Wednesday, August 22, 2012


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Lecture at Suan Mokkhabalarama,
Translated by Roderick Bucknell
Now we shall say something about the word "world" (loka). In everyday language, the word "world" refers to the Earth, this physical world, flat or round or however you conceive it. The "world" as the physical Earth is everyday language. In Dhamma language, however, the word "world" refers to worldly (lokiya) mental states, the worldly stages in the scale of mental development - that is to say, dukkha. The condition that is impermanent, changing, unsatisfactory - this is the worldly condition of the mind. And this is what is meant by the "world" in Dhamma language. Hence it is said that the world is dukkha, dukkha is the world. When the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truth (ariya-sacca), he sometimes used the term "world" and sometimes the term "dukkha" They are one and the same. For instance, he spoke of:
- the world;
- the cause of the arising of the world;
- the extinction of the world;
- the path that brings about the extinction of the world.
What he meant was:
- dukkha;
- the cause of dukkha;
- the extinction of dukkha;
- the path that brings about the extinction of dukkha.
So in the language of the Buddha, the language of Dhamma, the word "world" refers to dukkha; suffering and the world are one and the same.
Taken another way, the word "world" refers to things that are low, shallow, not profound, and fall short of their highest potential. For instance, we speak of such and such a thing as worldly, meaning that it is not Dhamma. This is another meaning of the word "world" in Dhamma language. "World" does not always refer simply to this Earth, as in everyday language.
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