by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw
(62) Dukkha, characteristic of Dukkha and Dukkhanupassana
Since it has been taught that dukkha means: “Yadani – cam tam dukkham – which is transient and therefore, ‘suffering’; the five khandhas not being lasting, are dukkha (suffering). Of these khandhas, only dukkhavedana, the sensation of suffering which is one of the constituents of vedanakhandha, is misery, for being distressful. The rest of the four khandhas and sukhaupekkha are not the miserable conditions which are causing harm and distress. However, since they are devoid of pleasure for being impermanent or transitory by nature, they are to be termed “dukkha”. And also because it cause the distressing sensation – dukkhavedana – and is likely to cause trouble and pain, it is said to be “dukkha”. Let’s recite a motto as shown below:
“Impermanent are the Five Khandhas which are in reality dukkha, suffering.”
These five khandhas being incessantly arising and dissolving are always causing pain and suffering. These khandhas by causing stiffness, hotness, etc., are often ill-treating. That is why it is termed as “dukkha” – terribly miserable. This nature of constant suffering and misery is to be understood as the characteristic or mark of dukkha. Let’s recite a motto which is composed as follows:
“Constant ill-treatment caused by the arising and dissolution of khandhas is the characteristic of dukkha (dukkhanupassana).
A Yogi who is continuously contemplating on the arising phenomena of rupa and nama, perceives the formation or arising of new khandhas following instantaneously without appreciable interval upon the dissolution of the old. He realises the causation of unbearable pain and suffering, and becomes satisfied finding them as being miserable and frightful through his personal insight-knowledge. This is the real ‘dukkhanupassana-nana’ I have coined a motto which may be recited as follows:
“Awareness of suffering and misery for having found the transient nature of arising and dissolution at the moment-of-contemplation and noting, is dukkhanupassana-nana.
Let us now recite by developing metta as: “May all be happy” while contemplating the manner of ill-treatment caused by the condition of arising and dissolution of things, and developing dukkhanupassana. Please follow the recitation.
“May all beings be happy…” (Repeat three times)