The First Noble Truth: The Universality of Dukha
Now the word dukha has no literal translation. Some translate it as suffering, stress, or unsatisfactoriness. None really capture the true essence of the word but add them all up and you have a good idea. The Buddha said all beings experience dukha in fact that all things in life are concealed forms of dukha. “To be united with the unpleasant, and separated from the pleasant” is the best quote I can find to capture the meaning. All beings know it no matter their station in life, as good as you feel things aren’t ever really perfect. And they can’t be, even if you get what you want you’re still faced with protecting or maintaining it. This is just a fact of life. No matter how fortunate you are there is always a sense of lacking, of wishing for just that little bit more. And even if you don’t feel a sense of lack at some point you will die only to give up all you have acquired.
Because of this many people say “The Buddha was such a pessimist”. Not so in my opinion he was a teacher with a mission. For those of us with kids if they are playing and run near the road you usually yell because the fear of danger is very real to you as you know the dangers involved. So too for the Buddha, he was so tired of seeing people wondering around through life from pain to pain, leaving suffering for suffering, only to end in certain death. He wanted us to know that this subtle sense of lack was mixed up in everything it means to “be”. None of this means joy can’t be had or found in life. He just wanted to illustrate that even at it’s absolute best it was only temporary. This principle can help with building compassion you know what it’s like to hurt and lack, so you have already walked a mile in those shoes. Compassion which in my opinion was the hidden point between the lines can help curb your own suffering. Next we will cover the 2nd Noble Truth.