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Suffering (Skt. duḥkha; Tib. སྡུག་བསྔལ་, dukngal; Wyl. sdug bsngal) is the first of the four truths of the noble ones taught by the Buddha in his first teaching:

What is suffering? It is the pain that accompanies birth, growing old, falling sick, and dying. It also includes the suffering of meeting the unpleasant and parting from the pleasant. Not finding what is being sought is also suffering. In short the five perpetuating aggregates are suffering. This is what we call suffering.
Lalitavistara Sutra[1]


In the quote above, eight sufferings are identified; namely the sufferings of:

  • birth,
  • old age,
  • sickness,
  • death,
  • meeting what is unpleasant,
  • parting from what is pleasant,
  • not finding what is being sought, and
  • the five aggregates.

These can also be condensed into three types of suffering:

  1. suffering of suffering (Skt. duḥkha duḥkhatā; Tib. སྡུག་བསྔལ་གྱི་སྡུག་བསྔལ་, Wyl. sdug bsngal gyi sdug bsngal)
  2. suffering of change (Skt. vipariṇāma duḥkhatā; Tib. གྱུར་བའི་སྡུག་བསྔལ་, Wyl. 'gyur ba'i sdug bsngal)
  3. all-pervasive suffering of conditioning (Skt. saṃskāra duḥkhatā; Tib. ཁྱབ་པ་འདུ་བྱེད་ཀྱི་སྡུག་བསྔལ་, Wyl. khyab pa 'du byed kyi sdug bsngal)

Further Reading


  1. Source: The Play in Full, 26.61, translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Read here.

Alternative Translations

  • frustration
  • stress (Jon Kabat-Zin)