In Sanskrit and Pali language, Sukha refers to happiness, pleasure, ease, or bliss. Sukha refers to authentic state happiness which lasts long. In the early scriptures, we can find that sukkha is presented in contrast to the word Preya which means transient pleasure. Sukha is long termed while Preya is the short termed happiness. In the Pali Canon, the term sukha is used in the context of describing laic pursuits, meditative absorptions, and intra-psychic phenomena.
The word Sukha is believed to be derived from Aryan terminology for an axle hole. As Winthrop Sargeant explains, the Sanskrit language was brought to India by the ancient Aryans. They were nomadic, horse- and cattle- breeding people who travelled in horse or ox driven vehicles, cart. In those period, Su and dus were prefixes that indicates good and bad. Hence they were joined with kha, originally meaning hole, particularly an axle hole of one of the Aryan's vehicles. Therefore, they used Sukha for the journey for good ride and dukkha for bad ride.
Sukha in Pali literature
In the Pali Canon, the term is used in a general sense which refers to well-being and happiness in either this present life or future lives. In addition to this meaning, sukha is also associated with technical term which describes sukha as a factor of meditative absorption and a sensory-derived feeling.
The sutras in the Pali Canon portrays about the Buddha discussing about well-being and happiness; sukha in present life; and sukha in the future life with different lay people. These sutras are Anana Sutra, Kalama Sutra, DIghajanu Sutra, and Metta practice.
Anana Sutta: this sutra mentions the Buddha describing four types of happiness for a householder partaking of sensuality. These types are:
the happiness of earning wealth by just and righteous means.
the happiness of using wealth liberally on family, friends, & on meritorious deeds.
the happiness of debtlessness.
the happiness of blamelessness.
Among these four types of householder happiness, the happiness of blamelessness is regarded as the greatest householder happiness.
Kalama Sutta: this sutra mentions the lay people's inquiry about the process to know the true spiritual teachings. In reply, the Buddha counsels them that they should first be a part of the teaching and examine the learnings are skillful, blameless, praised by the wise and when put these learning into practice leads to wellbeing and happiness or not.
The Buddha also asks the people to assess greed, hate, and delusion. If the spiritual teachings of any people confirms non-greed, non-hate, and non-delusion then the teachings will lead to well-being and happiness.
The Buddha states that when a noble disciple understands these things, and surrounded by lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity; one purifies oneself and avoids evil-induced consequences, and lives a happy life, the person will also bestowed with future karmic rebirth.
Dighajanu Sutta: this sutra mentions the conservation between Dighajanu and the Buddha. The Dighajanu request the Buddha that the lay people should learn dhamma and the teaching should be from the blessed one for the happiness and wellbeing in this life and also for the future life.
In the similar circumstances experienced by the Buddha, as mentioned in Anana Sutra, he identifies four sources that leads to well-being and happiness in the current life. These sources are productive efforts, protective efforts, virtuous friendship, and even-headed living, abstaining from womanizing, drunkenness, gambling and evil friendships.
The Buddha also shares the sources that should be acquired to pertain in the future life. These sources are faith in the fully enlightened Buddha, virtue, generosity, and wisdom.
Metta practice: as mentioned in the Kalama Sutra, the Buddha shares that the practice of the four divine abodes leads to well-being and happiness. Among the four, the first one is Metta or benevolence. The Metta means the desire to bring about the well-being and happiness. Thus, in Buddhism, to pray and work for other's general happiness also leads to the development of one's own happiness.
Hence, Sukha has the state of wellbeing and happiness. It can be achieved through rigorous practice and self-management avoiding negative feelings. Not only this the person will also able to achieve sukha by focusing wellbeing and happiness of others along with one's happiness.
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