Dukkhā Nikāya - A Candid Reconstruction of Buddhavacana

Well, here it is.

I’ve used Arthaviniścaya translated by Bhikkhu Ānandajoti to make this text. This is a half humour, half analysis attempt to investigate if we can indeed substitute everything with dukkha.

Even though Ven. @NgXinZhao warned me that meta truths might not be considered dukkha in the abhidhamma sense, in the spirit of brazenness of this project, I still translated 4NT and N8P with dukkha as well.

My attempt with this, is not to upset anyone; I hope it finds it’s lighthearted attempt at being so pedantic with Buddha’s words as to literally understand SN12.15 as-is:

“You’ll have no doubt or uncertainty that what arises is just suffering arising, and what ceases is just suffering ceasing.”

Any suggestions to the redaction process for this document is appreciated!

Thanks to @yeshe.tenley for the inspiration.

With abundant metta (and dukkha)! :hearts:

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My earliest views after doing this project:

Substituting everything with dukkha makes some weird errors! In the case of Formless Attainments in particular.

This would have to be Adukkha Attainments or something like that. However, absence of a particular flavour of dukkha, doesn’t necessarily mean absence of all dukkha.

So, there seems to be (an illusion?) some kind of different dukkhas. :smiley: Everything might be dukkha, but that doesn’t mean everything is the same as all kinds of other dukkhas.

This is wonderful! I applaud your attempt at a test of the hypothesis that all is literally synonymous with dukkha. However, I have a question about the methodology:


Homage to the Buddha!

This I heard:

at one time the Gracious One was dwelling near Śrāvastī, at Mṛgāra’s mother’s mansion in the Eastern Grounds, together with a great monastic community of one thousand, two-hundred and fifty monastics.

There the Gracious One, with a voice that was firm, deep, sweet, noble and without fault, addressed the monastics (saying):

“I will teach the Dharma to you, monastics, those Dharma teachings that are good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end, with their meaning, with their (proper) phrasing, I will make known the dukkha life which is complete, fulfilled, accomplished, that is to say, the Dharma instruction known as the Analysis of the dukkhā. Listen well and carefully, apply your dukkhā, and I will speak.”

“Surely, Gracious One,” those monastics replied to the Gracious One, and the Gracious One said this:

“What, monastics, are the Dharma instructions known as the Analysis of the dukkhā?

Shouldn’t this be:

Dukkha to the Dukkha!

Dukkha I dukkha:

at Dukkha Dukkha the Dukkha Dukkha was Dukkha near Dukkha, at Dukkha Dukkha Dukkha in the Dukkha Dukkha, together with a Dukkha Dukkha Dukkha of one Dukkha, Dukkha-Dukkha and Dukkha Dukkha.

There the Dukkha Dukkha, with a Dukkha that was Dukkha, Dukkha, Dukkha, Dukkha and without Dukkha, addressed the Dukkha (Dukkha):

“Dukkha will teach the Dukkha to Dukkha, Dukkha, those Dukkha Dukkha that are Dukkha in the Dukkha, Dukkha in the Dukkha, Dukkha in the Dukkha, with their Dukkha, with their (proper) Dukkha, Dukkha will make Dukkha the Dukkha Dukkha which is Dukkha, Dukkha, Dukkha, that is to Dukkha, the Dukkha Dukkha known as the Dukkha of the dukkhā. Dukkha well and Dukkha, Dukkha Dukkha Dukkha, and Dukkha will Dukkha.”

“Surely, Dukkha Dukkha,” those Dukkha Dukkha to the Dukkha Dukkha, and the Dukkha Dukkha Dukkha this:

“What, Dukkha, are the Dukkha Dukkha Dukkha as the Dukkha of the dukkhā?

I thought the point was to replace all parts of speech that could be associated in some fashion with a ‘conditioned thing’ with ‘dukkha’, right? So could you say exactly which words you’ve chosen to substitute with dukkha?

Thanks for this! :pray:

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This is true! I still wanted to preserve some form of narration. So I used generally the most common terms.

Perhaps a conventional dukkha and an ultimate dukkha editions are in order… :crazy_face:

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This, however, is beautiful beyond dukkha.

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Now that I see this I think it actually could be beneficial as a reading practice for some minds. Minds that would tend to take this literally though could very easily become similar to minds that take seeing the body as a corpse and pus and blood to the extreme of self harm. But if you’re quite attached to one of the words that you substituted as dukkha reading this could be beneficial I would think? As long as it is not taken to an extreme of interpretation :pray:

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I don’t know much about Zen, but some voice is telling me that @Dogen is showing some of the results of Zen practice? :joy: I rejoice in your joy at seeing dhamma :pray:

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You would feel right at home! Nagarjuna is greatly respected in most Zen schools, and Dōgen himself is said to borrow extensively from his methodology, with the use of tetralemmas in his expositions. :slight_smile:

There’s a bit of self-making in these though, but this self is precisely the nibbāna element you explain as sunyata, so perhaps you won’t mind. :smiley:

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not helpful. Basically have to compare with original to see what is being said.

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So, you think I went too far, @yeshe.tenley thinks I didn’t go far enough.

I suppose that’s the Middle Way :laughing:

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Its difficult for me to follow this. ‘Dukkha’ in SN 12.15 reads as though it literally means ‘suffering’. SN 12.15 says:

The world is for the most part shackled by attraction, grasping, and insisting. But if—when it comes to this attraction, grasping, mental fixation, insistence, and underlying tendency—you don’t get attracted, grasp, and commit to the notion ‘my self’, you’ll have no doubt or uncertainty that what arises is just suffering arising, and what ceases is just suffering ceasing. Your knowledge about this is independent of others.

Shackled by attraction, grasping, mental fixation, insistence, underlying tendency, commit to the notion ‘my self’ are all types of mentally disturbing emotional suffering.

Dukkha exists, this is one extreme. Dukkha does not exist, this is the other extreme. One does not insist on that existence (eternalism) or non-existence (nihilism) of dukkha is my self. Then, when dukkha, being not real, arises, it arises by causal condition (nidāna); when dukkha, being not real, ceases, it ceases by causal condition.

Dukkha is empty of both existence (externalism) of self-view and non-existence (annihilationism) of self-view.

Cf. SN 12.15 and SA 301.
Cf. also SN 22.95 and SA 265 on emptiness (rittaka, tucchaka, asāraka): The five aggregates are seen as void (rittaka), insubstantial ( tucchaka), and lacking essence (asāraka).

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SN 12.17 reads to say dukkha exists is not an extreme view.

“Well, is there no such thing as suffering?”
‘Kiṁ nu kho, bho gotama, natthi dukkhan’ti?

“It’s not that there’s no such thing as suffering.
‘Na kho, kassapa, natthi dukkhaṁ.

Suffering is real.”
Atthi kho, kassapa, dukkhan’ti.

SN 22.95 does not read as though it is about emptiness (sunnata).

I never read this in a sutta.

My reading finds these terms are about self rather than dukkha. SN 12.15 says the concept of the world is based on existence and non-existence.

Non-existence is not nihilism

I can’t understand the above statement. SN 22.90 is the same as SN 12.15.

I can picture there are those who have been corrected about SN 22.95 many times but they never relinquish their tightly held wrong views.

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Note the middle way teaching of Conditioned Arising in SN/SA suttas is different level of emptiness teaching. Cf. also SN 22.90 and SA 262; see pp. 34-36 (particularly p. 36):

Pages 34-36 from Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism @Choong Mun-keat.pdf (501.9 KB)

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@Dogen Now you can see the amount of non-sense this can trigger?

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Well that’s the point! To make the formal connections and analyse the implications. :slight_smile:

It seems the Pāli of SN12.15 doesn’t necessarily read what we think it does:

Dukkhameva uppajjamānaṁ uppajjati, dukkhaṁ nirujjhamānaṁ nirujjhatī.

Here “Eva” is translated as “Only arrising”. Perhaps then, the correct translation would be “You’ll have no doubt indeed that suffering arises”.


‘Sabbamatthī’ti kho, kaccāna, ayameko anto.
‘Sabbaṁ natthī’ti ayaṁ dutiyo anto.

‘Atthi** kho, kassapa, dukkhaṁ

Perhaps Ven. @sujato would like to chime in and help us clear our this debris!

It is not that difficult to understand that all what is conditioned is liable to cease. All of this nature (sankhata) is not reliable, not stable, not constant, not-desintegrating. It cannot function as refuge, safety, protection we seek amidst this burning, fearful, violent, insecure world.

Also nice feelings, nice mental states, nice existences, are sankhata.In its change, in its arising and its ceasing, it is not stable, it is also unreliable, burning with unsaftey, unprotectedness, and that is dukkha, and not what Buddha sought.

Buddha teaches the Path to the stable, constant, not-desintegrating (Asankhata, SN43). This is reliable.
Not-dukkha. Nibbana is not dukkha. But as long we do not know the stilling of all formation, peace, Nibbana, cessation, which can be directly known (MN1 and others), we are also not really able to understand the First Noble Truth. For example, how can one know that all feelings are dukkha, if one does not know that the cessation of all feeling states is bliss? I believe Sariputta did have that knowledge. He directly knew that the cessation of perception and feeling is bliss. And then one also knows that the re-occurance of perceptions and feelings represents a modicum of stress.

Here there is no stress due to the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, or ignorance. There is only this modicum of stress, namely that associated with the six sense fields dependent on this body and conditioned by life.

The idea that we must not take it literally that formations are dukkha is by some felt as a judgement i think. A standpoint. But i believe that this only show that these people do not know Nibbana, like for example Sariputta did.

In the end, we do not know even the first noble truth when we do not know Nibbana. We will never be able to understand why a noble knows that even nice feelings are dukkha, if we have not the reference of the bliss of stilling of all formations, Nibbana. I believe.

From knowing the stilling of all formation as blissful one also know: that only suffering will cease.