(Wylie: sdug bsngal;
|Part of a series on|
Dukkha (Pāli; Sanskrit: duḥkha; Tibetan sdug bsngal) is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "suffering", "stress", "anxiety", or "dissatisfaction". Dukkha is identified as the first of the Four Noble Truths.
Within the Buddhist tradition, dukkha is commonly explained according to three different patterns or categories. In the first category, dukkha includes the obvious physical suffering or pain associated with birth, growing old, physical illness and the process of dying. These outer discomforts are referred to as the dukkha of ordinary suffering (dukkha-dukkha). In a second category, dukkha also includes the anxiety or stress of trying to hold onto things that are constantly changing; these inner anxieties are called the dukkha produced by change (vipariṇāma-dukkha). The third pattern or category of dukkha refers to a basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all forms of life because all forms of life are impermanent and constantly changing. On this level, the term indicates a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations or standards. This subtle dissatisfaction is referred to as the dukkha of conditioned states (saṃkhāra-dukkha).
Neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic
The central importance of dukkha in Buddhist philosophy is not intended to present a pessimistic view of life, but rather to present a realistic practical assessment of the human condition—that all beings must experience suffering and pain at some point in their lives, including the inevitable sufferings of illness, aging, and death. Contemporary Buddhist teachers and translators emphasize that while the central message of Buddhism is optimistic, the Buddhist view of our situation in life (the conditions that we live in) is neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic.[a]
Walpola Rahula explains the importance of this realistic point of view:
First of all, Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor optimistic. If anything at all, it is realistic, for it takes a realistic view of life and of the world. It looks at things objectively (yathābhūtam). It does not falsely lull you into living in a fool's paradise, nor does it frighten and agonize you with all kinds of imaginary fears and sins. It tells you exactly and objectively what you are and what the world around you is, and shows you the way to perfect freedom, peace, tranquility and happiness. One physician may gravely exaggerate an illness and give up hope altogether. Another may ignorantly declare that there is no illness and that no treatment is necessary, thus deceiving the patient with a false consolation. You may call the first one pessimistic and the second optimistic. Both are equally dangerous. But a third physician diagnoses the symptoms correctly, understands the cause and the nature of the illness, sees clearly that it can be cured, and courageously administers a course of treatment, thus saving his patient. The Buddha is like the last physician. He is the wise and scientific doctor for the ills of the world (Bhisakka or Bhaisajya-guru).
Surya Das emphasizes the matter-of-fact nature of dukkha:
Buddha Dharma does not teach that everything is suffering. What Buddhism does say is that life, by its nature, is difficult, flawed, and imperfect. [...] That's the nature of life, and that's the First Noble Truth. From the Buddhist point of view, this is not a judgement of life's joys and sorrows; this is a simple, down-to-earth, matter-of-fact description. 
The Buddha acknowledged that there is both happiness and sorrow in the world, but he taught that even when we have some kind of happiness, it is not permanent; it is subject to change. And due to this unstable, impermanent nature of all things, everything we experience is said to have the quality of duhkha or unsatisfactoriness. Therefore unless we can gain insight into that truth, and understand what is really able to provide lasting happiness, and what is unable to provide happiness, the experience of dissatisfaction will persist.[web 4]
- Dukkha of ordinary suffering
- Pali: dukkha-dukkha
- Also referred to as the suffering of suffering.
- Includes the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, death, and coming across what is not desirable.
- This outer level of dukkha includes all of the obvious physical suffering or pain associated with giving birth, growing old, physical illness and the process of dying.
- Dukkha produced by change
- Pali: viparinama-dukkha
- Also referred to as: suffering of change or suffering of impermanence.
- Includes two categories: trying to hold onto what is desirable, and not getting what you want.
- Buddhist author Chogyam Trungpa includes the category "not knowing what you want."
- Pema Chödrön described this type of suffering as the suffering of trying to hold onto things that are always changing.
- This inner level of dukkha includes the anxiety or stress of trying to hold onto things that are constantly changing.
- Dukkha of conditioned states
- Pali sankhara-dukkha
- Also referred to as all-pervasive suffering
- This category is also identified as one of the "eight types of suffering".
- Pema Chodron describes this as the suffering of ego-clinging; the suffering of struggling with life as it is, as it presents itself to you; struggling against outer situations and yourself, your own emotions and thoughts, rather than just opening and allowing.
- This is a subtle form of suffering arising as a reaction to qualities of conditioned things, including the skandhas, the factors constituting the human mind.
- This is the deepest, most subtle level of dukkha; it includes "a basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all existence, all forms of life, due to the fact that all forms of life are changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance."[web 9]
- On this level, the term indicates a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations or standards.
Dukkha can also be categorized into eight types belonging to the three categories of: inherited suffering, the suffering between the period of birth and death, and general misery. Chogyam Trunga explains these categories as follows:[c]
- Birth: the discomfort of birth and experiencing the world for the first time; and the discomfort of relating to new demands or experiences.
- Old age: the discomfort involved in the process of aging and growing old; this can apply to psychological as well as physical discomfort of aging.
- Sickness: the discomfort of physical or psychological illness.
- Death: includes the pain of separation and not being able to continue on in your endeavors, as well as the physical discomfort of dying.
Suffering between the periods of birth and death:
- Getting what you don't want: being unable to avoid difficult or painful situations.
- Not being able to hold onto what is desirable: the pain of trying to hold onto what is desirable, lovely, splendid, terrific.
- Not getting what you do want: this underlies the previous two categories; the anxiety of not getting what you want.
- All-pervasive suffering: a very subtle dissatisfaction that exists all the time; it arises as a reaction to the qualities of conditioned things (e.g. the impermanence of things).
- To be conceived
- To age
- To sicken
- To die
- To be parted from those one loves
- To be forced to live in propinquity with those one does not love
Three marks of existence
Dukkha is also listed among the three marks of existence. These are:
In this context, dukkha denotes the experience that all formations (sankhara) are impermanent (anicca) - thus it explains the qualities which make the mind as fluctuating and impermanent entities. It is therefore also a gateway to anatta, not-self.
Developing insight into dukkha
Canonical Buddhist teachings emphasize the importance of practicing meditation to develop insight into dukkha. The subtle nature of dukkha eludes an unprepared mind, as noted in Samyutta Nikaya #35, in which the Buddha says:
What ordinary folk call happiness, the enlightened ones call dukkha.
The Anapanasati Sutta and Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta each affirm that a person first needs to practice meditation (jnana) to purify the mind of the five hindrances to insight before contemplating the Four Noble Truths, which begin with the nature of "dukkha" in life.
Contemporary scholar Michael Carrithers also emphasizes the need to examine one's life. Carrithers asserts that insofar as it is dynamic, ever-changing, uncontrollable and not finally satisfactory, unexamined life is itself precisely dukkha. Carrithers also asserts that the question which underlay the Buddha's quest was "in what may I place lasting relevance?" He did not deny that there are satisfactions in experience: the exercise of vipassana assumes that the meditator sees instances of happiness clearly. Pain is to be seen as pain, and pleasure as pleasure. It is denied that happiness dependent on conditions will be secure and lasting.
Contemporary Buddhist teacher Ajahn Brahm emphasizes this point using a simile that compares the experience of dukkha to being in prison, and compares meditation (Pali: jhana) to a tunnel that leads out of the prison:[d]
Another simile [...] is that of the man who was born and raised in a prison and who has never set foot outside. All he knows is prison life. He would have no conception of the freedom that is beyond his world. And he would not understand that prison is suffering. If anybody suggested that his world was dukkha, he would disagree, for prison is the limit of his experience. But one day he might find the escape tunnel dug long ago that leads beyond the prison walls to the unimaginable and expansive world of real freedom. Only when he has entered that tunnel and escaped from his prison does he realize how much suffering prison actually was, and the end of that suffering, escaping from jail is happiness.
