"Sukha" is a Sanskrit and Pāli word that is often translated as “happiness" or "ease" or "pleasure" or "bliss." [For instance, in terms of this word's nounal form, dictionaries provide the following:
* Monier-Williams (1964), pp. 1220-1, entry for "Sukhá" (cf. p. 1221 retrieved from, translates this Sanskrit word as "ease, easiness, comfort, prosperity, pleasure, happiness, joy, delight in";
* Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-5), p. 716, entry for "Sukha" (retrieved from, primarily translate this Pali word as "wellbeing, happiness, ease"; and,
* Nyanatiloka (1980) (retrieved from translates the Pali word as "happiness, pleasure, joy, bliss."In terms of contemporary translators, examples include:
* Bhikkhu Bodhi (1980; 2005) translates it as "happiness."
* ÑāIAST|ṇamoli (1999, pp. 98, 897, "passim") translates it as "bliss" and "pleasure." Perhaps uniquely, he translates "pīti" as "happiness" (p. 892) or, more specifically, "pervading (rapturous) happiness" (p. 142).
* Thanissaro Bhikkhu translates it as "happiness" (Thanissaro, 1994; 1995), "bliss" (Thanissaro, 1997a), and "pleasure" (Thanissaro, 1997b; 1997c).
* Maurice Walshe (1985) translates it as "happiness."
] [The Tibetan equivalent of "sukha" is "".] In Buddhism's Pali literature, the term is used in the context of describing laic pursuits, meditative absorptions and intra-psychic phenomena.


According to Monier-Williams (1964), the etymology of "sukha" is "said to be "su" ["good"] + "kha" ["aperture"] and to mean originally 'having a good axle-hole'...." Thus, for instance, in the Rig Veda "sukha" denotes "running swiftly or easily" (applied, e.g., to chariots). "Sukha" is juxtaposed with "duIAST|ḥkha" (Sanskrit; Pali: "dukkha"; often translated as "suffering"), the "raison d'être" of early Buddhism. [Monier-Williams (1964), p. 1220, entry for "Sukhá" (retrieved from Square-bracketed words ("good" and "aperture") are based on Monier-Williams, pp. 334, 1219.] [Regarding the relationship between "sukha" and "dukkha", Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-5), p. 716, entry for "Sukha" (retrieved from, simply identifes that "dukkha" is one of the antonyms of "sukha" (along with "asukha") and, in such contexts, is sometimes spelled "dukha".]

Pali literature

In Buddhism's Pali canon and related literature, the term is used in a general sense to refer to "well-being and happiness" ("hita-sukha") in either this present life or future lives. In addition, it is a technical term associated with describing a factor of meditative absorption ("jhāna") and a sensory-derived feeling ("vedanā").

General life pursuit

In the Pali Canon, the Buddha discusses with different lay persons "well-being and happiness" ("hita-sukha") "visible in this present life" ("diIAST|ṭṭha-dhamma") and "pertaining to the future life" ("samparāyika"), as exemplified by the following canonical discourses ("sutta"). [See Bodhi (2005), pp. 3-4, "passim".]

Anana Sutta

In the "AnaIAST|ṇa Sutta" (AN 4.62), the Buddha describes four types of happiness for a "householder partaking of sensuality" ("gihinā kāma-bhoginā"):
* the happiness of earning ("atthi-sukha") wealth
* the happiness of using ("bhoga-sukha") wealth
* the happiness of debtlessness ("anaIAST|ṇa-sukha")
* the happiness of blamelessness ("anavajja-sukha"), of being blameless in body, speech and mindOf these, the wise ("sumedhaso") know that the happiness of blamelessness is by far the greatest householder happiness. [Bodhi (2005), pp. 127-8; and, [ Thanissaro (1997a).] Pali is based on the Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project (SLTP) edition, retrieved 2008-05-08 from "MettaNet" at Bodhi's translation omits the last verse (which praises happiness of blamelessness) which can be found in both Thanissaro's translation and the SLTP.]

