Sukha-Dukha in the Pali canon reflect on the state of a chariot as determined by the fit of wheel and axle. “Suk” is the hole in the wheel through which the axle runs and its fit “Ha” is called balance.
In this context the fit and balance is either off or on (true). Being wobbly is dukha, out of round or untrue, while the absence of such, is devoid of the catchments of sound and fury–harmoniousness of axle and hub.
Sukha is a feeling of ease, well-being and satisfaction and can range from mild to intense and be either momentary or enduring. The Buddha distinguished between worldly happiness which is derived mainly from pleasure or material gain, and spiritual happiness which is derived from being virtuous and gradually freeing the mind. Some examples of worldly happiness which the Buddha says are legitimate and worthwhile are the happiness of ownership, of wealth and of freedom from debt (A.II, 68). The sense of achievement, from excelling in one’s chosen profession and making a good living out of it can make one very happy (D.I,51). On a higher level, some of the things conducive to spiritual happiness include practicing the Precepts (D.I,69), being just (A.I,294), calming the senses (D.I,69), thinking about and rejoicing in one's own good deeds (Dhp,16), taming the mind (Dhp.35), being able to love despite being surrounded by those who hate (Dhp.197) and being at peace (Dhp.202). The highest and most refined happiness comes from attaining enlightenment (Dhp.203). Concerning the two levels of happiness, the Buddha advises, ‘If by giving up worldly happiness one can attain the higher happiness the wise person should do so, seeing it as a more enriching happiness’ (Dhp.290). ( the underlining is by Sangaku)
So what about giving-up worldly happiness for enriching happiness of enlightenment?
In our Zen practice moments arise driven by conditions and variables that weigh on our capacities. This is so for us all. As such, timing as to when to hold and let go determine reaction.
Much of Buddha’s teaching is reflective of the wisdom to lean toward non-tight grasping. For example, in Dogen’s 108 Gates of Dharma Illumination. he explores action-leaning toward sukha or dukha and as such winds his way through the Four Nobles Truths, Noble Eightfold Path, and Precepts.
This is a helpful reminder that we live in vow as everyday practice...
Join us Tuesday August 30, 2022, as we ride the chariot…