Dukkha and the Unbiased

The lakshana of Dukkha seemed a really obvious theme for a retreat: the way we create suffering for ourselves and others; the way we engage with it or disengage with it. It’s a rich and demanding subject that leads directly to the core of our ‘dis-ease’ and all that the Dharma is trying to address.

One of the earliest formulations of the Dharma is the Buddha’s teaching of the Four Noble Truths and he takes dukkha as the content of the first of these truths. In ‘Crossing the Stream’, Sangharakshita writes: ‘By beginning with the fact of pain Buddhism involves the whole emotional nature of man from the very onset. Recognition of the First Noble Truth comes not as a pleasant intellectual diversion but as a terrible emotional shock. The Scriptures say that one feels then like a man who suddenly realizes that his turban is in flames.’

Saddhanandi shares something of the retreat she ran with Vessantara at Adhisthana in 2019

The Three Levels of Dukkha:
• Dukkha-dukkhata – our reactivity to unpleasant vedana
• Viparinimana-dukkhata – the pain of impermanence, our reactivity to the impermanent and changeable nature of pleasant vedana
• Sankhara-dukkhata – our existential unease of being conditioned: the precarious nature of being dependant and affected by conditions
And then there’s the liberation, through the ‘gateway’ of Dukkha: the wisdom of appanihita (apranihita) – the unbiased and undirected. A quality of poise without the driven insecurity of self-clinging: something has ceased!

Through short presentations and led meditations this theme was explored on an Order retreat at Adhisthana in 2019. A retreat that started on the first evening with a simple and direct question: ‘In what way am I creating suffering right now? It unfolded from there…

There are many ways you might engage with the material, following it alone, with your chapter, or with friends for example.

We recommend this retreat only for those who have already have an established practice of Mindfulness of Breathing & Metta Bhavana.

Full Retreat

All talks, led meditations and reflections on Free Buddhist Audio


Sangharakshita – Where Buddhism Begins and Why it Begins There in Crossing the Stream
Sangharakshita – The Nature of Existence Chapter in The Three Jewels
Sangharakshita – The Texture of Reality from 1966
Vessantara – Dealing with Overwhelm in Troubled Times
Vidyamala – Dying to Live
Maitreyabandhu – Against Avoiding Pain
Ratnaguna – Pain and Suffering
Dhivan – Guided reflection on the Twenty Four Nidanas
Vajrapriya – Lead-through of Tonglen

English (UK)