Duhkha, a Sanskrit term that is very important upon the Yogic path, literally translates to mean “Bad axle hole”. And although that translation may evoke confusion and quizzical looks, once explained, it makes perfect sense in our everyday experience. Duhkha is often times simply translated in the West as “Pervasive Suffering”.
Think about it: When an axle hole is off kilter, it results in an uncomfortable and harsh ride, as the wheel is unable to smoothly rotate around it. Just so, when our central belief systems and world views are off kilter, it results in an uncomfortable and harsh daily existence, as we are unable to smoothly mesh with the Real. Duhkha makes our lives seem incomplete, filled with anxiety and discontent. Duhkha fills us with a hollow yearning throughout our lives.
According to yoga, this state of Duhkha exists so pervasively in our lives that we become unconscious of it. But though we are not conscious of our suffering, we continue to be driven by it, trying to fill in our feeling of incompleteness with food, sex, consumer goods, or whatever else we can get our hands on. We try to assuage our feelings of anxiety and discontent with as many distractions as we can muster.
The truth of the matter is, the only way that we can truly do away with Duhkha in our lives, is to straighten out the “Axle Hole”. In the case of Duhkha, this means, aligning our central belief systems, our world views with the True Self, or True Reality.
When one practices Yoga and meditation and glimpses the “True Self”, the way the experiences are generally described are as “Peaceful”, “All is as it should be”, “An Intrinsic Knowing”, “Connected and complete”. In other words, the experience of the True Self can be described as being “Without Duhkha”.
Interestingly, as blissful as the state of the True Self is, and as painful as the state of Duhkha is, the mind finds itself uncomfortable with the absence of pervasive suffering. As a result, when you practice yoga or meditation and you enter into the state of the True Self, the mind will fight to recreate suffering. After all, that is the state in which the mind has existed for years, even lifetimes. It is like a prisoner who has spent 50 years in jail and is offered release. That prisoner will usually do just about anything to stay in the prison that he/she has known for what seems like forever.
The good news is that the more you practice and become aware, the more you are able to deal with the mind’s struggle to renter into suffering. Over time, the mind learns to be at peace within the state of non-suffering. A life practice to be sure, but one well worth the journey.
The Yogic Way®
Kavita Maharaj is the owner of Red Door Yoga® and the director of The Red Door Yoga School® in Lantzville. She can be reached at 250-390-9367 or through www.reddooryoga.ca for questions.