“Dukkha” & the Grim Reaper

Given a world of approximately eight billion people, whatever one says about humanity is an over-generalization. The Buddha observed that the ultimate outcome for everyone is sickness and death. But not everyone faces an end of acute suffering. Some people live generally happy lives and then die peacefully in their sleep. Yet as Thoreau observed in Walden “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” So for many, “dukkha” is precisely their fate. Some religions preach a doctrine of karma that the miserable of this world are reaping the consequences of their previous lives. Others with teachings of divine predestination suggest that the miserable of this world are living the life God designed for them. By contrast, Epicurus and the Stoics taught that happiness is achieved by anyone only through ataraxia, i.e. a state of “tranquility” achieved by accepting fate and being an affectionate, virtuous person, worthy of trust.

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