The Concept of Dukkha in Buddhism
From its origins in India to its expansion North to Tibet and East through China and eventually Japan, Buddhism has undergone many changes. These changes are usually evidenced in its iconography, and somewhat in popular practice, but the essential tenets remain unchanged. One of these tenets is "Dukkha" or the idea of inescapable human suffering. The kinds and origins of dukkha are as varied as the regional practices of Buddhism itself, ranging from the ancient and very symbolic, to the modern and very pragmatic. Explanations of dukkha, no matter from what ideology they come, offer an interesting insight into one religions standpoint on human suffering.
Dukkha is a fascinating concept that asserts that suffering is the lot of anyone born to this existence, the so-called "bad news" of Buddhism. Unlike other religions that assert that suffering is either the will of God, or an inheritance of original sin, Buddhism places suffering squarely at the bearers doorstep, either by past bad karmic actions, the discomfort we cause ourselves by searching for inherently unfulfilling paths, or by the simple fact that by inhabiting a human form we are subject to the deterioration of all physical matter. Aging, growing, living, and dying are all facts that even the most enlightened cannot transcend.
Since all of the translations of Buddhist philosophy I've been able to consult are in English, and for the most part done by Americans (with the exception of a few ) I will begin by acknowledging the fact that by definition English translation/ relation of Buddhist text are at least minimally affected by modern influence the fluctuation in meaning of the same kinda of dukkha. I will clarify:
Buddhism is a religion of numbers. While in many religions the symbolism of numbers has long been mystical, memorial, or even used as a way to teach the illiterate; Buddhism makes use of numbers in so many ways as to make your head spin. The first and foremost among those numbers being the Four Noble Truths: the first, as was mentioned earlier, that we all, great and small, must suffer (dukkha). The second being that while there are different kinds of dukkha we tend to bring it on ourselves because we seek satisfaction in ways that are inherently dissatisfying. The third, and fourth noble truths are respectively, that the possibility of liberationfrom dukkha exists for all, and that the way to liberation is virtue, wisdom, and meditation; all delineated in The Eightfold Path of Enlightenment. While these Four Noble Truths have been stated much more bluntly or eloquently than I have managed here, it is most necessary to understand the first two Noble Truths for our purposes.
In my research to list and define different kinds and origins of dukka, I was more suprised to find that indeed, putting a finger (an English speaking finger at that) on the word dukkha itself was quite a...