DUKKHA - First Noble Truth, Sorrow, Suffering

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Dukkha is explaining sorrow, sadness, suffering and consists of incompleteness, instability, meaninglessness as well.

The Lord Buddha said that life consisted of sorrow, sadness and suffering. Human nature is not perfect and stable. Our surroundings are not stable too. We suffer physically from pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, ageing, and death during our life time. We have psychological suffering such as sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression too. Our life is subject to impermanence. Everything originated due to some reason in this universe is impermanent. This means we are never able to keep permanently anything even our lives. We are aging. We get ill. We are becoming disfigured due to aging. We will die some day. But, we cannot stop them.

There are three components we should know regarding life and enjoyment of life.

  1. Strong desire.
  2. Bad results due to strong desire.
  3. Relieving from the desire.


For example, when you see an attractive, beautiful person, you will like him or her. You like to look at him or her again and again. Then, you feel happiness. This is desire.

But, that particular person and his or her beauty are not stable. Your happiness is not stable too.

When you can't see the particular person, you will feel sadness; you will suffer, become impatient. Sometimes you will do silly things. These are bad results due to strong desire.

If there is no desire or emotional bond for anything, you will not feel sadness. You will not suffer. Then, you will be independent. This is the relief from desire.


There are three kinds of suffering according to the Lord Buddha's vision.


  • Dukkha dukkha (ordinary sorrow, suffering).
  • Viparinama dukkha (grief caused by change).
  • Sankhara dukkha (sorrow, suffering due to six internal sense media of the body).


Dukkha dukkha (ordinary sorrow, suffering)

This explains suffering due to birth, aging, getting sick, death, association with the not beloved, separation from the loved, not getting what is wanted, all physical and mental suffering.

We suffer from everything mentioned above due to birth. If there is no birth, there will not be suffering. We don't like aging, getting sick, and death. But, we cannot change them. They have come with us since our birth. We are suffering from them during our whole life. We feel sad, sorrow due to these factors.


Viparinama dukkha (grief caused by change)

Everything is impermanent. From moment to moment everything is changing continuously. We cannot stop changing anything in this universe. Once we are happy, we feel comfort. Next, we feel sad, fear, discomfort. Then, we don't like to feel them. But, we cannot stop those feelings. So, we suffer. Even our feelings are changing and impermanent.


Sankhara dukkha (sorrow, suffering due to six internal sense media of the body)

This is the most important component in the first noble truth. At first we should consider the concepts of "the animal being", "person" and "I".

According to the Buddhism, concepts of "the animal being", "person", "I" consist of changeable physical and mental energies. These can be divided into five parts (the five clinging aggregates/Panchaskandha). All human beings including us consist of these five clinging aggregates.

  1. Bodily form (Rupa).
  2. Faculty of perception (Vedana).
  3. Sense - Identification of physical or mental stimuli (Sangna).
  4. Mental formations (Sankhara).
  5. Knowledge (Vinknana).

These five consist of sorrow, suffering, incompleteness and instability. We are suffering due to these five components.


1.  Bodily form (Rupa)

This consists of four basic elements and five sense organs which are originated from four basic elements. Those four elements are,

  • Earth, element of solid, soft nature (Patavi)
  • Element of water, liquid (Apo)
  • Element of heat (Thejo)
  • Element of gas (Wayo)

(We can assume that the Lord Buddha intended solid, liquid, gas, and energy by using the name "four basic elements".)

The five sense organs which are originated from four basic elements are eye, ear, nose, tongue, and the body.

This section consists of every external masses, sensations (vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), objectives, ideas, and feelings too.


2.  Aggregate of sensations (Vedana)

When our sensory organs and mind meet the external world, they get perceptions. Those perceptions may bring happiness or sadness to us.

There are six perceptions.

  • Vision due to perception of light.
  • Hearing due to perception of sounds.
  • Perception of smell.
  • Perception of taste.
  • Perception of touch, pressure, pain, heat.
  • Perception of feelings, ideas.



It is important to know about the concept of "MIND". According to Buddhism, it is the sixth organ in the body. Mind is an organ like eye, ear, etc. Mind can be controlled and developed like other organs. Lord Buddha said " we can get good results by protecting, controlling, developing these six organs".

We receive sensations through our sensory organs. A part of a person contains these sensations such as light, sound, smell, taste, touch as well because; we cannot live without sensations from outside and inside the body. A person does not consist of solid organs only. Ideas, feelings and objectives also are parts of a person. But, they can't be received by ordinary sensory organs we know. These are received and identified by mind.

We should not forget that ideas, feelings, objectives, are originated in mind due to somatic (body) experiences.


3.   Sense - Aggregate of perceptions (Sangna)

There are six varieties of senses by six sensory organs. Because of the connection between the external or internal world and the sensory organs, sense and their identification are originated. Physical and mental objectives are identified after senses.


4.   Aggregate of mental formations (Sankhara)

Lord Buddha said that intention caused the act. Due to intentions, we do various acts by our body, by words, and by mind. Intention is originated from the mind. It is an act of mind. Intentions lead us to do good acts or bad acts. Sense is not a voluntary act. Only voluntary acts cause bad or good outcome in our lives.


5.   Aggregate of consciousness (Vinknana)

This is originated due to six sensory organs and six sensations. We cannot recognize the stimulus just by the Aggregate of consciousness because, this identifies only there is a stimulus.

For example, we don't recognize every stimulus in our environment. Our body feels every stimulus but, recognizes only specific ones. Think a little, when you are specifically looking at a person or object, you can't identify surroundings well although your eyes receive light from every surrounding objective.

Aggregate of consciousness is originated due to a cause. It is not originated without a cause. Causes are bodily form, aggregate of sensations, aggregate of perceptions, and aggregate of mental formations.

Concepts of "The animal being ", "person "and "I" are used for these five clinging aggregates by us. These are instable, changeable moment to moment. So, the five clinging aggregates are sorrow, suffering, incomplete, unstable, and meaningless.

A river has no a point at which it stops. It flows continuously. It changes. Therefore, human life is like a flowing river.

When, the five clinging aggregates work together, we think the concept of "I".

Human life consists of sorrow, suffering. But, we shouldn't be sad or angry. We shouldn't be impatient because, sorrow, suffering doesn't disappear due to being sad or angry. It is better to identify the cause of sorrow, suffering, how we can remove the cause. Then, we can relieve from sorrow, suffering. If there is no sorrow, suffering, we feel only happiness. This helps us to perform our activities well, even to attain nibbhana (the enlightened state).