BUDDHISM, DUKKHA, and REPETITIONS
The First Truth - What is Dukkha?"The Right Understanding of Dukkha" is central to Buddhism. Dukkha is usually understood as 'suffering'.
Originally Dukkha described when a wheel was problematic and not running smoothly.
The ancient wooden spoked wheel is an excellent symbol for how life goes round and round, but 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 or components, which describe how we experience the world. They define 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.
The Second Truth – The Origin of DukkhaWhat is the reason that our sensory wheels are problematic?
Craving, Clinging, and Attachment
The traditional view is that the sensory apparatus is influenced by craving: "The origin of dukkha is the Craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth" (refs).
Craving is an extreme form of wanting. Craving limits the universal relevance of the Noble Truths.
In addition the texts almost always refer to the Five Aggregates as "the Five Aggregates of clinging". 'Clinging' is an extreme form of attachment.
Again, the extreme wording severely limits the interpretation of the Five Aggregates and their potential as a universal theory.
The common view is that pleasure and wanting lead to attachment. And due to impermanence and change, any hope of fulfilment or security through attachments is illusory.
Pleasure and Wanting Lead to Repetition
The point is that the everyday sense of: "that craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth" (refs), is: "that wanting which leads to fresh repetition".
Attachment, clinging, and craving, are all the results of a long process, they are consequences of a sequence of repetitions. They all started with one repetition.
Freedom from karma, i.e. freedom from habitual or pre-set repetitions, is the aim of Buddhism.
And Buddha's teaching addresses this: The Origin of Dukkha – the start, the first step (and all the other steps in the development) – is that pleasure, and also wanting, lead to repetitions.
If something is pleasurable, we want to repeat it. When we want something, the idea repeats in our memories. Even the smallest pleasure we have, will lead to some form of repetition of the idea, and often an actual 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.
It may well be that extreme forms of wanting like craving, lead to extreme forms of repetition like rebirth; but it is obvious that even the smallest want we have, will lead to some form of repetition, either mental or actual – and this is the prime, basic and universal truth.
The origin of Dukkha is that pleasure, and also wanting, lead to repetitions.
The First and Second Truth speak of the origin of Dukkha.
The Third and Fourth Truth, and also The Middle Way, show the way to the elimination of Dukkha.
Please continue with The Middle Way
SECTION FOR SCHOLARS
The texts – which were subject to multiple translations and written more than 400 years after Buddha spoke – have been exaggerated to make Buddha's message more striking and awesome and dramatic, but with that they have diminished its universal application. Traditional Buddhists who wish to examine this, are invited to read Dukkha in Detail.
Of special note is the following translation. The Pali word for rebirth can obviously also be translated as "again and again". (Bold print is mine).
Reference: The Second Truth - from English Translations, Ref 1: Pali Tipitaka
Exposition of the Truth of the Arising of Suffering
"And what, monks, is the Noble Truth of the Arising of Suffering?
It is this craving that occurs again and again and is bound up with pleasure and lust and finds delight now here, now there. That is, the craving for sensual pleasures, the craving for repeated rebirth and the craving for annihilation."
Ref. Nyanaponika Thera, "The Heart of Buddhist Meditation" (page 142) Rider & Co. London (1962).
It is that craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth, and, bound up with pleasure and lust, finds ever fresh delight, now here, now there to wit. the Sensual Craving, the Craving for (Eternal) Existence and the Craving for Non-Existence.
References from Other Full English Translations – see Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Translations for all links.
The craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensuality, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.
Vipassana Research Institute
It is this craving that occurs again and again and is bound up with pleasure and lust and finds delight now here, now there. That is, the craving for sensual pleasures, the craving for repeated rebirth and the craving for annihilation.
Burma Piṭaka Association
The origin of dukkha is the Craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth, and, accompanied by pleasure and passion, finds great delight in this or that existence, namely, Craving for pleasures of the senses, Craving for better existence, and Craving for non-existence.
 Kāma-taṇhā is hankering after and becoming attached to pleasures of the senses. Bhava- taṇhā is hankering after and becoming attached to continued existence, either the current sensual existence or a better and higher existence in the rūpa (fine material) or arūpa (non-material) brahmā realms, or becoming attached to the rūpa and arūpa jhānas. Vibhava- taṇhā is hankering after and becoming attached to the idea that there is no kamma for rebirth, and hence no future existence.
U Jotika & U Dhamminda
It is that craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth; and which together with delight and clinging, (accepts, enjoys, and) finds great delight in this or that (existence or sense pleasure that happens to arise). Namely, craving for sense pleasures (kamatanha), craving for (better) existences (bhavatanha), and craving for non-existence (vibhavatanha). note97
note97. The craving for pleasurable sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile objects is kamatanha. The craving to be born in any sensual; rupa or arupa worlds, and the attachment to rupa or arupa jhanas, and the craving associated with the belief in an eternal and indestructible Self or Soul are all included in the term bhavatanha. The craving that associated with the wrong view that at death one is annihilated and hence that there is no rebirth or results of good or bad actions is vibhavatanha.
Please continue with The Middle Way