Fractal dukkha

I’ve been looking a little at the recursive fractal structures of the Dhamma. I came across a widget offered by Stanford that generates words that spell themselves. Here’s the word dukkha used to spell itself. It’s true on oh so many levels!


4 thoughts on “Fractal dukkha

  1. You should expound on this theme, it’d make a good article. If you say that dukkha has a fractal nature, you’re saying it has a certain structure.. how does this structure form itself? How does one deconstruct this structure? How is it [if at all] related to ignorance?

    • Well, it does bera a longer discussion, perhaps in the future. But in brief, yes, dukkha may be seen at the tiniest or the largest levels of structure in the Universe, just as impermanence, conditionality, and so on. This fractal pattern of Dhamma as reality is mirrored in the fractal pattern of the Dhamma as teaching.

      The relation to ignorance is an interesting question. It occurs to me that we often seek to escape suffering by shifting “levels”: for example, if we have an accident, we say, “Well, life is full of ups and downs”. Taking it out of the immediate situation, and putting it in the larger scope, we alleviate the immediate suffering. But this is ultimately ignorance, because the suffering of life as a whole is no less than that in any moment.

    • I think instead of ‘fractal’ with regard to the Dhamma you should be using ‘holonic,’ though I could be wrong as I am no philosopher. That is, instead of emphasizing self-similarity at different levels of analysis of the Dhamma as a teaching, we should be seeing that parts of the Dhamma are representative of it as a whole, much like individual shards of a shattered hologram have information representing the entire original image. So, if you ‘shattered’ the Sutta Pitaka, you can still ‘recover’ or ‘unpack’ the entire teaching from a few bits of it. I think this principle is why we get such a sense of conviction of authenticity when reading the early canon– by reading a few suttas, we create expectations of ‘real’ Dhamma teachings, which, when confirmed, we intuitively judge as authentic.

    • Hi Mark,

      I’m not exactly sure of the difference between the two; although perhaps it is that smaller fragments of fractals keep just as much detail as larger scales, whereas with holons the shape remains the same but the detail or resolution diminishes. The Dhamma could be looked at both ways, I guess.

      Interesting point about expectations; I need to think about this some more.

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