Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happiness?

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SilaSamadhi
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Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happiness?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:33 am

As I reflect on Dependent Origination, it occurs to me that all feelings are conditioned phenomena, hence they are dukkha, impermanent, and non-self.

That applies to undesirable feelings such as sadness and frustration, but equally to desirable feelings like happiness and satisfaction. In fact, the very wish to experience these latter desirable feelings is itself desire (lobha), a dukkha defilement.

The Buddha in the Canon doesn't seem happy. He seems dispassionate, distant, peaceful, and dedicated.

Interestingly, Dhamma teachers in the West are often described as "happy", e.g. Joseph Goldstein as he is described by Dan Harris in "10% Happier" (which, appropriately, promises the readers a 10% increase in happiness if they meditate).

Is that just a typical distortion of the Dhamma in the West, where it is often misperceived in the framework of "self improvement" leading to a desired result: "happiness"?

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ryanM
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by ryanM » Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:57 am

Ajahn Brahm wrote:All suffering is just a pause between two moments of happiness, and all happiness is a pause between two moments of suffering[...]
sabbe dhammā nālaṃ abhinivesāya

"nothing whatsoever should be clung to"

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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by SarathW » Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:02 am

"Pleasant feeling is pleasant in remaining, & painful in changing, friend Visakha. Painful feeling is painful in remaining & pleasant in changing. Neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is pleasant in occurring together with knowledge, and painful in occurring without knowledge."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

pegembara
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by pegembara » Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:33 am

Joy At Last To Know There Is No Happiness In The World - Ajahn Brahm

The Happiness And Suffering Of The Senses Are Just Contrast - That's All
It is the nature of a human being to get suffering and happiness in roughly equal proportions. If we're suffering now, it's because of some happiness that we had before and lost. Happiness is no more than the end of suffering, just as suffering is no more than the end of happiness. We go around in this cycle throughout our lives.

This existential fact is why the Lord Buddha says in the First Noble Truth that the five aggregates (khandhas) that make up a human being are suffering. By their very nature they are suffering. So, if anyone comes for an interview with me and says she is having a terrible time, often I want to say, "Of course, what's wrong with that?" Ajahn Chah used to say it's like someone who goes into the army to become a soldier, and then goes on to complain about being shot at and being wounded. What do you expect when you join the army? That's what happens. What do you expect when you become a human being? It's suffering.

If you knew there is no happiness in the world - no place, no where - why would you crave? All sorts of craving would be taken away. If you really saw that "all formations are suffering" if you could actually understand and accept this fully, that would be the end of craving. Why would you crave for dukkha? You only crave for what you assume to be happiness.
https://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha201.htm
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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SilaSamadhi
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by SilaSamadhi » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:08 am

pegembara wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:33 am
Joy At Last To Know There Is No Happiness In The World - Ajahn Brahm
Doesn't Ajahan Brahm teach people to find joy in meditation, specifically in the Jhanas?

binocular
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by binocular » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:20 am

Ven. Thanissaro talks about a "blameless happiness".
See, for example, his Meditations 4 for some context (search the document by the keyword "blameless").

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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by paul » Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:41 am

The mind feeds on pleasure and it is necessary to replace feelings of the flesh with feelings not of the flesh as a source of nutriment in the development of the (conditioned) path. The discrimination between the two is the task of the second foundation of mindfulness.

"Even though a disciple of the noble ones has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, still — if he has not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that — he can be tempted by sensuality. But when he has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and he has attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, he cannot be tempted by sensuality."---MN 14.

Use of fabrications:
"First the Buddha recommends mastering fabrication by using it as a tool to disband ignorant fabrications. Then he has you observe it as it’s being used, so that finally you abandon passion for fabrication of any type. This is the basic dynamic of the path."---"Right Mindfulness", Thanissaro Bikkhu
Last edited by paul on Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:11 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:33 am
As I reflect on Dependent Origination, it occurs to me that all feelings are conditioned phenomena, hence they are dukkha, impermanent, and non-self.

That applies to undesirable feelings such as sadness and frustration, but equally to desirable feelings like happiness and satisfaction. In fact, the very wish to experience these latter desirable feelings is itself desire (lobha), a dukkha defilement.
I see the concept of dukkha as pervading all experience, in that in its most general sense it denotes not just undesirable feelings, but also the undesirable characteristics of desirable feelings. One does not need to desire pleasant feelings in order for them to be dukkha; the the fact that they are viparinama (subject to change, decline, and fading away) is in itself enough to label them as unsatisfactory. Even undesired, new, unclung-to feelings of blameless happiness are dukkha, if they are not the experience of nibbana.
"Monks, there are these three kinds of suffering. What three? Suffering caused by pain, suffering caused by the formations (or conditioned existence), suffering due to change. It is for the full comprehension, clear understanding, ending and abandonment of these three forms of suffering that the Noble Eightfold Path is to be cultivated..."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .wlsh.html

Happiness is an English word that is now so battered and baggy through use that it can hold lots of different meanings. It retains something of its early meaning of "fortunate" or favoured, which would exclude it from dukkha in some contexts; but is now more to do with subjective hedonic tone, which would, as per above, make it all dukkha.

