What is dukkha?

Continuing the discussion from Latest Scientific Knowledge & Sarvastivadins:

Opening a new thread to discuss is and dukkha and what various forum members understand these terms to mean.

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Hello @Vaddha,

Some statements I’ve found on this forum and in sutta:

  • The aggregates are dukkha
  • The aggregates are burning chaff
  • The aggregates are impermanent
  • The aggregates are a dart
  • The aggregates are alien
  • Dukkha is our experience
  • Dukkha is any experience
  • Dukkha is all conditioned phenomena
  • Dukkha is caused by craving
  • Dukkha is a negation of sukha
  • Dukkha is not sukha
  • Dukkha of change is sukkha
  • Dukkha is the anxiety and stress that pervades our present existence
  • Dukkha is a property of objects/sankharas
  • Dukkha is an adjective
  • Dukkha is experienced
  • Dukkha is a description
  • Dukkha is not descriptive of the world in which we have our experience
  • Dukkha is craving
  • Dukkha is not craving
  • Dukkha is internet discussions
  • Dukkha is the Noble Eightfold path
  • Dukkha is the Tathagata
  • Dukkha is this thread
  • Dukkha is Yeshe Tenley

And many more.

@Vaddha, the contention made by many on this forum is that:

  • The aggregates are literally dukkha

At least they object when I make the statement:

  • The aggregates are not literally dukkha

A lot of comments have flown past and other conversations about dukkha have come up, but I wanted to ground our further discussion and go back to this summary.

Do you agree that this is what we’re conversing about? That my contention is that it is a mistake to view the aggregates as literal suffering? And that you believe (along with many others) that my contention itself is a mistake? Before we go further, that’s what we’re talking about right?

I think you believe that when I said “they are not literally dukkha” and then attempted to justify this, that I offered a vacuous or trivial justification based on a trick of language, right? That is the ground upon which we left the discussion, correct?


I don’t care much about the literal thing you put in there, as long as you agree with this statement:

The 5 aggregates are always dukkha of change and dukkha of conditionality. It is unsatisfactory because it is impermanent and conditioned. Clung to or not, it remains true.


Hello Venerable @NgXinZhao,

Respectfully, I don’t agree. However, based on our past conversations around this topic I don’t know there is much benefit to again spelling out where we disagree. At least from my point of view, I think I understand fairly well why we don’t agree. If you don’t understand why we don’t agree and wish to clarify further I can try, but perhaps it is best that we just acknowledge disagreement in friendship at this point in time. :pray:

Are internet discussions about what dukkha is dukkha or sukkha?

I think certainly dukkha !
(Like all conditioned things)

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:joy: Couldn’t that then be shortened to, “Internet discussion are dukkha?” :joy: :pray:


Or, ‘the internet is dukkha’.’


I’ve added it to my list :joy: :pray:

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Maybe you can summarize it like this:

  1. All conditioned things are dukkha.
    Question: “Is it dukkha?”
    Answer: see # 1.

The world’s first Buddhist choose your own adventure book coming to children’s bookstores this summer:

Dukkha is ___

^Only rule is you can’t insert ‘parinibbana’

:joy: :pray:

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@yeshe.tenley I said basically the same thing. Since you don’t agree with my statement, I take it that you don’t agree with this as well. And you don’t agree with the dhamma then?

Hello @Venerable,

Respectfully, no, I do not agree, but I do agree with the dhamma as I understand it. I just don’t agree with your interpretation of it. Your contention is that your interpretation of the dhamma is right and mine is wrong. That is where we respectfully disagree. :pray:

I think to understand better what is dukkha , perhaps we should be asking this question . Given anyone of us is an arahant with 1 million years of lifespan , would you still regards the very existence of the aggregates with its day by day repetitive living conditions and with constant sicknesses while you can imagine that is still some sort of a blissful state ? :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

You don’t agree with this:

Or don’t agree with my speculation that you don’t agree with the above? Which means you agree with the above.

No, I do not think that is an accurate or sufficient description of my understanding of dhamma. :pray:

still ambiguous. I will just take it that you don’t agree with all conditioned things are ultimately dukkha.

Maybe another way of stating it:

  1. Unless it’s nibbăna it’s dukkha.
    Question: “Is samsara dukkha?”
    Answer: see #1.
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I do not think that conditioned things are ultimately anything. :pray:


All conditions are suffering—
“Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā”ti,
when this is seen with wisdom,
yadā paññāya passati;
one grows disillusioned with suffering:
Atha nibbindati dukkhe,
this is the path to purity.
esa maggo visuddhiyā.

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SN 22.136

“Mendicants, form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness are burning chaff.
“Rūpaṁ, bhikkhave, kukkuḷaṁ, vedanā kukkuḷā, saññā kukkuḷā, saṅkhārā kukkuḷā, viññāṇaṁ kukkuḷaṁ.

Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness.
Evaṁ passaṁ, bhikkhave, sutavā ariyasāvako rūpasmimpi nibbindati, vedanāyapi nibbindati, saññāyapi nibbindati, saṅkhāresupi nibbindati, viññāṇasmimpi nibbindati.

Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.
Nibbindaṁ virajjati; virāgā vimuccati. Vimuttasmiṁ vimuttamiti ñāṇaṁ hoti.

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