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As the question states, is there a clear way to distinguish the pair? I understand that stopping one's meditation practice causes the affects of the dukka nana to end. Are there any other signs?

Love and gratitude

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In original Buddhism, the word 'ñāṇa' means 'insight knowledge'. It is the culmination of the Noble Eightfold Path, as described in the following Pali Sutta:

Right view gives rise to right thought. Right thought gives rise to right speech. Right speech gives rise to right action. Right action gives rise to right livelihood. Right livelihood gives rise to right effort. Right effort gives rise to right mindfulness. Right mindfulness gives rise to right immersion. Right immersion gives rise to right knowledge. Right knowledge gives rise to right freedom.

Sammādiṭṭhissa, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo pahoti, sammāsaṅkappassa sammāvācā pahoti, sammāvācassa sammākammanto pahoti, sammākammantassa sammāājīvo pahoti, sammāājīvassa sammāvāyāmo pahoti, sammāvāyāmassa sammāsati pahoti, sammāsatissa sammāsamādhi pahoti, sammāsamādhissa sammāñāṇaṁ pahoti, sammāñāṇassa sammāvimutti pahoti.

MN 117

I am not sure the term 'dukkhañāṇa' formally exists in the scriptures however 'dukkha', as a 'knowledge', is part of the Three Characteristics, as taught in the Buddha's 2nd Sermon, as follows:

"What do you think of this, O monks? Is form permanent or impermanent?"

"Impermanent, O Lord."

"Now, that which is impermanent, is it unsatisfactory (dukkha) or satisfactory?"

"Unsatisfactory (dukkha), O Lord."

"Now, that which is impermanent, unsatisfactory (dukkha), subject to change, is it proper to regard that as: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'?"

"Indeed, not that, O Lord."

O monks, the well-instructed noble disciple, seeing thus, gets wearied of form, gets wearied of feeling, gets wearied of perception, gets wearied of mental formations, gets wearied of consciousness. Being wearied he becomes passion-free. In his freedom from passion, he is emancipated. Being emancipated, there is the knowledge (ñāṇa) that he is emancipated. He knows: 'birth is exhausted, lived is the holy life, what had to be done is done, there is nothing more of this becoming.'

SN 22.59

In the later commentary literature, such as in the renowned Visuddhimagga, from which modern (particularly Burmese) monks have contrived various systems of meditation, what is contemporarily and formally referred to 'dukkhañāṇa' forms part of the 'KNOWLEDGE OF DISSOLUTION/Bhanga Nana'

[2. KNOWLEDGE OF DISSOLUTION]

  1. When he repeatedly observes in this way, and examines and investigates material and immaterial states, [to see] that they are impermanent, painful [unsatisfactory], and not-self, then if his knowledge works keenly, formations quickly become apparent. Once his knowledge works keenly and formations quickly become apparent, he no longer extends his mindfulness to their arising or presence or occurrence or sign, but brings it to bear only on their cessation as destruction, fall and breakup.

Page 668

Therefore, regardless of the scripture text, be it Sutta or Commentary, the experience of 'dukkha-ñāṇa' results in liberation/freedom/release.


As for how the term 'dukkha-nana' is used by 21st century bloggers on the internet, such as to refer to 'Dark Night' experiences, in reality, this does not refer to any type of Buddhist Knowledge ('ñāṇa'). Instead, in reality, it exclusively refers to psychological issues, neurosis & psychosis.

We should be aware certain Western societies have strong social & childhood conditioning for worldly success & achievement. Therefore, when highly conceited worldlings have neurosis experiences when trying to practice meditation & solitude, their social conditioning makes their mind publicly boast they have attained Stream-Entry & other Insight Knowledges when, in reality, it is only psychological neurosis they are experiencing. For example, this type of social phenomena is particularly apparent on a certain chatsite operated by a self-declared married worldly Arahant.

In conclusion, in real Buddhism, the term 'dukkhañāṇa' refers to the liberating knowledge that conditioned things (sankhara) cannot bring lasting pleasure because of their impermanence. But in the contemporary financial business of 'Buddhism', the term 'dukkhañāṇa' refers to the claiming/boasting of psychological neurosis as a stage of enlightenment.

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