The Characteristic of Dukkha - what is the meaning of postures conceal dukkha

Questioner: I have heard that the postures conceal dukkha. Please, could you explain this?

Sujin: All conditioned realities have the characteristic of dukkha. They are impermanent and therefore they cannot be a real refuge, they are unsatisfactory, dukkha. Thus, dukkha is not merely painful feeling. People who believe that dukkha is merely painful feeling think, when they feel stiffness and assume a new posture in order to avoid stiffness, that the new posture conceals dukkha. However, any posture conceals the characteristic of dukkha if one has not developed panna. What we take for the whole body or a posture are in reality many different rupas that arise and fall away. They are impermanent and thus dukkha. However, people do not realize, no matter they are sitting, lying down, standing or walking, that there are rupas all over the body, arising and falling away, and that these rupas are dukkha.

It has been explained in the Visuddhimagga that the postures conceal dukkha. The meaning is that the characteristic of dukkha of the nama and rupa which arise and form together different postures is concealed, so long as one takes the body for a “whole,” for “mine.” The characteristic of dukkha is concealed so long as one does not know the characteristic of dukkha of one nama and one rupa at a time, as they arise and fall away.

When one asks people who have just assumed a new posture whether there is dukkha, they will answer that there is not. If they confuse painful feeling with the truth of dukkha, how can they understand that the postures conceal dukkha? There must be dukkha, otherwise it cannot be said that the postures conceal dukkha. If one has not realized the arising and falling away of nama and rupa, all postures, no matter they are connected with painful feeling or not, conceal the characteristic of dukkha.

If a person does not develop panna in order to understand nama and rupa as they are, he has the wrong understanding of dukkha. He may believe that he knows the truth of dukkha when he ponders over his painful feeling, dukkha vedana, caused by stiffness, before he changes into a new posture in order to relieve his pain. He cannot know the truth of dukkha so long as he does not discern the characteristic of non-self of nama and rupa. This is the case if he does not know the nama which sees and colour appearing through the eyes, the nama which hears and sound appearing through the ears, the nama which smells and odour, the nama which tastes and flavour, the nama which  experiences tangible object and tangible object, the nama which thinks, happiness, sorrow and other realities.

Also the reality which thinks that it will change posture is not self, it should be realized as a type of nama which arises and then falls away. If one does not know this one will not be able to understand the characteristic of dukkha. Only if one is naturally aware of nama and rupa as they appear one at a time, panna can develop stage by stage, so that the noble truth of dukkha can be realized.

Topic 199