In this simile the prison is the body, the high prison walls are the five senses, and the relentless demanding prison guard is one's own will, the doer. The tunnel dug long ago, through which one escapes, is called jhana [meditation] (as at AN IX, 42). Only when one has experienced jhana does one realize that the five-sense world, even at its best, is really a five-walled prison, some parts of it is a little more comfortable but still a jail with everyone on death row! Only after deep jhana does one realize that "will" was the torturer, masquerading as freedom, but preventing one ever resting happily at peace. Only outside of prison can one gain the data that produces the deep insight that discovers the truth about dukkha.In summary, without experience of jhana, one's knowledge of the world is too limited to fully understand dukkha, as required by the first noble truth, and proceed to enlightenment.
Contemporary Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa explains that meditation is designed to develop an understanding of dukkha:
Understanding suffering [dukkha] is very important. The practice of meditation is designed not to develop pleasure, but to understand the truth of suffering; and in order to understand the truth of suffering, one also has to understand the truth of awareness. When true awareness takes place, suffering does not exist. Through awareness, suffering is somewhat changed in its perspective. It is not necessarily that you do not suffer, but the haunting quality that fundamentally you are in trouble is removed. It is like removing a splinter. It might hurt, and you might still feel pain, but the basic cause of that pain, the ego, has been removed.
Relation to the five skandhas
According to the Buddhist tradition, the dukkha of conditioned states (saṃkhāra-dukkha) is related to clinging to the skandhas. Oxford scholar Noa Ronkin presents her understanding of the relation between the skandhas (Sanskrit; Pali: khandhas) and dukkha:
Her conclusion is that the associating of the five skandhas as a whole with dukkha indicates that experience is a combination of a straightforward cognitive process together with the psychological orientation that colours it in terms of unsatisfactoriness. Experience is thus both cognitive and affective, and cannot be separated from perception. As one's perception changes, so one's experience is different: we each have our own particular cognitions, perceptions and volitional activities in our own particular way and degree, and our own way of responding to and interpreting our experience is our very experience. In harmony with this line of thought, Gethin observes that the skandhas are presented as five aspects of the nature of conditioned existence from the point of view of the experiencing subject; five aspects of one's experience. Hence each khandha represents 'a complex class of phenomena that is continuously arising and falling away in response to processes of consciousness based on the six spheres of sense. They thus become the five upādānakhandhas, encompassing both grasping and all that is grasped.'
Within Buddhist literature
Dukkha appears frequently in Buddhist texts. Jeffrey Po explains:
- Dukkha is an extremely important concept and is central to understanding Buddhism in its entirety. It appears in the first of the Four Noble Truths and as one of the Three Characteristics of Existence. References to "dukkha" as one of life's situations abound in many of the suttas delivered by Lord Buddha Himself as well as in numerous Buddhist philosophical and psychological thoughts.[web 12]
The Four Noble Truths deal with the nature of "dukkha" in life, what is the cause of "dukkha", the cessation (cure) for "dukkha", and the techniques to bring about the cessation of "dukkha".
- "This is the noble truth of dukkha: birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, illness is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are dukkha; union with what is displeasing is dukkha; separation from what is pleasing is dukkha; not to get what one wants is dukkha; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are dukkha."
Texts like the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta[web 14] and Anuradha Sutta,[web 15] show Buddha as insisting that the truths about dukkha and the way to end dukkha are the only ones he is teaching as far as attaining the ultimate goal of nirvana is concerned.
Within non-Buddhist literature
In Hindu literature, the earliest Upaniṣads — the Bṛhadāraṇyaka and the Chāndogya — are believed to predate or coincide with the advent of Buddhism.[e] In these texts' verses, the Sanskrit word duḥkha (translated below as "suffering" and "distress") occurs only twice. In the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, it states (in English and Sanskrit):
|While we are still here, we have come to know it [ātman].
If you've not known it, great is your destruction.
Those who have known it — they become immortal.