The bit about Western dhamma teachers is indeed interesting. "Spirituality", etc. in the West is a buyer's market, which is why so many secular dhamma teachers are soft-voiced and smiley with a positive demeanour. They have to be "happy" like the martial arts teacher has to be "fearless".

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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by JohnK » Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:21 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:08 am
Doesn't Ajahan Brahm teach people to find joy in meditation, specifically in the Jhanas?
I don't know if this is helpful or not, but as I understand it, all conditioned phenomena are dukkha, anicca and anatta.
The joy and happiness found in meditation is conditioned by the meditation -- this does not mean it is "bad," just not ultimately satisfying, not completely free of stress, not free of worry about loss, not permanent (and so, attachment to it is a danger). It is only the "unconditioned" (nibbana) that is free of dukkha.
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

pegembara
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by pegembara » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:51 am

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:08 am
pegembara wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:33 am
Joy At Last To Know There Is No Happiness In The World - Ajahn Brahm
Doesn't Ajahan Brahm teach people to find joy in meditation, specifically in the Jhanas?
But here he is referring to something finer than that.
It's great to be able to reflect on the Jhanas. First Jhana is so much less than you had before. You've given up so much. There's hardly anything of existence left, just this small little blip called First Jhana. You enter into Second Jhana, and there's only half a blip left. You're hardly there, and you can hardly say that you exist. You're not doing anything. You're like a rock, stable, still. There's nothing much going on because you've given up so much. There's just this last little vestige of consciousness remaining. You find that's the most blissful experience so far. When you get into Third Jhana you've given up even more. You really get into this giving up business. You really get off on it. You really get off on renunciation (nekkhamma). You can't wait to give up more: "How much more can I give up?"

You realise this is the path to liberation from suffering - letting go. You understand why - because deep down there is no one in here. When there is no owner, your possessions are free for anyone to take. When there is no owner nature can go right ahead and take your happiness and give you suffering, because you know it's going to take your suffering and give you happiness later on. These things don't belong to you.

All of our joys and depressions, our wisdom and craziness, don't belong to anybody - it's all just nature. That's all there is. So we can let go and learn to live with it, because we know it's going to change. Every time we get down, we know we're going to get up again soon. Every time we get up, we know we're going to get down again. It's just the nature of us. That's why we can smile when we're down because we know it's not going to last. That's why we can be peaceful when we're up because we know that's not going to last either.

This is how to deal with suffering and to learn to let go of things - understanding that the more you give up, the more happiness you have. It takes time though; you've got to give yourself time to be able to do these things, you have to be patient. It's a natural process and each one of you already has enough of a start. You've experienced enough suffering in this world; so don't go looking for happiness in the wrong places, otherwise you will just find more suffering.
"Now what is unworldly happiness? Quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, a monk enters upon and abides in the first meditative absorption... With the stilling of thought-conception and discursive thinking, he enters upon and abides in the second meditative absorption... With the fading away of joy as well, he dwells in equanimity, mindfully and fully aware he feels happiness within, and enters upon and abides in the third meditative absorption of which the Noble Ones announce: 'He dwells in happiness who has equanimity and is mindful.' This is called 'unworldly happiness.'

"And what is the still greater unworldly happiness? When a taint-free monk looks upon his mind that is freed of greed, freed of hatred, freed of delusion, then there arises happiness. This is called a 'still greater unworldly happiness.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nypo.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by paul » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:34 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:33 am
The Buddha in the Canon doesn't seem happy. He seems dispassionate, distant, peaceful, and dedicated.
Regarding the Buddha, the closest you can get would be to study the attitude of Ajahn Mun:
http://fcc-projects.radix.cc/build-a-tr ... idatta.jpg

2600htz
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by 2600htz » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:25 pm

Hello:

Not all happiness is dukkha:

"So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, but it is not easy to achieve that pleasure with a body so extremely emaciated.".

and trust me, the Buddha was happy :).

Regards.

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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by JohnK » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:36 pm

paul wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:34 pm
Regarding the Buddha, the closest you can get would be to study the attitude of Ajahn Mun:
http://fcc-projects.radix.cc/build-a-tr ... idatta.jpg
Or how about Maha Bua in the second of three photos here:
http://www.luangta.eu/site/pictures-album.php?album=11
:) (Or the third photo.)
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

JohnK
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by JohnK » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:43 pm

2600htz wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:25 pm
Hello:

Not all happiness is dukkha:

"...I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities...".
One can not be "afraid" of such pleasure while recognizing that it is conditioned and so still characterized by dukkha -- until the unconditioned.
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

JohnK
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by JohnK » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:48 pm

Or maybe this photo of Ajahn Chah:
https://forestsangha.org/ajahn-chah/dedication
:)
[Just providing a couple of fun examples -- not claiming any photographable "attitude" is primary.]
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

chownah
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Re: Is all happiness dukkha, or only some forms of it? If the latter, how do we distinguish dukkha from nondukkha happin

Post by chownah » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:21 am

Happiness that is dukkha stems from things in the world....happiness that is not dukkha arises independently from anything in the world.....that is how you can know the difference....I guess....don't know for sure....
chownah

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