adjective noun

  1. (adj. unpleasant, painful, causing misery (opp. sukha pleasant Vin.i.34; Dhp.117. Lit. of vedanā (sensation) MN.i.59 (˚ṃ vedanaṃ vediyamāna, see also below iii.1 e) AN.ii.116 = MN.i.10 (sarīrikāhi vedanāhi dukkhāhi). Fig. (fraught with pain, entailing sorrow or trouble) of kāmā DN.i.36 (= paṭipīḷan-aṭṭhena DN-a.i.121); Dhp.186 (= bahudukkha Dhp-a.iii.240); of jāti MN.i.185 (cp ariyasacca, below B I.); in combination dukkhā paṭipadā dandhābhiññā DN.iii.106; Dhs.176; Ne.7, Ne.112 sq., cp AN.ii.149 sq. ekanta˚; very painful, giving much pain SN.ii.173 SN.iii.69
  2. (nt.; but pl. also dukkhā, e.g. SN.i.23; Snp.728; Dhp.202, Dhp.203, Dhp.221. Spelling dukha (after sukha) at Dhp.83, Dhp.203). There is no word in English covering the same ground as Dukkha does in Pali. Our modern words are too specialised, too limited, and usually too strong. Sukha & dukkha are ease and dis-ease (but we use disease in another sense); or wealth and ilth from well & ill (but we have now lost ilth); or wellbeing and ill-ness (but illness means something else in English). We are forced, therefore, in translation to use half synonyms, no one of which is exact. Dukkha is equally mental & physical. Pain is too predominantly physical, sorrow too exclusively mental, but in some connections they have to be used in default of any more exact rendering. Discomfort, suffering, ill, and trouble can occasionally be used in certain connections Misery, distress, agony, affliction and woe are never right. They are all much too strong & are only mental (see Mrs. Rh. D.; Bud. Psy. 83–⁠86, quoting Ledi Sadaw).

I. Main Points in the Use of the Word

The recognition of the fact of Dukkha stands out as essential in early Buddhism. In the very first discourse the four socalled Truths or Facts (see saccāni) deal chiefly with dukkha. The first of the four gives certain universally recognised cases of it, & then sums them up in short. The five groups (of physical & mental qualities which make an individual) are accompanied by ill so far as those groups are fraught with āsavas and grasping. (Pañc’ upādānakkhandhā pi dukkhā; cp SN.iii.47). The second Sacca gives the cause of this dukkha (see Taṇhā). The third enjoins the removal of this taṇhā. And the fourth shows the way, or method, of doing so (see Magga). These ariyasaccāni are found in two places in the older books Vin.i.10 = SN.v.421 (with addition of soka-parideva… etc. see below in some MSS). Comments on this passage, or part of it, occur SN.iii.158, SN.iii.159; with expln of each term (+ soka) DN.i.189; DN.iii.136, DN.iii.277; MN.i.185; AN.i.107; Snp.p.140; Cnd. under sankhārā; Iti.17 (with dukkhassa atikkama for nirodha), Iti.104, Iti.105; Pts.i.37; Pts.ii.204, Pts.ii.147 Pp.15, Pp.68; Vb.328; Ne.72, Ne.73. It is referred to as dukkha, samudaya, nirodha, magga at Vin.i.16, Vin.i.18, Vin.i.19; DN.iii.227; Cnd.304#iib; as āsavānaṃ khaya-ñāṇa at DN.i.83; Vin.iii.5; as sacca No. 1 + paṭiccasamuppāda at AN.i.176 sq. (+ soka˚); in a slightly diff. version of No. 1 (leaving out appiyehi & piyehi, having soka instead) at DN.ii.305; and in the formula catunnaṃ ariyasaccānaṃ ananubodhā etc. at DN.ii.90 = Vin.i.230.

