What is Dukkha?

Perseverance
Perseverance

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.

Monkey Mind

Monkey Mind
Monkey Mind

The Buddha said that we all have monkey minds, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear and anxiety are very loud monkeys, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.

Daniel B. Smith, author of the book Monkey Mind writes: “Admit the anxiety as an essential part of yourself and in exchange that anxiety will be converted into energy, unstable but manageable. Stop with the self-flagellating and become yourself, with scars and tics.”

In other words, everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkeys.

Letting Go

Free chair
Free chair

“How do you let go of attachment to things? Don’t even try. It’s impossible. Attachment to things drops away by itself when you no longer seek to find yourself in them.” Eckhart Tolle

Note: this is mostly true for living room chairs but also applies to couches, especially if you have pets.