Short Version
The Long Version gives details, references, and develops the connection with orthodox Buddhism.

In Buddha's time, the new invention of the spoked wooden cart wheel, was causing a cultural revolution. Buddha saw the connections: desire is self-perpetuating, and once the wheels of desire start turning, then they turn with their own karmic momentum.

Here is a dividing line.

The First Truth - What is Dukkha?

"The Right Understanding of Dukkha" is central to Buddhism. Dukkha is usually understood as 'suffering'.
ancient wooden spoked wheel

Originally Dukkha described when a wheel was problematic and not running smoothly.

The ancient wooden spoked wheel was an excellent symbol for how life wobbles, and sometimes starts grinding, or gets twisted and blocked.

Sometimes there were extreme degrees of Dukkha, but mostly it was a monotonous squeaking, or rhythmic wobble. The hub of the wheel needed constant maintenance in order to get it to run smoothly, to make it Sukkha.

But for Buddha, this was not a question of the literal meaning of the word Dukkha. In those days everyone knew what Dukkha meant. Buddha's question was what is the problem with life's wheel? What is not running smoothly?

In many texts, it is written that the Five Aggregates are Dukkha. The Aggregates are five umbrella terms which explain how we experience the world. They describe the process: manifest form, sensation, perception, concepts and consciousness. The Aggregates apply to all of our senses. They describe the way we sense life.

The process: manifest form, sensation, perception, concepts and consciousness is Dukkha.

The First Truth tells us: Our sensory apparatus is problematic .

Here is a dividing line.

The Second Truth - The Cause of Dukkha

What is the reason that our sensory wheels are problematic? Our sensory apparatus is influenced by pleasure. And pleasure leads to wanting.

If something is pleasurable we want it, and then we want to repeat it. Even the smallest pleasure we have, will lead to some form of repetition of the idea, and often an actual repetition.

The everyday sense of: "that craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth"; is "that wanting which leads to fresh repetition".

Repetitions involve us in a timeline, they are not conducive to being now. And, once the repetitions start, once the wheels start turning; then they turn with their own karmic momentum.

Attachment, clinging, and craving – cycles, routines, habits, and karma – and also greed and closed mindedness – are all possible consequences of the repetitions.

Suffering is an extreme state of monotonous repetition where the wheels are stuck in the mud, or grinding with friction.

And Buddha's teaching adresses the origin of the suffering – all the small steps in the development – namely because pleasure and wanting lead to repetition.

The Third and Fourth Truth, and also The Middle Way, show the way to the allieviation of suffering.

Please continue with The Connections Between The Middle Way and The Third Truth

Back to Chapter Four : Buddhism and Wheels