II. Characterisation in Detail

  1. A further specification of the 3rd of the Noble Truths is given in the Paṭicca-samuppāda (q.v.), which analyses the links & stages of the causal chain in their interdependence as building up (anabolic = samudaya) &, after their recognition as causes, breaking down (katabolic = nirodha the dukkha-synthesis, & thus constitutes the Metabolism of kamma; discussed e.g. at Vin.1; DN.ii.32 sq = SN.ii.2 sq.; SN.ii.17, SN.ii.20, SN.ii.65 = Cnd.680#i.c; SN.iii.14; MN.i.266 sq.; MN.ii.38; AN.i.177; mentioned e.g. at AN.i.147; MN.i.192 sq., MN.i.460; Iti.89 (= dukkhassa antakiriyā).
  2. Dukkha as one of the 3 qualifications of the sankhārā (q.v.), viz. anicca, d., anattā, evanescence, ill, nonsoul: SN.i.188; SN.ii.53 (yad aniccaṃ taṃ dukkhaṃ); SN.iii.112 (id.), SN.iii.67, SN.iii.180, SN.iii.222; SN.iv.28, SN.iv.48, SN.iv.129 sq.; SN.iv.131 sq
    ■ rūpe anicc’ ânupassī (etc. with dukkh’ & anatt’) SN.iii.41 anicca-saññā, dukkha˚ etc. DN.iii.243; AN.iii.334, cp.iv.52 sq
    ■ sabbe sankhārā aniccā etc. Nd ii.under sankhārā.
  3. Specification of Dukkha. The Niddesa gives a characteristic description of all that comes under the term dukkha. It employs one stereotyped explanation (therefore old & founded on scholastic authority) (Cnd.304i.), & one expln (304iii.) peculiar to itself & only applied to Snp.36. The latter defines illustrates dukkha exclusively as suffering & torment incurred by a person as punishment, inflicted on him either by the king or (after death) by the guardians of purgatory (niraya-pālā; see detail under niraya, & cp below III. 2 b
    ■ The first expln (304i.) is similar in kind to the definition of d. as long afterwards given in the Sānkhya system (see Sānkhya-kārikā-bhāṣya of Gauḍapāda to stanza 1) & classifies the various kinds of dukkha in the foll. groups:
    1. all suffering caused by the fact of being born, & being through one’s kamma tied to the consequent states of transmigration; to this is loosely attached the 3 fold division of d. as dukkha˚, sankhāra˚, vipariṇāma˚ (see below III.1 c)-
    2. illnesses & all bodily states of suffering (cp ādhyātmikaṃ dukkhaṃ of Sānkhya k.)
    3. pain (bodily) discomfort through outward circumstances, as extreme climates, want of food, gnat-bites etc. (cp ādhibhautikaṃ & ādhidaivikaṃ d. of Sk.)
    4. (Mental distress & painful states caused by the death of one’s beloved or other misfortunes to friends or personal belongings (cp. domanassa)
      ■ This list is concluded by a scholastic characterisation of these var. states as conditioned by kamma, implicitly due to the afflicted person not having found his “refuge,” i.e. salvation from these states in the 8 fold Path (see above B I.).

III. General Application

& various views regarding dukkha.

