I would imagine that Dukkha, which is Buddhist term for suffering, has been a part of our lives ever since we became “mankind.” The nature and cause of dukkha might have changed over time, but its existence is akin to the rain; it always comes back after a brief lull. The gap in between could vary but it a matter of time. As we experience suffering, we develop different mechanisms to cope. Some of us escape, some turn bitter, some close themselves off from the world, some become revengeful. At the root of all of this is one simple truth. We took the experience personally. Someone or something did something to me.

In some sense, of course, this is true. If your boss was cruel to you or if your friend said or did something unreasonable, at some level, I suppose it occurred to you. In turn, if you smoked to relieve the insult or yelled at someone else, it would release the stress at a biological level. Your elevated blood pressure or heart rate might come down. Did you consider the fact that you have a choice? Between the insult and your mental and physical response was an important belief; one that explains that everything in your life is impermanent. Even your ego. In fact, the idea that everything is impermanent might end up protecting your fragile ego.

A belief in impermanence does not imply detachment from life. On the contrary, it means detachment from your experiences. The ability to let experiences, especially painful ones, pass you by without instigating negative outcomes. Impermanence also does not imply non-action. One in which you choose not to respond. Can you respond or act without the feeling of pain and hurt, bitterness and anger, sorrow or remorse? Isn’t that what dukkha is all about; the pain and the hurt?


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.