3

SN38.14 describes three types of duhkha:

“Reverend, there are these three forms of suffering. “Tisso imā, āvuso, dukkhatā. The suffering inherent in painful feeling; the suffering inherent in conditions; and the suffering inherent in perishing. Dukkhadukkhatā, saṅkhāradukkhatā, vipariṇāmadukkhatā—These are the three forms of suffering.”

I have found a few instances that allude to vipariṇāmadukkhatā being the stress associated with being wrong, having wrong view, wrong perception, not knowing, etc.

Thag 21.1 “Your mind is on fire “Saññāya vipariyesā, because of a perversion of perception.

an3.117 It’s when someone has right view, an undistorted perspective, such as:

AN 10.85 ‘My dear friend, I didn’t lie or speak hollow words. But I had gone mad, I was out of my mind.’

There are other like usages (see DN33). So why is vipariṇāmadukkhatā translated as stress of change or disappearance of happiness - these seem to be within the scope of saṅkhāradukkhatā (impermanence of conditions)?

I have not found any usage that resembles the 'stress of change'. can you point it out?

1 Answer 1

3

The translation, particularly the unwarranted addition of the word "inherent", appears inaccurate and incorrect (similar to many of this bhikkhu's translations on key subjects).

The term 'vipariṇāmadukkhatā' simply means 'state of suffering due to change'. However, this meaning does not imply all experiences of change are suffering.

Vipariṇāmadukkhatā is explained most clearly in SN 22.1, which says:

  1. Suffering when experiencing change occurs due to attachment.

  2. Non-suffering when experiencing change occurs due to non-attachment.

SN 22.1 says:

They’re obsessed with the thought: ‘I am consciousness, consciousness is mine!’

‘Ahaṁ viññāṇaṁ, mama viññāṇan’ti pariyuṭṭhaṭṭhāyī hoti.

But that consciousness of theirs decays [changes] and perishes [alters],

Tassa ‘ahaṁ viññāṇaṁ, mama viññāṇan’ti pariyuṭṭhaṭṭhāyino, taṁ viññāṇaṁ vipariṇamati aññathā hoti.

which gives rise to sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress.

Tassa viññāṇavipariṇāmaññathābhāvā uppajjanti sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā.

They’re not obsessed with the thought: ‘I am consciousness, consciousness is mine!’

‘Ahaṁ viññāṇaṁ, mama viññāṇan’ti na pariyuṭṭhaṭṭhāyī hoti.

So when that consciousness of theirs decays [changes] and perishes [alters],

Tassa ‘ahaṁ viññāṇaṁ, mama viññāṇan’ti apariyuṭṭhaṭṭhāyino, taṁ viññāṇaṁ vipariṇamati aññathā hoti.

it doesn’t give rise to sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress.

Tassa viññāṇavipariṇāmaññathābhāvā nuppajjanti sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā.

The common notion in Theravada Buddhism that vipariṇāmadukkhatā refers to a suffering when feelings/happiness change is from the Theravada Commentaries, which I trust a footnote in Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of MN 44 will affirm. This Commentary view is also incorrect.

MN 44 certainly does use the term vipariṇāmadukkhā, as follows:

Pleasant feeling is pleasant when it remains and painful when it perishes [changes].

Sukhā kho, āvuso visākha, vedanā ṭhitisukhā vipariṇāmadukkhā;

However, if we read MN 44 with heedfulness rather than with heedlessness, we will find the pleasant feelings referred to here in MN 44 are underlain with craving or lust, as follows:

What underlying tendencies underlie each of the three feelings? The underlying tendency for greed underlies pleasant feeling. The underlying tendency for repulsion underlies painful feeling. The underlying tendency for ignorance underlies neutral feeling.

This is why vipariṇāma dukkhā occurs in MN 44 in relation to pleasant feelings, namely, because those pleasant feelings are associated with greed or lust.

But when there is no greed & no lust, when pleasant feelings change, such as when the Buddha's mind changes from the 1st to the 2nd to the 3rd to the 4th jhana and then emerges, there is no suffering due to change.

As for the term saṅkhāradukkhatā, this does not mean the suffering of conditions. Saṅkhāradukkhatā refers to the suffering of mental formations, such as the sufferings caused by hallucinations of becoming (bhava) and self.

In summary, SN 38.14, is not about the inherent dukkha (unsatisfactoriness) that is the second of the three characteristics referred to in SN 22.59. Instead, SN 38.14 is simply referring to three types of attachment that are mental suffering, namely, suffering when attaching to physical pain; suffering when attaching to change; and suffering when attaching to things & life as 'self'.

2
  • it sounds more like stress of attachment than stress of change
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 3 at 14:21
  • although perhaps they are all suffering from changes - AN3.47 gives a good clue: saṅkhāradukkhatā (suffering from change of arising), vipariṇāmadukkhatā (suffering from change of vanishing), Dukkhadukkhatā (suffering from change of lack of persistence)
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 3 at 18:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .