310. The Devastating Mistranslations of dukkha

Few alterations of Gotamo's original message have caused as much damage as the (mis)translations of the Pali word dukkha.

The combined net result of out-of-context quotes and inappropriate labelling is that the bottomline of  'Buddhism' is being equated with the statement 'all life is suffering' for the majority of people. It does not require a vast amount of knowledge about Gotamo's teachings or on the subject of the human mind in general in order to recognize how an opinion such as 'all life is suffering' can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy and have devastating consequences.

Both super- and subconscious minds are taking statements that are formulated as commands literally and will execute them once they have entered the system through the conscious mind:

Once having entered the sub- and superconscious parts of the mind of a being, several things will happen if no further actions are taken:
  This way, entire populations have rushed into self-destruction, dragging with them millions of beings, human and animals alike.

The 'cause' will always be blamed on whoever happens to be on the other side of the incident that has been postulated, provoked, or 'pulled in', thus strengthening the 'victim' viewpoint and in the wake lowering responsibility.

There are several vicious features of this trap in which a Being can easily be caught when going on this route to disaster, some of which are:

One could write a book of hundreds of pages explaining why translating dukkha as 'suffering' is a fatal mistake.  One could add a couple of hundred pages with examples of how 'happiness is achieved through happiness' which Gotamo was reported to have presented to his audience.

The bottom line is that the complete 'truth of dukkha', the first of the four 'noble truth', can only properly be recognized in a liberated state. But then, it should be considered that by recognizing a condition 'as it is'  the condition is automatically resolved ('as-ised').

In this notebook, dukkha will be left mostly untranslated. A close English description in a modern context would be the concept of 'case', a wording that is not too widespread, however. Throughout this book one could safely use the word 'dukkha' whenever the word 'case' has been used.

The word 'in-sanity' would also be an acceptable choice in many cases because it maintains the original structure of the compound word dukkha which literally means 'not wholesome'.

How did the translation 'suffering' enter the scene?  'Suffering' is a consequence of dukkha in very much the same way that 'case' or 'in-sanity' is the cause of the problems that a person has in life.

A person has to realize that it has 'case' before it can do something about it. This is a modern phrasing of the 'first noble truth: the truth of dukkha'. In order to do something about 'case', it has to be understood how it came about in the first place and how it continues to be created. This is obviously the 'second noble truth' of Gotamo. The third one is the truth about resolving 'case', or 'the truth of resolving dukkha'. This is the basic possibility of  what is nowadays called 'clearing' or 'processing'. The forth truth, the 'path to resolving case (dukkha)', would be called 'applied technology' in modern words.

In any case, to close this sad chapter of the notebook with a more positive note, here is  a quote from the Pali Canon about a liberated person:




Copyleft © 1998 by Maximilian J. Sandor, Ph.D.