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The Dukkha You Know

The Dukkha we know is a take on the idiom for the Devil we know, rather than chance the one we don’t know. Mara as the carrier of Dukkha would help the point. In this way we are saying you can’t trust the devil (as far you can throw it) our awareness of the moment finds Dukkha in the personal realm of samsara in Hojo Michael Elliston’s graphic Ascending Zen Mountain (2011).

As we ascend we must adjust our older ways of seeing from one plane to another. Our entire existence changes, we exchange one Dukkha for another. Imagine this as life mountain up one slope as gaining experience from birth and the other descending bringing it back down parinirvana.

Dukkha, (Pāli: “sorrow,” “suffering”) , Sanskrit, in Buddhist thought, the true nature of all existence. Much Buddhist doctrine is based on the fact of suffering; its reality, cause, and means of suppression formed the subject of the Buddha’s first sermon (see Four Noble Truths). Recognition of the fact of suffering as one of three basic characteristics of existence—along with impermanence (anichcha) and the absence of a self (anatta)—constitutes the “right knowledge.” Three types of suffering are distinguished: they result, respectively, from pain, such as old age, sickness, and death; from pleasure changing to pain; and from the fact that, because of impermanence, beings are susceptible to pain in the next moment.

Dogen offers in One Bright Pearl:

All the universe is the unceasing process of pursuing things and making them the self, pursuing the self and making it things. The utterance "separated” in response to [a monk’s] "when sensations arise one is separated from wisdom,” is a turning of the head or a changing of the face, a laying open of things and a seizing of opportunity, because of the pursuing of things and making them the self the universe in its entirety is unceasing. And because its own nature is prior to such activity, it is beyond grasp even through the essence of the activity.

One bright pearl is able to express Reality without naming it, and we can recognize this pearl as its name. One bright pearl communicates directly through all time; being through all the past unexhausted, it arrives through all the present. While there is a body now, a mind now, they are the bright pearl. That stalk of grass, this tree, is not a stalk of grass, is not a tree; the mountains and rivers of this world are not the mountains and rivers of this world. They are the bright pearl.

We therefore in the process of life may climb Zen Mountain and bring "IT" back with us in understanding. This understanding is thorough as we live the “Great Meaning of Life and Death.” However, our devils change as do our forms of Dukkha.

Somewhere along the path we experience that all Dharma is teaching (us) and we are becoming less ignorant, hence everything changes and therefore we can no longer sustain the nonsensical awareness that “I”am always the same. I am always so or “Inmo,” but this is thus (moment) while of our true nature as humans is “Anichcha+Annanta+Dukkha.”

What if our experiences point to the process of on-going adjustments as our true-being? What if one of these adjustments is reconfiguration of the next movement, and this process-continuation affords prajna paramita? And, this removes the self-imposed pain of not knowing when to hold them, when to let go, when to walk away or when to run.

The Devil we know changes as does the angel we know and the Four Noble Truths refer to the understanding of Buddha Nature…if we practice the principles in all our affairs. Dukkha and Devils, Sukkha and Angels come in all guises

October 31, 2023 at the First Congregational Church of Falmouth, MA at 7:00 PM/ET

Password: FSZS

108 Bows


Unshin Sangaku Dan Joslyn-sensei

Founder and Guiding Teacher

Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha


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