anyway.

So, we know what suffering is and how to relieve it.

Let the work begin.

I don’t want to insinuate it’s easy. Also, it’s the work of a lifetime. In any case, you know where to find some support.

No need to be a Buddhist, of course.

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