As for the rest — only suffering awaits them.
|ihaiva santo 'tha vidmas tad vayaṃ na ced avedir mahatī vinaṣṭiḥ
ye tad vidur amṛtās te bhavanty athetare duḥkham evāpiyanti[web 16]
In the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, it is written:
na paśyo mṛtyuṃ paśyati na rogaṃ nota duḥkhatām
Thus, as in Buddhism, these texts emphasize that one overcomes duḥkha through the development of a transcendent understanding.[g]
In 1986, the Journal of Humanistic Psychology published an article by Ralph G.H. Siu entitled Panetics—The Study of the Infliction of Suffering. In the abstract for the article, Sui proposed using the term dukkha as a quantitative measurement; he wrote:
After analyzing the unceasing mutual inflictions of suffering by practically everyone and the neglect of this pervasive and degenerating human deficiency by the academic community, I urge the immediate creation of a new and vigorous academic discipline, called panetics, to be devoted to the study of the infliction of suffering. The nature, scope, illustrative contents, and social value are outlined. The dukkha is proposed as a semiquantitative unit of suffering to assist in associated analytical operations.
Related publications include:
- Panetics: The study of the infliction of suffering. J. Humanistic Psychology 28(3), 6-22. 1988
- The humane chief of state and the Gross National Dukkhas (GND). Panetics 2(2), 1-5. 1993.
- Panetics Trilogy. The International Society for Panetics, 1994.
- Vol. I, Less Suffering for Everybody. Ibid.
- Vol. II, Panetics and Dukkhas. Ibid.
- Vol. III, Seeds of Reflection, Panetic Word Clusters. Ibid
The early Western translators of Buddhist texts (prior to the 1970s) translated the Pali term dukkha as "suffering" and conveyed the impression that Buddhism was a pessimistic or world-denying philosophy. Later translators, however, including Walpola Rahula (What Buddha Taught, 1974) and nearly all contemporary translators, have emphasized that "suffering" is too limited a translation for the term dukkha, and have preferred to either leave the term untranslated or to clarify that translation with terms such as unease, anxiety, stress, dissatisfaction, disquietude, etc.[web 12]
Rupert Gethin explains:
- Rich in meaning and nuance, the word duḥkha is one of the basic terms of Buddhist and other Indian religious discourse. Literally 'pain' or 'anguish', in its religious and philosophical contexts duḥkha is, however, suggestive of an underlying sense of 'unsatisfactoriness' or 'unease' that must ultimately mar even our experience of happiness.
On the deepest level, dukkha suggests a basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all forms of life because all forms of life are impermanent and constantly changing. Dukkha indicates a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations or standards.[web 9]
The etymological roots of the term duḥkha (and its antonym sukha) are explained by contemporary scholar Winthrop Sargeant as follows:
- It is perhaps amusing to note the etymology of the words sukha (pleasure, comfort, bliss) and duḥkha (misery, unhappiness, pain). The ancient Aryans who brought the Sanskrit language to India were a nomadic, horse- and cattle-breeding people who travelled in horse- or ox-drawn vehicles. Su and dus are prefixes indicating good or bad. The word kha, in later Sanskrit meaning "sky," "ether," or "space," was originally the word for "hole," particularly an axle hole of one of the Aryan's vehicles. Thus sukha … meant, originally, "having a good axle hole," while duhkha meant "having a poor axle hole," leading to discomfort.
According to grammatical tradition, dukkha is derived from dus-kha "uneasy", but according to Monier-Williams more likely a Prakritized form of dus-stha "unsteady, disquieted". The Sanskrit prefix 'su' is used as an emphasis suggesting wholesome, high, evolved, desirable, strong and such.[web 18]
in Chinese Buddhism, dukkha is translated as kǔ (苦 "bitterness; hardship; suffering; pain"), and this loanword is pronounced ku (苦) in Japanese Buddhism and ko (苦) in Korean Buddhism and khổ in Vietnamese Buddhism. The Tibetan (phonetic) is dukngal. In Shan, it is [tuk˥kʰaː˥] and in Burmese, it is [doʊʔkʰa̰].
Translations used for dukkha in the context of the four noble truths are:
- A basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all existence (Bhikkhu Bodhi)
- Anxiety (Chogyam Trungpa, The Truth of Suffering, pp. 8–10)
- Affliction (Brazier)
- Dissatisfaction (Pema Chodron, Chogyam Trunpa)
- Frustration (Dalai Lama, Four Noble Truths, p. 38)
- Stress (Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Jon Kabat-Zin)
- Suffering (Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Succito, Chogyam Trungpa, Rupert Gethin, Dalai Lama, et al.)
