Words with intriguing meanings: Dukkha and Sukha


Pali (Pāli) is an ancient language of India and the sacred language of Buddhism.

The Pali word for suffering is ‘dukkha’. This is widely known, especially by those with an interest in Buddhism or new age philosophies generally. The word is complex, however, covering many different aspects of the unsatisfactory nature of human life and all existence.

The literal or original meaning of the word is fascinating. It means “stuck” – literally the axle hole of a cart that won’t allow the wheel to turn.

The opposite of Dukkha is Sukha, meaning “happiness,” “comfort” or “ease.” It literally means “unstuck.” Or “having a good axle-hole.”

Sometimes taking a word back to its roots opens up its meaning in ways that a thousand hours of teaching, or meditating, never could.

The trick is allow the wheels to turn.


Photo 'Wagon Wheels, Romania' by Luke Price via FLickr and Creative Commons
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