I came across an explanation of the Buddha’s core message that humankind suffers that made everything clearer by author Peter Russell in the article, Not Resisting Resistance. To paraphrase, Russell explains that when you translate the terms used by the Buddha in his native tongue, Pali, a more concise picture is painted. The Buddha spoke of “sukha” and “dukkha” when referring to the common state of the mind.
The term “sukha” literally means “good axle hole”. It alluded to the need for a proper balanced axle hole in order for a wheel to turn with ease, without resistance, to give an easier and more pleasant journey. If the hole is out of kilter, the wheel doesn’t turn freely, meets resistance, and the ride becomes bumpy.
Which brings us to its counterpart, “dukkha”. “Dukkha” translates to “bad axle hole”. An axle that meets any form of resistance cannot turn with ease. It rattles. It shakes. It squeaks. It doesn’t give a pleasant ride at all. It makes it almost impossible for a passenger to relax.
So, considering these terms, we can see what the Buddha meant when he spoke of the resistance in the mind and how it causes a state of tension, a state of disharmony, a state of suffering. When our thoughts are thoughts of resisting an experience, a situation, or even ourselves and others, we’ve created a dukkha. The longer it persists, the less we are able to relax and the longer we experience a perception of suffering. When we stop this internal resistance, when we flow with life, we create the sukha and our journey becomes peaceful.
The Buddha knew and taught that the act of internal resistance is not our natural state of being. The discord it causes creates our mental and emotional suffering as we move through life. When the resistance is dropped, or when the experiences life brings are no longer met with resistance but accepted completely without judgement, we then are able to be at peace amidst any storm. We enter our natural state and simply flow with the rest of existence, with the wheel of life.