Understanding Dukkha

Typically, the meeting after Peter’s annual year-end retreat is dedicated to his recounting of the retreat experience, with the hope his review will help him integrate the experience as well as provide others more insights about what can happen on retreat.  This retreat was significantly disrupted by the unusually 3-day freeze that occurred over Christmas, as the plants in the yard where the retreat cottage is needed to be covered, and then uncovered after the freeze.  This created the opportunity for Peter to contemplate the nature of dukkha, the First Nobel Truth, a fundamental concept within Buddhism.  There are three aspects of dukkha that are reviewed during the talk: The dukkha of inhabiting a body, the dukkha of experiencing unexpected changes, and the dukkha of how the mind fabricates a self.  The third aspect is the primary focus of mindfulness meditation.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Understanding Dukkha

The topic for next week’s talk will focus on reviewing what is called Secular Buddhism.


Reviewing The Three Characteristics Of Dukkha

This talk is the first of three talks regarding the fundamental nature of personal experience: anicca, dukkha and anatta.  The focus her is on three sub-categories of dukkha: Dukkha Dukkha (The distress associated with inhabiting a body), Sankhara Dukkha (The distress and confusion that comes from how the mind interprets experience) and Viparinama Dukkha (The distress and confusion that occurs as the result of circumstances changing beyond one’s control).  The review also addresses the causes of dukkha–craving and clinging–as well as ways to use mindfulness of breathing to decrease reactivity to the craving associated with dukkha and detachment regarding the internal “selfing story” of clinging,  There is an accompanying “Guided Dukkha Contemplation” posted the same day in the archives.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Buddhist Three Characteristics Part 1

The next topic for review will be the characteristics of anicca, the transient nature of subjective experience.


Guided Dukkha Contemplation

This guided meditation reviews the ways to identify the characteristics of Dukkha while practicing mindfulness of breathing meditation, with the intention to increase an understanding of how craving and clinging create the distress and confusion of Dukkha.  It is meant to accompany the talk titled “Reviewing The Three Characteristics of Dukkha” presented on the same day.