Why Is The Word ‘Duhkha’ (Suffering) So Important?

If we become familiar with the origins of our suffering,
our heart will open to suffering of others.

To recognise suffering is the path to enlightenment;
recognition brings an end to suffering.

Even if we cover up suffering by making do with distractions, we still suffer.

This has always been our choice.

‘Duḥkha’ in Sanskrit translates as suffering, unhappiness, pain, dissatisfaction or stress. It is the fundamental dissatisfaction and pain of mundane life. It is the first of the Four Noble Truths.

This first truth is caused by an identification with the self-image that we cherish: we become vulnerable and protective of this self-image which feels constantly under attack, and so attacks others.

Suffering is what Mara (negative mind) feeds off. Mara lies in ambush, which is significant as we do not attack outright, but need a hook, a vulnerability for us to pounce on. Our vulnerability is our ignorance, our not-knowing.

A bad situation arises, and we can indulge in it, making things seem worse. People never win; people pay and people suffer, and so it goes on …

The good news is that, in times of catastrophe, we suffering en masse. At this moment, the world is ‘suffering’. It may get – or seem to get – worse, but it is the beginning of mass waking up. When we experience total confusion, we experience emptiness.

This is something Mara mind cannot understand.
The emptiness of experience
the experience of emptiness.

Before we get involved in anything, we just see, feel, taste, hear or smell. That is always a moment of pure perception, of pure experience empty of contamination. There are no expectations; we are just ‘tasting’. The yoga of experiencing is the moment we step outside, and before we judge whether it’s warm or cool.

This is the experience of emptiness, and the emptiness of experience. As this is so, we can also consider that whatever is experienced is empty of permanent reality, despite whatever designation we may give.

The experience of emptiness
the emptiness of experience.

This is the spiritual and material understanding of everything.
It is the basis of the Heart Sutra: “Gone, gone, gone, beyond … ”


Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva doing deep Prajna Paramita 
Perceived the emptiness of all five conditions, and was freed of pain.
O Sariputra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form;
Form is precisely emptiness, emptiness precisely form;
Sensation, perception, reaction and consciousness are also like this.
O Sariputra, all things are expressions of emptiness, not born, not destroyed,
Not stained, not pure; neither waxing nor waning.
Thus emptiness is not form; not sensation nor perception, reaction nor consciousness;
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, thing
No realm of sight, no realm of consciousness
No ignorance, no end to ignorance
No old age and death, no cessation of old age and death
No suffering, no cause or end to suffering, no path
No wisdom and no gain. No gain—thus
Bodhisattvas live this Prajna Paramita
With no hindrance of mind—no hindrance therefore no fear.

Far beyond all such delusion, Nirvana is already here.
All past, present, and future Buddhas live this Prajna Paramita
And attain supreme, perfect enlightenment.
Therefore know that Prajna Paramita is
The holy mantra, the luminous mantra
The supreme mantra, the incomparable mantra
By which all suffering is cleared.
This is no other than truth.
Therefore set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra.
Set forth this mantra and proclaim:

Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha!

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