We’ve covered a lot of ground in these Weekly Practices, and now you should have a good idea of what mindfulness and concentration are and how meditation develops both. We’ve also looked closely at the impermanence of everything, including the five aggregates that we tend to mistake for a static self. Lastly, we took a good look at craving and attachment.
This week we’ll examine dukkha, often translated as suffering. Dukkha is also the third mark of existence and the subject of the noble truths.
You wouldn’t know from the title of the sutta — “The Greater Discourse on the Destruction of Craving” — that this is one of the suttas that gives the most detail on dependent arising (aka dependent origination, interdependent co-arising, etc) but it is one in which the Buddha attempts to put across the concept that was the backbone of all his teachings. He describes it backwards (which is normal) and forwards (used almost as frequently). He covers arising, and he covers cessation (backwards and forwards). And then he describes it in terms of fire, in terms of nutriment, and in terms of one person’s life, as well as pointing out what we should and shouldn’t care about if we properly understand it (we would not, for example, have any reason to be wondering who we were in the past or who we will be in the future).(1)
One of the many little things I have discovered while studying the Pali texts over the last several years is that the people of the Buddha’s time were obsessed with food. You may laugh, if you like, but this is actually important. I hear all the time that, in interpreting these texts, we need to [...]
“Therefore, Ananda, you should live with one’s self as an island, one’s self as a refuge . . . . And how does a monk live like this? Here Ananda, a monk abides contemplating the body as body, earnestly, clearly aware, mindful . . . and likewise with regard to feelings, mind and dhamma. And [...]
by Mark Knickelbine In The Goal of Practice and elsewhere, I have argued along with Stephen Batchelor that the goal of secular dharma practice is not a final cessation of suffering (regardless of how many thousands of times the Pali canon says otherwise). As Batchelor points out, the word commonly translated as “suffering” in English [...]