  1. As simple sensation (: pain) & related to other terms:

    1. principally a vedanā, sensation, in particular belonging to the body (kāyika), or physical pain (opp. cetasika dukkha mental ill: see domanassa) Thus defined as kāyikaṃ d. at DN.ii.306 (cp. the distinction between śarīraṃ & mānasaṃ dukkhaṃ in Sānkhya philosophy) MN.i.302; SN.v.209 (in def. of dukkhindriya); AN.ii.143 (sarīrikā vedanā dukkhā); Ne.12 (duvidhaṃ d.: kāyikaṃ = dukkhaṃ; cetasikaṃ domanassaṃ); Vism.165 (twofold), Vism.496 (dukkhā aññaṃ na bādhakaṃ), Vism.499 (seven divisions), Vism.503 (kāyika) Snp-a.119 (sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā Snp.67 = kāyikaṃ sātāsātaṃ). Bdhgh. usually paraphrases d. with vaṭṭadukkha e.g. at Snp-a.44, Snp-a.212, Snp-a.377, Snp-a.505
    2. Thus to be understood as physical pain in combination dukkha domanassa “pain & grief,” where d. can also be taken as the gen. term & dom˚ as specification, e.g. in cetasikaṃ dukkhaṃ domanassaṃ paṭisaṃvedeti AN.i.157, AN.i.216 AN.iv.406; SN.ii.69; rāgajan d ˚ṃ dom ˚ṃ paṭisaṃvedeti AN.ii.149; kāmûpasaṃhitaṃ d ˚ṃ dom ˚ṃ AN.iii.207; d ˚ṃ dom ˚ṃ paṭisaṃvediyati SN.iv.343. Also as cpd. dukkhadomanassānaṃ atthangamāya AN.iii.326, & freq. in formula soka-parideva-d˚-domanass-upāyāsā (grief sorrow, afflictions of pain & misery, i.e. all kinds of misery) DN.i.36 (arising fr. kāmā); MN.ii.64; AN.v.216 sq. Iti.89 etc. (see above B I. 4). Cp. also the combination dukkhī dummano “miserable and dejected” SN.ii.282-
    3. dukkha as “feeling of pain” forms one of the three dukkhatā or painful states, viz. d
      ■ dukkhatā (painful sensation caused by bodily pain), sankhāra id. having its origin in the sankhārā, vipariṇāma˚, being caused by change SN.iv.259; SN.v.56; DN.iii.216; Ne.12
    4. Closely related in meaning is ahita “that which is not good or profitable,” usually opposed to sukha hita. It is freq. in the ster. expression “hoti dīgharattaṃ ahitāya dukkhāya” for a long time it is a source of discomfort & pain AN.i.194 sq.; MN.i.332; DN.iii.157 Pp.33. Also in phrases anatthāya ahitāya dukkhāya DN.iii.246 & akusalaṃ… ahitāya dukkhāya saṃvattati AN.i.58
    5. Under vedanā as sensation are grouped the 3: sukhaṃ (or sukhā ved.) pleasure (pleasant sensation), dukkhaṃ pain (painful sens.), adukkham-asukhaṃ indifference (indifferent sens.), the last of which is the ideal state of the emotional habitus to be gained by the Arahant (cp. upekhā & nibbidā) Their rôle is clearly indicated in the 4th jhāna: sukhassa pahānā dukkhassa pahānā pubbe va somanassadomanassānaṃ atthangamā adukkham-asukhaṃ upekhā parisuddhiṃ catutthaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati (see jhāna)
      ■ As contents of vedanā: sukhaṃ vediyati dukkhaṃ v. adukkham-asukhaṃ v. tasmā vedanā ti SN.iii.86, SN.iii.87; cp. SN.ii.82 (vedayati). tisso vedanā sukha, d˚, adukkham-asukhā˚ DN.iii.275; SN.ii.53 SN.iv.114 sq., SN.iv.207, SN.iv.223 sq., cp. MN.i.396; AN.i.173; AN.iv.442; Iti.46, Iti.47. yaṃ kiñc’ āyaṃ purisa-puggalo paṭisaṃvedeti sukhaṃ vā d ˚ṃ vā a ˚ṃ vā sabban taṃ pubbe katahetū ti = one’s whole life-experience is caused by one’s former kamma AN.i.173 = MN.ii.217
      ■ The combination (as complementary pair) of sukha + dukkha is very freq for expressing the varying fortunes of life & personal experience as pleasure & pain, e.g. n’ âlam aññamaññassa sukhāya vā dukkhāya vā sukhadukkhāya vā DN.i.56 = SN.iii.211. Thus under the 8 “fortunes of the world” (loka dhammā) with lābha (& a˚), yasa (a˚) pasaṃsā (nindā), sukha (dukkha) at DN.iii.260; Cnd.55 Regarded as a thing to be avoided in life: puriso jīvitukāmo… sukhakāmo dukkha-paṭikkūlo SN.iv.172 SN.iv.188
      ■ In similar contexts: DN.i.81 ≈ DN.iii.51, DN.i.109, DN.i.187; SN.ii.22, SN.ii.39; SN.iv.123 sq.; AN.ii.158 etc. (cp. sukha).
  2. As complex state (suffering) & its valuation in the light of the Doctrine:

    1. any worldly sensation pleasure & experience may be a source of discomfort (see above, I.; cp. esp. kāma & bhava) Ps; i.11 sq. (specified as jāti etc.); dukkhaṃ = mahabbhayaṃ SN.i.37; bhārādānaṃ dukkhaṃ loke bhāra-nikkhepanaṃ sukhaṃ (pain is the great weight) SN.iii.26; kāmānaṃ adhivacanaṃ AN.iii.310; AN.iv.289; cp. AN.iii.410 sq. (with kāmā, vedanā saññā, āsavā, kamma, dukkhaṃ)
    2. ekanta˚; (extreme pain) refers to the suffering of sinful beings in Niraya, & it is open to conjecture whether this is not the first & orig. meaning of dukkha; e.g. MN.i.74; AN.ii.231 (vedanaṃ vediyati ekanta-d˚ṃ seyyathā pi sattā nerayikā); see ekanta. In the same sense:… upenti Roruvaṃ ghoraṃ cirarattaṃ dukkhaṃ anubhavanti SN.i.30; niraya-dukkha Snp.531; pecca d˚ṃ nigacchati Snp.278, Snp.742; anubhonti d˚ṃ kaṭuka-pphalāni Pv.i.11#10 (= āpāyikaṃ d˚ṃ Pv-a.60); Pv-a.67; mahādukkhaṃ anubhavati Pv-a.43, Pv-a.68, Pv-a.107 etc. atidukkhaṃ Pv-a.65; dukkhato pete mocetvā Pv-a.8
    3. to suffer pain, to experience unpleasantness etc. is expressed in foll. terms: dukkhaṃ anubhavati (only w ref. to Niraya, see b); anveti Dhp.1 (= kāyikaṃ cetasikaṃ vipāka-dukkhaṃ anugacchati Dhp-a.i.24), upeti Snp.728 carati SN.i.210; nigacchati MN.i.337; Snp.278, Snp.742; paṭisaṃvedeti MN.i.313 (see above); passati SN.i.132 (jāto dukkhāni passati: whoever is born experiences woe) vaḍḍheti SN.ii.109; viharati AN.i.202; AN.ii.95; AN.iii.3; SN.iv.78 (passaddhiyā asati d˚ṃ v. dukkhino cittaṃ na samādhiyati); vedayati, vediyati, vedeti etc. see above III.1 e; sayati AN.i.137
    4. More specific reference to the cause of suffering & its removal by means of enlightenment:
      1. Origin (see also above I. & II. 1): dukkhe loko patiṭṭhito SN.i.40; yaṃ kiñci dukkhaṃ sambhoti sabbaṃ sankhāra-paccayā Snp.731; ye dukkhaṃ vaḍḍhenti te na parimuccanti jātiyā etc. SN.ii.109; d˚ṃ ettha bhiyyo Snp.61, Snp.584; yo paṭhavī-dhātuṃ abhinandati dukkhaṃ so abhin˚ SN.i.174; taṇhā d ˚ssa samudayo etc. Ne.23 sq.; as result of sakkāyadiṭṭhi SN.iv.147, of chanda SN.i.22 of upadhi SN.ii.109, cp. upadhīnidānā pabhavanti dukkhā Snp.728; d˚ṃ eva hi sambhoti d˚ṃ tiṭṭhati veti ca SN.i.135
      2. Salvation from Suffering (see above I.): kathaṃ dukkhā pamuccati Snp.170; dukkhā pamuccati SN.i.14; SN.iii.41, SN.iii.150; SN.iv.205 SN.v.451; na hi putto pati vā pi piyo d ˚ā pamocaye yathā saddhamma-savanaṃ dukkhā moceti pāṇinaṃ SN.i.210 na appatvā lokantaṃ dukkhā atthi pamocanaṃ AN.ii.49 Kammakkhayā… sabbaṃ d˚ṃ nijjiṇṇaṃ bhavissati MN.ii.217, cp. MN.i.93. kāme pahāya… d˚ṃ na sevetha anatthasaṃhitaṃ SN.i.12 = SN.i.31; rūpaṃ (etc.) abhijānaṃ bhabbo d-˚kkhayāya SN.iii.27; SN.iv.89; d˚ṃ pariññāya sakhettavatthuṃ Tathāgato arahati pūraḷāsaṃ Snp.473 pajahati d˚ṃ Snp.789, Snp.1056. dukkhassa samudayo ca atthangamo ca SN.ii.72; SN.iii.228 sq.; SN.iv.86, SN.iv.327
        ■ dukkhass’ antakaro hoti MN.i.48; AN.iii.400 sq.; Iti.18 antakarā bhavāmase Snp.32; antaṃ karissanti Satthu sāsana-kārino AN.ii.26; d ˚parikkhīṇaṃ SN.ii.133; akiñcanaṃ nânupatanti dukkhā SN.i.23; sankhārānaṃ nirodhena n’ atthi d˚assa sambhavo Snp.731
        ■ muniṃ d˚assa pārayuṃ SN.i.195 = Cnd.136#v; antagū ‘si pāragū d˚assa Snp.539
        ■ sang’ ātiko maccujaho nirūpadhi pahāya d˚ṃ apunabbhavāya SN.iv.158; ucchinnaṃ mūlaṃ d˚assa, n’ atthi dāni punabbhavo Vin.i.231; DN.ii.91.