Kalama Sutta

In the "Kālāmā Sutta" (AN 3.65), townspeople ask the Buddha how they are to ascertain which spiritual teaching is true. The Buddha counsels that one should "enter and dwell" ("upasampajja vihareyyātha") in "things" or "qualities" ("dhammā") that are:
* skillful ("kusalā"),
* blameless ("anavajjā"),
* praised by the wise ("viññuppasatthā"), and
* when put into practice, are conducive to well-being and happiness ("samattā samādinnā hitāya sukhāya" [Note that here, as elsewhere, through textual parallelism, "sukha" ("happiness") is used as the opposite of "dukkha" ("suffering").] " saIAST|ṃvattantī")Using the latter criterion, the Buddha then asks the townspeople to assess greed ("lobha"), hate ("dosa") and delusion ("moha") whereby it is agreed that entering and dwelling in non-greed, non-hate and non-delusion lead to well-being and happiness. The Buddha states that, given this understanding, a noble disciple ("ariyasāvako") [Note that "noble discples" ("ariyasāvako") include laypeople. See "Śrāvaka."] pervades all directions with lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity (see the four "brahmaviharas"); and, by doing so, one purifies oneself, avoids evil-induced consequences, lives a happy present life and, if there is a future karmic rebirth, one will be born in a heavenly world. [Bodhi (2005), pp. 88-91; and, [ Thanissaro (1994).] Pali is based on the SLTP tipitaka retrieved 2008-05-08 from "MettaNet" at Regarding greed, hate and delusion, see "kilesa". Regarding the heavenly destinations of brahmavihara dwellers, see AN 4.125 [ (Thanissaro, 2006).] ]

Dighajanu Sutta

In the "Dighajānu Sutta" (AN 8.54), Dighajānu approaches the Buddha and states::"We are lay people enjoying sensuality; living crowded with spouses & children; using Kasi fabrics & sandalwood; wearing garlands, scents, & creams; handling gold & silver. May the Blessed One teach the Dhamma for those like us, for our happiness & well-being in this life, for our happiness & well-being in lives to come." [ [ Thanissaro (1995).] ] In a manner somewhat similar to his exposition in the aforementioned "AnaIAST|ṇa Sutta", the Buddha identifies four sources that lead to well-being and happiness in the current life:
* productive efforts ("uIAST|ṭṭhāna-sampadā") in one's livelihood,
* protective efforts ("ārakkha-sampadā") regarding ones wealth in terms of possible theft or disaster,
* virtuous friendship ("kalyāIAST|ṇa-mittatā"), and
* even-headed living ("sama-jīvikatā"), abstaining from womanizing, drunkenness, gambling and evil friendships. In terms of well-being and happiness in the next life, the Buddha identifies the following sources:
* faith ("saddhā") in the fully enlightened Buddha;
* virtue ("sīla"), as exemplified by the Five Precepts;
* generosity ("cāga"), giving charity and alms; and,
* wisdom ("paññā"), having insight into the arising and passing of things. [Bodhi (2005), pp. 124-6; and, [ Thanissaro (1995).] ]

Mettā practice

As indicated above, in the "Kālāmā Sutta", the Buddha identifies the practice of the four divine abodes ("brahmavihara") as being conducive to "one's own" well-being and happiness. The first of these abodes is lovingkindness ("mettā") which is, for instance, classically expressed in the Pali canon's "Karaniya Mettā Sutta" (Sn 1.8) by the pithy wish (in English and Pali):

May all beings be at ease! [ [ Amaravati Sangha (2004).] ] "Sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā."

Similarly, the Pali commentaries (SN-A 128) explicitly define "mettā" as "the desire to bring about the well-being and happiness [of others] " ("hita-sukha-upanaya-kāmatā") [Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-5), p. 197, entry for "KaruIAST|ṇā," retrieved at] Thus, in Buddhism, to dwell wishing for others' general happiness is conducive to the development of one's own happiness.

Absorption factor

In Buddhist meditation, the development of concentrative absorption (Sanskrit: "dhyāna"; Pali: "jhāna") is canonically described in terms of the following five factors:
* applied thought ("vitakka")
* sustained thought ("vicāra")
* joy/rapture/happiness ("pīti")
* happiness/pleasure/bliss ("sukha")
* equanimity ("upekkhā") [See, for instance, "SamādhaIAST|ṅga Sutta" (a/k/a, "PañcaIAST|ṅgikasamādhi Sutta", AN 5.28) [ (Thanissaro, 1997b).] ]

As illustrated in Table 1, both "pīti" and "sukha" are born of bodily seclusion and mental quietude. The 5th c. CE "Visuddhimagga" distinguishes between "pīti" and "sukha" in the following experiential manner::And wherever the two are associated, happiness [here, ÑāIAST|ṇamoli's translation of "pīti"] is the contentedness at getting a desirable object, and bliss ["sukha"] is the actual experiencing of it when got. Where there is happiness ["pīti"] there is bliss (pleasure) ["sukha"] ; but where there is bliss ["sukha"] there is not necessarily happiness ["pīti"] . Happiness is included in the formations aggregate; bliss is included in the feeling aggregate. If a man exhausted in a desert saw or heard about a pond on the edge of a wood, he would have happiness; if he went into the wood's shade and used the water, he would have bliss.... [Vsm. IV, 100 (ÑāIAST|ṇamoli, 1999, p. 142). Similarly, see also the Abhidhamma's commentary, "Atthasalini" [ (Bodhi, 1980).] ]

