In buddhism what is aarya dukkha? And what’s the reason for it? Dukkha is one of four noble truth. And as I heard it’s because of the impermanence. Can in permanence be the cause for the Dukkha? Is it true? Please provide practical situations when explaining.


According to some answers, the direct answer to this question is attachment (upadana). To be more specific my question is how attachment become the cause for the Noble Dukkha? Eg: If I like a car, its an attachment. And how does that become the cause for the Noble Dhukka.


According to the answer given by Brian, When attached, you find something desirable and you don't want to let it go; you want to keep it for yourself, permanently. But the thing is, conditioned phenomena are in constant change, and those things will not stay the same or with you forever. But imagine a prince, and a car he owns, It doesn't matter the conditioned phenomena (Saṅkhāra) he can maintain the car as it was. So what's the dukkha in that. Please note: I'm just trying to sharp my question by providing examples, if I'm doing any thing bad, please let me know, as I'm new to this.

  • It's not "arya dukkha" (which might mean "noble suffering" and which isn't a concept in Buddhism) -- it's dukkha-ariyasacca i.e. noble truth -- "the noble truth about dukkha".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 18:42
  • @ChrisW, That's the same thing I meant, anyway I updated it as you suggested. This happens as in my language we called it that way too. Any way for the sake of all, I'll try to fight the language barrier.
    – Isuru
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 19:05

4 Answers 4


This answer is just a complement to Dhammadhatu's wonderful answer, and it's a response to your new question added after editing the OP.

You ask about how, for instance, liking a car can lead to dukkha. Well, first we have to figure out what does "liking" mean.

To like something is to find that something likable; to find something likeble is to perceive some sense stimuli as pleasant. To perceive some stimuli as pleasant is to get in contact with a stimuli coming from and object, in this case, a car.

When you like something, two things are happening:

1) You create a concept which represents certain phenomenon (in this case, "car" is the word used to describe the sum of the parts of the car) and endow it with fixed features and qualities. And if the mind is fettered by ignorance, then your perception of such concepts also will include subjective adjective of value, i.e. you will see that concept (a car) as something nice, likable, good, desirable, etc. And if you are get more demanding, you will get obssessed only with certain kinds of such concept (certain kinds of car, with specific shapes, colors, features, etc.). In all these scenarios, you are getting attached to points of view about what is nice and what is not.

2) You can get obssessed with the sensorial features of the concept (the colors, the shape, the smell, the sound, and everything else about the car), because they gave rise to pleasant feelings in the past. In this scenario, you get attached to sense stimuli.

So, in the example given, when you like a car, you're getting attached to feeling (sensations) and points of view (about which things are good and which bad).

Attachment and clinging of any kind lead to suffering and dissatisfaction. When attached, you find something desirable and you don't want to let it go; you want to keep it for yourself, permanently. But the thing is, conditioned phenomena are in constant change, and those things will not stay the same or with you forever. This is why is so important to pay attention when craving arises, because if you let it keep its course, you will probably get attached to the object of desire.

EDIT: In my opinion, this is an excellent question, but I'm not sure if gos against the site's rules to keep expanding the question. Regardless, here are my two cents.

The "funny" thing about dukkha and dissatisfaction is that you will never get to a point where you say: it's over, I don't need anything else. One craves not because the object itself is desirable, but because we keep feeding the tendency and habit of craving.

Maybe the prince will keep its car for a long time, but some things that might affect the car are mostly still out of his control: an earthquake or a fire destroying the car, a thief stealing it, the knowledge of a car which is (according to the point of view he's attached to) "better" and "more desirable", etc. Or maybe nothing of those things will happen. But if the problem is not the car, something else will be, eventually: his health, his youth, his appearence, confrontation against his points of view, the control over his kingdom, and so on.

In sum, craving will never cease with the object of desire themselves. And so, when the object of craving and attachment goes away, dissatisfaction, stress and suffering will arise, in a greater or lesser degree and intensity. Craving only vanishes when the tendency of craving is uprooted and when ignorance in general is extinguished for good. And the training given by the Buddha in the Noble Eightfold Path is the way to achieve that end.

Kind regards, and welcome to the site!