- Uneasiness (Chogyam Trungpa)
- Unease (Rupert Gethin, Venerable Punnaji )
- Unsatisfactoriness (Rupert Gethin; Dalai Lama, Four Noble Truths, p. 38; Piyadassi Thera, The Ancient Path)
- Contemporary translators and teachers point out that the centrality of dukkha in Buddhist philosophy is not intended to be pessimistic, but rather to present a realistic view of life. For example:
- Zasep Tulku Rinpoche states: "Some people think just thinking about or considering suffering is pessimistic. But when the Buddha taught the four noble truths he first talked about suffering and the cause of suffering. It is not because he was pessimistic. He was being realistic. He was saying this is how it is. This is what is happening. Look! If you want to have cessation, happiness, freedom then you must look for the cause and you need a path. You have to see suffering otherwise you have no motivation to look for a path. Don't be naïve be realistic. Look! There is suffering, physically. Old age is happening. Sickness is around us. Death is happening all the time. So that's what I mean when I say Buddhism is realistic."[web 1]
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu states: "You've probably heard the rumor that "Life is suffering" is Buddhism's first principle, the Buddha's first noble truth. It's a rumor with good credentials, spread by well-respected academics and Dharma teachers alike, but a rumor nonetheless. The truth about the noble truths is far more interesting. The Buddha taught four truths — not one — about life: There is suffering, there is a cause for suffering, there is an end of suffering, and there is a path of practice that puts an end to suffering. These truths, taken as a whole, are far from pessimistic. They're a practical, problem-solving approach — the way a doctor approaches an illness, or a mechanic a faulty engine. You identify a problem and look for its cause. You then put an end to the problem by eliminating the cause."[web 2]
- Philip Moffitt states: "Oftentimes, the First Noble Truth is misquoted as `All life is suffering," but that is an inaccurate and misleading reflection of the Buddha's insight. He did not teach that life is constant misery, nor that you should expect to feel pain and unhappiness at all times. Rather, he proclaimed that suffering is an unavoidable reality of ordinary human existence that is to be known and responded to wisely.
- Cynthia Thatcher states: "Although the first Noble Truth has been called pessimistic, Buddhist scholars have pointed out that Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. It presents things just as they are, neither better nor worse. We might add that the Buddhist outlook is one of tremendous hope, since a solution to the problem of dukkha is given in the fourth Noble Truth, a solution which amounts to a guarantee. That solution is the eight-fold path."[web 3]
- Joseph Goldstein states: "Sometimes people feel that recognizing the truth of suffering conditions a pessimistic outlook on life, that somehow it is life-denying. Actually, it is quite the reverse. By denying what is true, for example, the truth of impermanence, we live in a world of illusion and enchantment. Then when circumstances change in ways we don't like, we feel disappointed, angry, or bitter. The Buddha expressed the liberating power of seeing the unreliability of conditions: "All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation. Becoming disenchanted one becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion the mind is liberated." "
- Rupert Gethin states: "On the basis of its analysis of the problem of suffering, some have concluded that Buddhism must be judged a bleak, pessimistic and world-denying philosophy. From a Buddhist perspective, such a judgement may reflect a deep-seated refusal to accept the reality of duḥkha itself, and it certainly reflects a particular misunderstanding of the Buddha's teaching. The Buddha taught four truths and, by his own standards, the cessation of suffering and the path leading to its cessation are as much true realities as suffering and its cause. The growth of early Buddhism must be understood in the context of the existence of a number of different 'renouncer' groups who shared the view that 'suffering' in some sense characterizes human experience, and that the quest for happiness is thus only to be fulfilled by fleeing the world."
