Friday, September 10, 2010

Life is "Dukka"

I'm covering Buddhism in my World Religions course. Today, we started on the Four Noble Truths, the first of which is "life is dukka." Dukka is a Sanskrit word often translated as "suffering," but also means "out of joint" and "dislocated."

What The Buddha discovered after seeking the truth for six years was this: life doesn't meet our expectations and when it doesn't, pain and disappointment are the results.

Others have discovered this truth for themselves. Henry David Thoreau expressed it by observing that most people lead lives of "quiet desperation." M. Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Traveled, "Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-- once we truly understand and accept it-- then life is no longer difficult."

Buddhism and other major religions offer spiritual paths to help us deal with the difficulty, suffering and dislocation of life. Because this is a spiritual problem, it requires a spiritual solution. However, the first step on these spiritual paths is virtually the same: to admit the truth. Once you admit it, then you can begin to deal with it.

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