Sukha-Duhkha, Pleasure-Pain

This is the first piece. We hear of two words a lot in Indian thought—sukha (pleasure and happiness), and dubkha (sorrow or pain). These are familiar words in Buddhism, but there is a secret in them. Sukha comes from su, meaning ‘good’ and kha meaning ‘space’. Duhkha comes from dus (or duh, dur, dush and so on, depending on the next syllable of the Sanskrit compound) meaning ‘bad’, and kha, ‘space’. The origin of the words, with their sense of happiness or pleasure and sorrow or distress, comes from the application to the axle of a chariot. As you know, the axle goes through the centre of the wheel as it turns. Now su-kha ‘good space’ is when there is space so that the wheel can turn freely on the axle, and duh-kha ‘bad space’ is when there is not enough space, or when the space is uneven or gritty, …

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