- Ajahn Sucitto states: "As the Buddha points out in his many discourses, things change, and change can be effected without the naïveté that assumes that solutions are going to be permanently satisfactory and without the pessimism that assumes that it's all hopeless. The Buddha taught dukkha, but also the cessation of dukkha. The particulars of unpleasant circumstances can come to an end or be brought to an end, even if problems then surface in other areas. And the way of meeting conflict and problems can be compassionate, calm, and peaceful in itself. So accepting that life has its dark, problematic side needn't be depressing. Most fruitfully, the kind of suffering that is the mental reaction to a situation, even on an instinctive plane, can be completely abolished. With the ending of that kind of suffering, the mind is clearer and wiser and more capable of effecting positive change in the world of ever-changing circumstances."
- Ringu Tulku states: "It is sometimes said that Buddhism is a very pessimistic religion, since it constantly talks about suffering. But Buddhism does not aim at creating suffering or a pessimistic attitude. It talks about suffering to engender an optimistic outlook. It conveys the message, "Yes there is suffering, but it can be removed." In order to do so, we have to open our eyes. If we pretend that everything is all right, it will not be of much avail, especially when a problem arises that is so great that it can not be denied." 
- Traleg Kyabgon states: "Normally we think our happiness is contingent upon external circumstances and situations, rather than upon our own inner attitude toward things, or toward life in general. The Buddha was saying that dissatisfaction is part of life, even if we are seeking happiness and even if we manage to find temporary happiness. The very fact that it is temporary means that sooner or later the happiness is going to pass. So the Buddha said that unless we understand this and see how pervasive dissatisfaction or duhkha is, it is impossible for us to start looking for real happiness."[web 4]
- Walpola Rahula writes: "The conception of dukkha may be viewed from three aspects: (1) dukkha as ordinary suffering (dukkha-dukkha), (2) dukkha as produced by change (vipariṇāma-dukkha) and (3) dukkha as conditioned states (saṃkhāra-dukkha)."
- Bhikkhu Bodhi presents a slightly different list of the eight types of suffering, as follows:[web 10]
- Sorrow, lamentation, pain , grief and despair
- Union with the unpleasant
- Separation from the pleasant
- Not getting what we desire
- This simile is comparable to Plato's Allegory of the Cave
- See, e.g., Patrick Olivelle (1996), Upaniṣads (Oxford: Oxford University Press), ISBN 978-0-19-283576-5, p. xxxvi: "The scholarly consensus, well-founded I think, is that the Bṛhadāraṇyaka and the Chāndogya are the two earliest Upaniṣads.... The two texts as we have them are, in all likelihood, pre-Buddhist; placing them in the seventh to sixth centuries BCE may be reasonable, give or take a century or so."
- This statement is comparable to the Pali Canon's Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11) where sickness and death are identified as examples of dukkha.
- For a general discussion of the core Indian spiritual goal of developing transcendent "seeing," see, e.g., Hamilton, Sue (2000/2001), Indian Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford: Oxford U. Press), pp. 9-10, ISBN 978-0-19-285374-5.
- Gethin 1998, p. 61.
- Moffitt 2008, Kindle locations 459-461.
- Goldstein 2002, p. 150.
- Gethin 1998, p. 62.
- Ajahn Sucitto 2010, p. 36.
- Ringu Tulku 2005, p. 23.
- Walpola Rahula 2007, Kindle locations 525-541.
- Lama Surya Das 1997, loc.1300.
- Thich Nhat Hanh 1999, p. 11.
- Walpola Rahula 2007, loc. 590-592.
- Chogyam Trungpa 2009, p. 26-28.
- Sakyong Mipham 2003, p. 159-160.
- Ringu Tulku 2005, p. 24.
- Lama Surya Das 1997, p. 78-80.
- Chogyam Trungpa 2009, p. 16-26.
- Ajahn Brahm 2006.
- Carrithers 1986, op cit., pp. 55-56..
- Chogyam Trungpa 2009, p. 34.
- Ronkin 2005, p. 43.
- Bhikkhu Bodhi (translator) 2000, p. 1844.
- BU 4 April 2014, trans. Olivelle (1996), p. 66.
- CU 7.26.2, trans. Olivelle (1996), p. 166.
- Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 28, No. 3, 6-22 (1988).
- Walpola Rahula 2007, loc. 525-541.
- Prebish 1993.
- Keown 2003.
