The next words of the Heart Sutra are shorthand for The Four Noble Truths ...
No/ suf/fer/ing/, nor/ cause/ or/ end/ to/ suf/fer/ing/
... So, let's take a few days to talk about those Truths ...
...at the very heart of the Buddha's Teachings.
So elegant and direct, thus the very simplicity of the teaching can be lost ...
Life is Dukkha,
there is a cause for Dukkha,
there is a way to the cessation of Dukkha,
that way is the Noble Eightfold Path
So, what is 'Dukkha'?
No one English word captures the full depth and range of the Pali term Dukkha. It is sometimes rendered as 'suffering', as in 'life is suffering'. But perhaps it's better expressed as 'dissatisfaction', 'anxiety', 'disappointment' 'unease at imperfection' or 'frustration', terms that wonderfully convey a subtlety of meaning.
Your 'self' wishes this world to be X,
yet this world is not X.
The mental state that may result to the 'self' from this disparity is Dukkha.
Shakyamuni Buddha gave many examples ... sickness (when we do not wish to be sick), old age (when we long for youth), death (if we cling to life), loss of a loved one (as we cannot let go), violated expectations, the failure of happy moments to last (though we wish them to last). Even joyous moments ... such as happiness and good news, treasure or pleasant times ... can be a source of suffering if we cling to them, are attached to those things.
In ancient stories, Dukkha
is often compared to a chariot's or potter's wheel that will not turn smoothly as it revolves. The opposite, Sukkha
, is a wheel that spins smoothly and noiselessly, without resistance as it goes.