The Personal Experience Of Ignorance – Dukkha Sutta



For a complete understanding of this sutta within the context intended by an awakened human being, please read the suttas linked at the end of this article. ([x])

Everything the Buddha taught was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and the ongoing stress, suffering and distraction that results from ignorance of Four Noble Truths.  [1]

His first teaching was taught to describe the results of this common ignorance and the singular path the Buddha taught to recognize and abandon ignorance. [2,3]

Dukkhata is an ancient Pali word. It is an abstract noun that describes in a broad and general manner the confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing stress, suffering, and unsatisfactory experiences arising from ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Dukkha is an ancient Pail word that describes the actual experience of Dukkhata. Below, the word stress refers to Dukkha.

In the Dukkha Sutta, Venerable Sariputta teaches Jambukhadika a simple, direct, and useful understanding of three forms of Dukkha.

These three forms of stress referred to are rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths and Three Marks Of existence resulting in fabricated (corrupted) wrong views. [4]

Understanding Dukkha from Right View avoids the misguided common practice of mindlessly “embracing” and over-analyzing any reactive, self-referential, thought or feeling arising from ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

My comments below are in italics.


The Personal Experience Of Ignorance – Dukkha Sutta

Samyutta Nikaya 38.14

On one occasion Venerable Sariputta was in Nalaka. The wanderer Jambukhadika approached with a question:

“Wise friend, when speaking of stress which forms of stress are referred to?”

“Friend Jambukhadika, there are three forms of stress.

  • The stress of pain.
  • The stress of fabrications.
  • The stress of change.

“These are the three forms of stress. “

“Wise teacher, is there a path, a practice, for the full understanding of these forms of stress?”

“Yes, there is a path, a practice, for developing a full understanding of these three forms of stress. The path is precisely the Noble Eightfold Path:

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Meditation

“This, friend  Jambukhadika, is the path, the practice for developing the full understanding of these three forms of stress.

“This path is an auspicious path, an auspicious practice for the full understanding and abandonment of (reacting to) these three forms of stress and the development of moment-by-moment refined mindfulness.”

An auspicious day is characterized by the Buddha as moment-by-moment refined mindfulness: “Do not chase the past or project your thoughts to the future. Remain free of entanglements with the world and mindful of what is occurring. Be mindful of impermanence and uncertainty. Those that do so will have an auspicious day. So says this Peaceful Sage.” [5]

End Of Sutta


  1. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  2. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  4. Fabrications
  5. The Bhaddekaratta Sutta – Mindfulness of What Is Occurring
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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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