  • Thanks for the answer, the initial part explains clearly, but the last part is not bit clear for me so I updated the question with another example.
    – Isuru
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 7:30
  • 1
    Hi Isuru! I just updated the answer. If we can help you somehow, just ask us! Kind regards! Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 7:42
  • Thanks for the answer, I'm not sure now what answer should be accepted, as the question has become broad, and two people have answered two parts of the question. Any way as I've understood, the real reason for that (EDIT2 section): Though prince expect the car behaves the way he wants, No it is not, it's because he deserves it from Karma, when ever its gonna be end its gonna end no matter what. Its basically we can't control outside things (sankatha). It behaves the way it is supposed to. But we craves on them and try to control things which is not the reality that's why it is Dukkha
    – Isuru
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 8:05
  • Yes, basically that's the gist of my answer. Although I'm not sure what you mean by "he deserves it from karma". The Buddha redefined 'karma' by changing the focus of the concept: to understand how actions (thoughts, speech and bodily actions) conditions the arising of suffering, he noticed that the important thing about our deeds is not the execution of it nor the external effect, but the intention underlying and preceding the action. Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 8:26
  • Karma is the intention of an act. If our karma is one of craving, craving will still be there in the mind; if it goes against craving (through renunciation and generosity, for example), craving will gradually start to debilitate. Kind regards! Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 8:26

In the Pali suttas, the word "dukkha" is used in three different ways:

(i) Unpleasant/painful feelings, which are not "suffering". Refer to SN 36.6, MN 37, MN 38, MN 148 and countless other suttas that explain "feelings" ("vedana") in themselves are not suffering.

(ii) The inability of impermanent things to bring true & lasting happiness (refer to SN 22.59), often loosely translated as "unsatisfactoriness", which is not "suffering". Refer to SN 22.1, which clearly explains how change (vipariṇamanti) or impermanence itself is not "suffering".

(iii) Mental suffering from mental proliferating, which is "suffering". In the 1st noble truth, all "suffering" was summarised as "attachment" ('upadana') to the five aggregates, as follows: "saṃkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā."

In summary, the "Ariya" ("Noble") perspective of what "Dukkha" is refers to "upadana" ("attachment"). It is not related to impermanence. Impermanence only contributes to suffering when impermanence is attached to as "I", "me" & "mine" (again, refer to SN 22.1).

He does not assume the body, feelings, perception, mental formations &/or consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing, or as in the self, or the self as in.... He is not seized with the idea that 'I am the body... consciousness' or 'the body... consciousness is mine.' As he is not seized with these ideas, his body... consciousness changes & alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress or despair over its change & alteration.

SN 22.1

  • Impermanence only contributes to suffering when impermanence is attached to as "I", "me" & "mine" Bit confused with the above line. So you are saying that everything impermanence contribute to suffering?
    – Isuru
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 6:05
  • 1
    If you see a leaf fall from a tree in a forest; this is impermanence but you do not suffer about it. But, alternately, if a tree you love falls down on your garden, you suffer about the impermanence of the tree. Why? Because you love the tree. You are attached to the tree. Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 8:38

When you take the Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ), that includes anything outside of Nibbana. Even the pleasurable feeling is included in the Noble Truth of Suffering.

And what, monks, is the Noble Truth of Suffering?

Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, (sickness is suffering), death is suffering, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and distress are suffering, the association with something that one does not like is suffering, the disassociation with something that one does like is suffering, not to get what one desires is suffering; in short, the clinging to the five aggregates is suffering.


In order to understand this Noble Truth of Suffering, you have to contemplate (meditate) on each of the 12 parts. Start with Birth. Take the definition that Buddha gave for Birth:

'And what, monks, is birth? In whatever beings, of whatever group of beings, there is birth, coming to be, coming forth, the appearance of the aggregates, the acquisition of the sense bases that, monks, is called birth.

Contemplate on "whatever group of beings" for example - this means in terms of different planes you can be born in: hell, animal realm, plane of the departed, human world, divine (deva) worlds and brahma worlds. Buddha says to be born in these groups is suffering. Therefore take each realm and slowly contemplate the suffering in each of them. You can contemplate more on animal realm and human ream esp. taking your own life as an example. See how much happiness there is when you magnify a day in your life and look at each action you do and the satisfaction you get from it.

