Buddhism, Wheels and Repetitions
Appendix D:

(The First Noble Truth)

In Buddha's time, the word Dukkha was used to describe when a wheel was not turning smoothly on its axle.

ancient wooden spoked wheel The new invention of continuous rotary motion – the potter's wheel and the spoked wooden cartwheel – dates from around 2,000 B.C. By Buddha's time in 500 B.C., the spoked cartwheel had led to a cultural revolution.

The wheel was the epitome of repetition and self-perpetuating motion, with the possibility of momentum. It enabled a new form of movement, motion, mobility, and transport of goods.

Imagine the fascination people felt when they first saw this phenomenon, similar to natural peoples these days when they first see an aeroplane. Wheels were the future. Wheels meant status. Everyone wanted wheels.

But ancient wooden wheels often squeaked, snagged, grinded and wobbled, and the hub needed constant maintenance in order to run smoothly. Dukkha described when the turning of a wheel was problematic.

Modern suggestions for the interpretation of Dukkha are mostly extreme states where the wheels are stuck in the mud, or grinding with friction : suffering, anxiety, distress, unsatisfactory, frustration, stress (ref).

There is another symbolism to the old-fashioned cartwheel which would have been obvious to anyone living in those days : the hard wheels on the soft dirt roads made tracks, habitual ruts, karmic ruts.

But for Buddha, this was not a question of semantics and 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. 

The way we sense life, our sensory apparatus is Dukkha, it's not running smoothly.

In Buddhism, where thoughts are considered as manifest forms or 'mind-objects', the Aggregates also apply to how the mind senses its own thoughts. In other words, the mind sensing its thoughts, functions in the same way as the eye sees a sight, or the ear hears a sound.

So, to be exact, the First Truth tells us: Our sensory apparatus – the six senses of touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, and thought – is problematic, it's not running smoothly.

The Five Aggregates are very simple but the words for such phenomenon didn't exist in Buddha's times, this is explored in The Five Aggregates.

Please continue with The Second Noble Truth – The Origin of Dukkha

The above definition of the First Noble Truth fits exactly with the Second and Third Truths, which give a detailed examination of the Aggregates and the six senses.

A Discussion of The First Truth with it's usual meaning of worldly suffering, old-age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and distress, comes straight after The Transmission of the Written Teachings.

The Modern Buddhist Dharmachakra takes the development of the meaning of Dukkha to its logical conclusion – completely obscuring the original idea.

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukkha (2019, 2020, 2021)

Please continue with Transmission of the Written Teachings

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