  • -ādhivāha bringing or entailing pain SN.iv.70;
  • -anubhavana suffering pain or undergoing punishment (in Niraya) Ja.iv.3;
  • -antagū one who has conquered suffering Snp.401;
  • -ābhikiṇṇa beset with pain, full of distress Iti.89;
  • -āsahanatā non-endurance of ills Vism.325
  • -indriya the faculty of experiencing pain, painful sensation SN.v.209, SN.v.211; Dhs.556, Dhs.560; Vb.15, Vb.54, Vb.71
  • -udraya causing or yielding pain, resulting in ill, yielding distress MN.i.415 sq.; AN.i.97; AN.iv.43 (+ dukkhavipāka); AN.v.117 (dukh˚), AN.v.243; Ja.iv.398; of kamma Pts.i.80; Pts.ii.79; Pv.i.11#10 (so read for dukkhandriya which is also found at Pv-a.60); Dhp-a.ii.40 (˚uddaya)
  • -ūpadhāna causing pain Dhp.291;
  • -ūpasama the allayment of pain or alleviation of suffering, only in phrase (aṭṭhangiko maggo) d-ûpasama-gāmino SN.iii.86; Iti.106; Snp.724 = Dhp.191;
  • -(m)esin wishing ill, malevolent Ja.iv.26;
  • -otiṇṇa fallen into misery SN.iii.93; MN.i.460 MN.ii.10;
  • -kāraṇa labour or trials to be undergone as punishment Dhp-a.iii.70 (see Dhp.138, Dhp.139 & cp. dasa1 B.1 b)
  • -khandha the aggregate of suffering, all that is called pain or affliction (see above B II. 1) SN.ii.134; SN.iii.93; MN.i.192 sq.; MN.i.200 sq.; etc.;
  • -khaya the destruction of pain, the extinction of ill MN.i.93; MN.ii.217 (kammakkhayā d-kkhayo); SN.iii.27; Snp.732. Freq. in phrase (nīyāti or hoti) sammā-d-kkhayāya “leads to the complete extinction of ill,” with ref. to the Buddha’s teaching or the higher wisdom, e.g. of brahmacariyā SN.ii.24; of paññā DN.iii.268; AN.iii.152 sq.; of ariyā diṭṭhi DN.iii.264 = AN.iii.132; of sikkhā AN.ii.243; of dhamma MN.i.72;
  • -dhamma the principle of pain, a painful object, any kind of suffering (cp. ˚khandha DN.iii.88; SN.iv.188 (˚ānaṃ samudayañ ca atthagamañ ca yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti); Iti.38 (nirodha ˚anaṃ);
  • -nidāna a source of pain MN.ii.223; Dhs.1059, Dhs.1136;
  • -nirodha the destruction of pain, the extinction of suffering (see above B II. 1) MN.i.191; MN.ii.10; AN.iii.410, AN.iii.416; etc.
  • -paṭikkūla averse to pain, avoiding unpleasantness, in combination sukhakāmo d-p. SN.iv.172 (spelt ˚kulo), SN.iv.188; MN.i.341;
  • -patta being in pain Ja.vi.336;
  • -pareta afflicted by pain or misery SN.iii.93; Iti.89 = AN.i.147;
  • -bhummi the soil of distress Dhs.985;
  • -vāca hurtful speech Pv.i.3#2 (should probably be read duṭṭha˚);
  • -vipāka (adj. having pain as its fruit, creating misery SN.ii.128; DN.iii.57, DN.iii.229; AN.ii.172 (kamma); Pts.ii.79 (id.);
  • -vepakka = ˚vipāka Snp.537 (kamma);
  • -saññā the consciousness of pain Ne.27;
  • -samudaya the rise or origin of pain or suffering (opp. ˚nirodha; see above B II. 1) SN.iv.37; MN.i.191; MN.ii.10; MN.iii.267; Vb.107 (taṇhā ca avasesā ca kilesā: ayaṃ vuccati d-s.);
  • -samphassa contact with pain MN.i.507; Dhs.648; f. abstr. -tā Pp.33;
  • -seyya an uncomfortable couch Dhp-a.iv.8.

Sk. duḥkha fr. duḥ-ka, an adj. formation fr. prefix duḥ (see du). According to others an analogy formation after sukha, q.v.; Bdhgh (at Vism.494) explains dukkha as du + kha, where du = du1 and kha = ākāsa. See also def. at Vism.461.