Editor's Foreword

Kalama Sutta, Help Us!

Two Kinds of Language

Looking Within

Happiness & Hunger

The Dhamma-Truth of Samatha-Vipassana
For The Nuclear Age

About Author

About Translator





Lecture to foreign meditators at Suan Mokkhabalarama
7 May 1986
Translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu

Today I'd like to talk about something which most of you probably misunderstand. Although you've all come here with an interest in Buddhism, you may have some wrong understanding. For this reason, please gather your mental energies and set your mind to the task of listening. Pay special attention to what will be said today.

The thing we'll be talking about is happiness (sukha). This is a word that is quite ambiguous both in Thai, kwam sukh, in the Pali langauges, sukha, and even in English, happiness. In all three languages, this word has many varied meanings and applications. It's often difficult to understand exactly what people mean when they say the word "happiness." Because this subject can get very mixed up, it is necessary to reach some understanding of this thing, which is why we'll be speaking about happiness today.

The happiness felt in the everyday lives of ordinary people is one meaning of happiness. Then, there is the other kind of happiness, the happiness that arises with the realization of the final goal of life. There are these two very different things, but we call both of them " happiness." Generally, we mix up these two meanings, confuse them, and never quite understand what we're talking about.


Here's one example of how the ambiguity of this word can cause problems. It's likely that you came here to study and practice Dhama in search of happiness. Your understanding of happiness, the happiness you desire, however, may not be the same happiness that is the genuine goal of Buddhism and the practice of Dhamma. If the sukha (happiness) that you desire is not the sukha that arises from Dhamma practice, then we're afraid that you'll be disappointed, or even heartbroken here. It's necessary to develop some understanding of this matter.

In order to save time and make it easy for you to understand, let's set down a simple principle for the understanding of happiness. The usual happiness that common people are interested in is when a particular hunger or want is satisfied. This is the typical understanding of happiness. In the Dhamma sense, however, happiness is when there is no hunger or want at all, when we're completely free of all hunger, desire, and want. Help to sort this out right at this point by paying careful attention to the following distinction: happiness because hunger is satisfied and happiness due to no hunger at all. Can you see the difference? Can you feel the distinction between the happiness of hunger and the happiness of no hunger?

Let's take the opportunity now to understand the words "lokiya" and "lokuttara," as they are relevant to the matter we're investigating today. Lokiya means "proceeding according to worldly matters and concerns." Lokiya is to be in the world, caught within the world, under the power and influence of the world. Common translations are "worldly" and "mundane." Lokuttara means "to be above the world." It is beyond the power and influence of the world. It can be translated "transcendent" or "supramundane." Now we can more easily compare the two kinds of happiness: lokiya-sukha (worldly happiness), which is trapped under the power of, governed by the conditions and limitations of, what we call "the world," and lokuttara-sukha (transcendent happiness), which is beyond all influence of the world. See this distinction and understand the meaning of these two words as clearly as possible.

We must look at these more closely. Lokiya means "stuck in the world, dragged along by the world," so that worldly power and influence dominate. In this state there is no spiritual freedom; it's the absence of spiritual independence. Lokuttara means "unstuck, released from the world." It is spiritual freedom. Thus, there are two kinds of happiness: happiness that is not free and happiness that is independent, the happiness of slavery and the happiness of freedom.

This is the point that we're afraid you'll misunderstand. If you've come here looking for lokiya-sukha, but you study Buddhism which offers the opposite kind of happiness, you're going to be disappointed. You won't find what you desire. The practice of Dhamma, including a wise meditation practice, leads to lokuttara-sukha and not to worldly happiness. We must make this point clear from the very beginning. If you understand the difference between these two kinds of sukha, however, you'll understand the purpose of Suan Mokkh and won't be disappointed here.

By now you ought to understand the difference between the two kinds of happiness: the happiness that comes from getting what we hunger for and the happiness of the total absence of hunger. How different are they? Investigate the matter and you will see these things for yourself. The happiness of "hunger satisfied" and the happiness of "no hunger" :  we can not define them more succinctly or clearly than this.

Looking Within 1 Happiness & Hunger 2


Extract from "Keys to Natural Truth" - Buddhadasa Bhikkhu ,
translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu, Published and distributed by Mental Health Publishing, 14/349-350 M.10, Rama II Road, Bangmod, Bangkok,Thailand
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