- Walpola Rahula 2007, loc. 514-524.
- Sargeant 2009, p. 303.
- Monier-Williams 1899, 1964, p. 483.
- Neither optimistic nor pessimistic but realistic by Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
- Life Isn't Just Suffering by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- Buddhism by Cynthia Thatcher
- The Four Noble Truths by Traleg Kyabgon
- Suffering in Depth by Bhikkhu Bodhi
- The Three Kinds of Suffering by Toni Bernhard
- Dukkha Sutta: Stress translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- Embracing Imperfection by Ines Freedman
- The Four Noble Truths - By Bhikkhu Bodhi
- The First Noble Truth - Dukkha by Bhikkhu Bodhi
- Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Oslo, 16 June, 2012
- Is Buddhism a Pessimistic Way of Life? by Jeffrey Po
- Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- MN 63, trans. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, retrieved from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.063.than.html
- SN 22.86, trans., Thanissaro Bhikkhu, retrieved from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.086.than.html
- BrhUp 4,4.14. Retrieved 28 December 2008 from "Georg-August-Universität Göttingen" at http://www.sub.uni-goettingen.de/ebene_1/fiindolo/gretil/1_sanskr/1_veda/4_upa/brup___u.htm.
- ChUp 7,26.2. Retrieved 27 December 2008 from "Georg-August-Universität Göttingen" at http://www.sub.uni-goettingen.de/ebene_1/fiindolo/gretil/1_sanskr/1_veda/4_upa/chup___u.htm.
- Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network
- Bhikkhu, Thanissaro (1997), Tittha Sutta: Sectarians, AN 3.61, retrieved 12 November 2007
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2000), The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, Boston: Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-331-1
- Brahm, Ajahn (2006), Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-275-7.
- Brazier, David (2001), The Feeling Buddha, Robinson Publishing
- Carrithers, Michael (1986), The Buddha. Cited in Founders of Faith, Oxford University Press
- Das, Surya (1997), Awakening the Buddha Within, Broadway Books, Kindle Edition
- Epstein, Mark (2004), Thoughts Without A Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective, Basic Books, Kindle Edition
- Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press
- Goldstein, Joseph (2002), One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism, HarperCollins
- Harvey, Peter (1990), Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press
- Kalupahana, David J. (1992-B), A history of Buddhist philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited
- Keown, Damien (2003), Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-860560-9
- Leifer, Ron (1997), The Happiness Project, Snow Lion
- Lopez, Donald S. (2001), The Story of Buddhism, HarperCollins
- Mipham, Sakyong (2003), Turning the Mind into an Ally, Riverhead Books
- Moffitt, Phillip (2008), Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering, Rodale, Kindle Edition
- Monier-Williams, Monier (1899, 1964), A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, London: Oxford University Press
- Nanamoli, Bhikkhu (1995), The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, Boston: Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-072-X
- Nhat Hanh, Thich (1999), The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Three River Press
- Prebish, Charles (1993), Historical Dictionary of Buddhism, The Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-2698-4
- Potter, Karl (2004), The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Vol. IX: Buddhist philosophy from 350 to 600 AD
- Rahula, Walpola (2007), What the Buddha Taught, Grove Press, Kindle Edition
- Ronkin, Noa (2005), Early Buddhist Metaphysics: the Making of a Philosophical Tradition, Routledge
- Sargeant, Winthrop (2009), The Bhagavad Gita, SUNY Press
- Snelling, John (1987), The Buddhist handbook. A Complete Guide to Buddhist Teaching and Practice, London: Century Paperbacks
- Sucitto, Ajahn (2010), Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching, Shambhala
- Trungpa, Chogyam (2009), The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation (edited by Judy Leif), Shambhala
- Tulku, Ringu (2005), Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness: The Three Vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism, Snow Lion
- The Journey Starts Here, Shambhala Sun
- The various meanings of the Pali term "Dukkha", edited by John T. Bullitt - Access to Insight
- On understanding the teaching of Dukkha by the Buddha, Kingsley Heendeniya
- Ku 苦 entry (use "guest" with no password for one-time login), Digital Dictionary of Buddhism
- International Society for Panetics