Next Buddha says the acquisition of sense bases is suffering - contemplate on that. How is the eye you got at birth is suffering? Contemplate on the type of eye that you got. Is it an eye that stays the same way? Consider how long will I be able to use this eye. Like this expand to each sense base. Use your own examples. Or take parents or grand parents and see the nature of their faculties and ask yourself will my faculties be any different from this?

Like this move to each term - aging, sickness, death. Contemplate a lot on Death. After contemplating on a dead body, ask yourself will my body be any different from this? Am I not subjected to the same way?

What is the reason for it?

It is that craving which gives rise to rebirth, accompanied by pleasure & delight, finding fresh delight now here & now there -- that is to say, craving for sensuality, craving for existance, craving for non-existance.

The best way to understand this is by contemplating on Concentration Sutta

See this post on how to do the meditation on this.

When you contemplate on the origin and cessation per above meditation, if you realize a link in the dependent origination, you will break the view of permanency and you'll see the Noble Dhamma of the Tathagata.

If you try the above meditation and want to learn more, see this website: https://visuddhimagga.info/

  • this is bit contradicting with the reality. Why / how birth is suffering? why / how getting older is suffering. Eg: getting older 40+ is a suffering but getting 18 from 17 is not a suffering. So if you are trying to say impermanence is the cause for dukkha, then it cannot be right. Because, there are many things where impermanence make us happy. And about meditation, the first step to the eightfold path samma ditti can be obtain by listening to someone who knows the truth. Its not by doing the meditation to see the impermanence, which you call dependent origination
    – Isuru
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 6:57
  • - Try going up like that - 18 to 19, 19 to 20, etc. up to 40+ and see if you can find "at what step" your not-suffering changes to suffering. - You are right about Right View. Buddha is the "someone who knows the truth". And Buddha said, "what monks is the right view? It is the knowledge of the Noble Truth of Suffering, Knowledge of the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, etc..". So now having heard that, you continue to understand that further - that's where you take the first noble truth - suffering and analyze that further which is what I meant above.
    – ahtisarw
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 12:12
  • Then its not the birth its suffer, its getting older after 40 (with conditions) is the suffer. Isn't it? So that can't be what Buddha has meant. It should be more deep.
    – Isuru
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 12:18
  • - Buddhist meditation is about contemplating on dhamma. Having heard some dhamma (four noble truths), one investigates. Is that so? In what way do I understand that? How do I understand it through my own examples? When you investigate this way, a realization happens - yes I see that birth is conditioned by existence. Or, this whole mass of suffering is because of craving. When you realize that, that is the understanding of a link of dependent origination.
    – ahtisarw
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 12:23
  • You have to look at each of them. Understanding birth as suffering is different than understanding aging as suffering. Something to remember is, this deep, deep dhamma cannot be realized by reading an answer in a forum post. These are only pointers that can help you do the meditation. If one fully understands the Noble Truth of Suffering, that person is an Arahat. Also try to start at a place where you can understand. Start with what is visible here and now.
    – ahtisarw
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 12:31

Upasaka Isuru Gunawardana,

In buddhism(taken as: as what the Buddha taught)what is aarya Dukkha?

would be right answered with:

Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates (be-ing) are stressful.

In very detail explained by Ven. Sariputta here.

And what’s the reason for it?

Birth, coming into be-ing, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] spheres of the various beings in this or that group of beings, taking a stand, this is the cause of suffering.

Yet it is birth which is also root-cause of cessation of suffering, to go beyond.

(Note that this is not given for trade, stacks, exchange and entertainment which binds in this world)

  • I've questions on this, (Buddha always open for question) How Aging is stressful? When I was 15,16 I was waiting to age and exceed 18. So how can Aging is stressful? I was very happy back then.
    – Isuru
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 12:54
  • Althought not having faced till now, possible never met an old person (so am I to face), one of the heavenly messagers, Upasaka @IsuruGunawardana might not have read the details linked: "Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called aging." Drunken in three ways, it's hard to penetrate Dhamma: in youth, health, life. It's good to spend much time with old people, asking them much, and face yourself in them (proper attention).
    – user11235
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 12:59

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