THE ALTERNATIVE MEANING OF DUKKHA: NOT RUNNING SMOOTHLY
The main point of this first part is to look at the word: DUKKHA : Dukkha always used to be translated as "suffering"(5,1,8) Modern translations often leave it as dukkha, one modern translation uses the word "stress"(3).
These days in the wikipedia (July 2012) when we look under "dukkha", it is translated as "suffering", "unsatisfactory", "unease", "anxiety", or "dissatisfaction".
However what i find interesting is under the etymology : where it says:
|"The ancient Aryans who brought the Sanskrit language to India were a nomadic, horse- and cattle-breeding people who travelled in horse- or ox-drawn vehicles. Su and dus are prefixes indicating good or bad. The word kha, in later Sanskrit meaning "sky," "ether," or "space," was originally the word for "hole," particularly an axle hole of one of the Aryan's vehicles. Thus sukha … meant, originally, "having a good axle hole," while duhkha meant "having a poor axle hole," ... "
So, in practice dukkha originally refered to if the axle fitted in the axle hole and then could turn easily ... the effect of which may be discomfort or suffering or not getting there on time or breaking down on the way. I would like to suggest dukkha meant not running smoothly.
I suggest Buddha must have been aware of this common usage of the word dukkha and made a comparison with this simple wheel axle, so very important for everyday life in those days. Though i am no expert, it seems such simple spoked wheels and axles have existed since around 3,000BC (Buddha lived 500BC). ... In those days such wheels where the epitomy of mechanical excellence and efficiency. (and maybe innefficiency was buddhas meaning but these days the word efficiency has too many financial overtones).
To make a good axle one would need craftsmen to know which woods to use and how to cut them so they would last for years, and good axles had metal coatings with animal grease to reduce the friction ... then these days axles with ball bearings are the least of our transport problems - in those days to the only really important thing was to get the axle running smoothly.
I am also not an expert on languages ... however it is clear, one sense of what budddha may have been saying, is simply: the wheel of life and death is not running smoothly
Now, another interesting point is that if there are 2 perspectives on a subject, then there are usually 3 or 4 more which could also be valid ... eg. could Buddha have intended a double meaning? or how else could such an important everyday concept (in those days) as the axle, have been used to symbolise the wheel of life?
I must ask someone who still makes cart wheels what the requirements are. I can only imagine that the priority for a good hub on a cart wheel is for the axle to run smoothly, but i wonder what all the requirements are, and what all the problems are with a bad axle hole?