The Sanskrit word Dhukkha [‘Suffering’] that enters the formal rendition of the First Noble Truth seems to have had its origin in the unaligned wheels of a carriage. To be in Dhukkha is to be tossed this way and that on a bumpy road, to be in acute discomfort.
‘Life is Dhukkha‘, it said. Life can be a bitch. This was the First Noble Truth of Buddhism [Aryasatya] in its original meaning: ‘To be Human is to get hit’.
The lower Teachings of the Buddha Dharma aimed at the Popular-Ear talk about an: ‘End to Suffering’. The higher Teachings claim no such thing. The highest Teachings repeat as in a refrain: ‘[There is] no-end to suffering. And the suffering is Empty’.
Suffering is not to be explained as simply ‘Self-Love’ or similar moral variant gone cancerous and hence at some distant point in the future, fully fixable. You can reach for Karma and ‘Original Sin’, but they spring leaks in a genuine storm.
You could have chosen your parents with exemplary care, be healthy and educated, rich and famous. But there is no form of Insurance that covers this everyday-catastrophe.
And no human calibrator, no distinguished doctor of medicine, no revered writer on the human-condition, no forgotten mythic poet, no scribbler of Hollywood script, reaches within striking distance of this Cosmic Insanity.
A Divine Madness that plays out everyday in every place and in every person on this blessed planet.
Shūnyam could be a ‘Refuge’ if so applied. But Shūnyam is not a magic pill nor was it ever claimed to be so. It is simply the most stable platform from which to deal with ‘Suffering’.
If someday the teaching of Shūnyam were to become the core of a proper Education, the dealing with suffering in all its forms would be basic. As basic as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, part of the core curriculum for the grant of scholarship.
What is an ‘Education’ if it does not deal with this, the most fundamental and pervasive experience of the Human Condition?