I asked these two horses this morning to try to get a completely unbiased opinion on the subject, right out of the horses mouth sort of speak. The first one laughed and walked away so I asked his buddy. The second one ignored my question, looked me right in the eye, and asked me why I never bring them snacks.
The Pali word dukkha means suffering and stress and unsatisfactoriness, but it also includes all the minor annoyances of life as well. It’s basically getting what one does not want and not getting what one does want.
I had a chance to see and experience dukkha in several ways this afternoon. There was a hot air balloon preparing to launch and I stopped to take some photos. I could see this was going to take quite a while so I had to leave to find a bathroom and come back.
I watched the crew struggle to drive the van with all the equipment onto the grass but it was too soft and muddy, and they got stuck several times. I spoke to the pilot who was determined to launch no matter what so he could get his certificate, though he was obviously frustrated.
About 45 minutes later they got the balloon hooked up to the basket and set up the fan to inflate it. I felt sorry for this guy as he pulled and pulled but the fan wouldn’t start. It turned out it was out of gas so they filled it up and were back in action.
His crew seemed to have no experience and had to have everything explained to them at least twice, but eventually the balloon was up, up and away and I trudged back through the mud to my car.
Because of the direction the van ended up parking I didn’t have the beautiful late afternoon light, but I tried to get an image I could use that would capture the essence of dukkha.
Novelist Hermann Hesse, author of Siddhartha said: “I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” Yes.
“After us they’ll fly in hot air balloons, coat styles will change, perhaps they’ll discover a sixth sense and cultivate it, but life will remain the same, a hard life full of secrets, but happy. And a thousand years from now man will still be sighing, Oh! Life is so hard! and will still, like now, be afraid of death and not want to die.” Anton Chekhov
A horse is suing his former owners in Oregon for negligence after they left him starved and badly frostbitten. Justice, an 8-year old American quarter horse is named as the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by his new owners, who are treating him well on a farm in the Cascade mountain range.
The revenge seeking stud wants $100,000 for veterinary care along with pain and suffering. This is a real case as reported in the New York Post, the Oregon City Patch and the Independent as well as many others.
I believe it was Friedrich Nietzsche who said: “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” I hope Justice finds meaning as well as the hundred grand he’s suing for. Maybe one day he can even go to college to become a veterinarian like Mister Ed.