Providing a bare-bones conditional chain of events that overlaps the above more narrative exposition, the "Upanisa Sutta" (SN 12.23) states that "sukha" arises from tranquillity ("passaddhi") of the body and mind, and in turn gives rise to concentration ("samādhi"). [ [ Bodhi (1980)] and [ Thanissaro (1997c).] ] Citing traditional post-canonical Pali literature related to this discourse, Bodhi (1980) adds the following functional definition of "sukha"::The subcommentary to the "Upanisa Sutta" explains "sukha" as the happiness of the access to absorption. The term 'access' (upacara) denotes the stage in the cultivation of serenity immediately preceding full absorption, the intended goal of serenity meditation. Access is characterized by the abandonment of the five hindrances and the arising of the 'counterpart sign,' the self-luminous object of interior perception which is the focal point for the higher stages of concentration.

Feeling attribute

In the Buddhist frameworks of the five aggregates (Sanskrit: "skandha"; Pali: "khandha") and dependent origination (Sanskrit: "pratītyasamutpāda"; Pali: paticcasamuppāda), "feelings" or "sensations" ("vedanā") arise from the contact of an external object (such as a visual object or sound) with a sensory organ (such as the eye or ear) and consciousness. In the Pali Canon, such feelings are generally described to be of one of three types: pleasant ("sukha"), unpleasant ("dukkha"), or neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant ("adukkha-asukha"). [See, for instance, "Datthabba Sutta" (SN 36.5; [ Nyanaponika, 1983)] and "Chachakka Sutta" (MN 148; [ Thanissaro, 1998).] ]

ee also

* Brahmavihara (divine abodes: lovingkindess, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity)
* Dependent Origination
* Dhyāna (absorption)
* Dukkha (suffering)
* Householder (Buddhism)
* Kilesa (defilements, such as greed, hate and delusion)
* Skandha (aggregate)
* Vedanā (feeling)



* Amaravati Sangha (trans.) (1994, 2004). "Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha's Words on Loving-Kindness" from "Chanting Book: Morning and Evening Puja and Reflections" (1994). Hemel Hempstead: Amaravati Publications. Retrieved 2008-05-10 from "Access to Insight" (2004) at

* Bodhi, Bhikkhu (1980). "Transcendental Dependent Arising: A Translation and Exposition of the Upanisa Sutta" (Wheel No. 277/278). Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Access to Insight" (1995) at

* Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2005). "In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon". Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-491-1.

* ÑāIAST|ṇamoli, Bhikkhu (trans.) (1999). "The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga". Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.

* Monier-Williams, Monier (1899, 1964). "A Sanskrit-English Dictionary". London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-864308-X. Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Cologne University" at

* Nyanaponika Thera (trans.) (1983). "Datthabba Sutta: To Be Known" (SN 36.5). Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Access to Insight" at:

* Nyanatiloka Mahathera (1952, 1980). "Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines." Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 955-24-0019-8. Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "BuddhaSasana" at

* Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). "The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English Dictionary". Chipstead: Pali Text Society. Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "U. Chicago" at

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1994). "Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas" (AN 3.65). Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Access to Insight" at

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1995). "Dighajanu (Vyagghapajja) Sutta: To Dighajanu" (AN 8.54). Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Access to Insight" at

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997a). "Anana Sutta: Debtless" (AN 4.62). Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Access to Insight" at

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997b). "Samadhanga Sutta: The Factors of Concentration" (AN 5.28). Retrieved 2008-05-09 from "Access to Insight" at

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997c). "Upanisa Sutta: Prerequisites" (SN 12.23). Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Access to Insight" at

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998). "Chachakka Sutta: The Six Sextets" (MN 148). Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Access to Insight" at

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (2006). "Metta Sutta: Good Will (1)" (AN 4.125). Retrieved 2008-05-10 from "Access to Insight" at

* Walshe, Maurice O'Connell (1985). "Upanisaa Sutta: Upanisaa (excerpt)" (SN 12.23) from "Samyutta Nikaya: An Anthology (Wheel No. 318-321)". Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. Retrieved from "Access to Insight" (2007) at

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