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On Suffering


JosephM
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I thought it good to share some of Eckhart Tolle's words on suffering here first... and then to clarify some things it appears wayfarer2k has misunderstood of words I have written and seems to think are in opposition to Christianity.

 

We would not evolve as human beings and would remain shallow, identified with the external form of things if it were not for suffering. (not exact words) Now using word for word " Suffering drives you deeper. The paradox is that suffering is caused by identification with form. Alot of it is caused by the ego, although eventually suffering destroys the ego -- but not until you suffer consciously. Humanity is destined to go beyond suffering, but not in the way the ego thinks. "

 

(Joseph says) Suffering is in the world and you are in the world but YOU are not of the world. When you have an identity shift to your true being, (enter the kingdom that is here now), a new creature seems to emerge. As the old one dies, personal suffering for ones self dies with it. Nothing changes to the eyes or senses yet the essence of suffering has no root with your identity, only with your life situation. It is the transcending of suffering and death loses its sting. In essence, there can be no suffering when you are dead even though you still walk this earth. To be dead to self yet alive in Christ is to suffer no more. That is what seems to me to be everyone's inheritance in Christ. The paradox is it is realized through suffering.

 

Love Joseph

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I agree, when we lose the inner communion with all that there is, we are thrown out to endure the pain and suffering of the external world until once again we return to inner peace.

 

We are "thrown out" to do something about pain and suffering. God "threw us out there" in the Garden of Eden story.

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I will have "inner peace" when my brothers and sisters have "inner peace". NOT before.

 

Hi Minsocal,

 

Noble sounding words perhaps, yet it seems to me it would be of more benefit to have "inner peace" first so that you might 'see' properly to help your brothers and sisters. Just something to consider.

 

Love Joseph

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A person with peace doesn't have to say a word and doesn't lose touch with humanity. The peace experienced can be felt through the touch of a hand, a friendly smile, a kind look or a heartfelt compliment. I agree we should help one another with big projects too, but they also need a peaceful energy.

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Hi Minsocal,

 

Noble sounding words perhaps, yet it seems to me it would be of more benefit to have "inner peace" first so that you might 'see' properly to help your brothers and sisters. Just something to consider.

 

Love Joseph

 

"com" (with), "passion" ... with mutual passion. "com" (with) "munity" ... with mutual desire. Did Jesus have no passion for justice? Did Jesus have no passion for community?

Edited by minsocal
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"com" (with), "passion" ... with mutual passion. "com" (with) "munity" ... with mutual desire. Did Jesus have no passion for justice? Did Jesus have no passion for community?

 

I'm sorry Minsocal, I guess I don't understand how your response relates to my post you referenced.

My dictionary

com·pas·sion (km-pshn)

n.

Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

 

It seems to me awareness doesn't preclude inner peace. In fact it seems to me that inner peace is a requirement for true compassion. Perhaps you are speaking of empathy? Nevertheless, I have failed to understand your post. Perhaps you can clarify for me how this relates to "inner peace".

 

Love Joseph

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I'm sorry Minsocal, I guess I don't understand how your response relates to my post you referenced.

My dictionary

com·pas·sion (km-pshn)

n.

Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

 

It seems to me awareness doesn't preclude inner peace. In fact it seems to me that inner peace is a requirement for true compassion. Perhaps you are speaking of empathy? Nevertheless, I have failed to understand your post. Perhaps you can clarify for me how this relates to "inner peace".

 

Love Joseph

 

There are idividual differences to consider. That said, "awareness" is "to feel as" for some. This is what emotion gives us in the feeling mode, but not in the thinking mode. To preclude any mode by which compassion "does it's job" seems nonsense to me. In other words, if there be different routes to compassion, is there a "right" one? Or does the result matter more than the means? By the way, "passion" is the old word for emotion, e ... motion ... an acting upon. Viseral, gut reaction ... palpable and real. "Peace", for me has meant to feel my emotions and not avoid them. Ponder if you will.

Edited by minsocal
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There are idividual differences to consider. That said, "awareness" is "to feel as" for some. This is what emotion gives us in the feeling mode, but not in the thinking mode. To preclude any mode by which compassion "does it's job" seems nonsense to me. In other words, if there be different routes to compassion, is there a "right" one? Or does the result matter more than the means? By the way, "passion" is the old word for emotion, e ... motion ... an acting upon. Viseral, gut reaction ... palpable and real. "Peace", for me has meant to feel my emotions and not avoid them. Ponder if you will.

 

Ok, if that is what awareness means to you. I was under the understanding that awareness was having knowledge or cognizance or being mindful and is not an emotion or feeling. But thanks for your clarification of your thinking as I now can better understand where you are coming from. I have pondered what "Peace" means to you and though it doesn't seem to fit the standard definition of peace, you have clarified your response to my satisfaction. Thanks.

 

Love Joseph

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Take, for example, the proposition "we are made to suffer". This proposition is true, but incomplete. It requires a network of other propositions to obtain its "satisfaction". To follow the teachings of Jesus, it requires an extension. We are made to suffer so that we "know" suffering" and are thus motivated (by desire) to reduce the suffering of others. Epistemology fails when it does not recognize desires. Epistemology is nothing unless it takes the next step into action, and "desire" is the only means to do so. Without desires, nothing, nothing, will change in the real world. A world of pure "knowledge" will produce nothing in the order of change. Pure knowledge is more static (synchronic) than diachronic. It does not make any difference whether your view of humankind is as failed after creation, or as yet incomplete. We are not going backward. Not unless we give up consciousness. That, "aint't going to happen". We are Human, we are not God.

Edited by minsocal
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To this, I will now add an example:

 

It concerns a person I encountered 15 years ago. It was a brutal hot day in Southern California. Between classes at the local university, I walked to a nearby convenience store to buy some bottled water. Outside the store, there was a man about 30 or so years old holding a cup in front of him. Some people ignored him, some dropped change in his cup as they left. When I returned to my car I thought "gee ... I should leave him something". Something ... from somewhere hit me. He was not asking for money, he needed water! It turned out that he was a schizophernic who had been "turned out" of long term care after taking his "meds". But, these people do not like taking their "meds", the effects can be worse than the "disorder". He had stopped taking his "meds" and was dehyrdrated: asking only for water, not money, without the capacity to get up and buy the water for himself. He was that far disabled. To this day, I do not know exactly what made me stop ... but the look in his eyes I will not forget, not for a long time.

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I now add yet another example. Not from any theological perspective. But, from bare, hard core fact. THIS is Christianity where I live ... cold and brutal. Not many years ago, my church took up the plight of farm workers for a locally based business. These people worked all their lives and had NOTHING at retirement. No health insurance ... NOTHING. So, my demomination decided to boycott this business, and they eventually won. But, in the interim, you should know this. The local police broke up a legal demonstration DURING COMMUNION being served ... because ... an elderly participant fell faint and ... stepped on the grass of the company in question. Live in a make-believe world if you must. THIS is real.

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  • 4 months later...
Hi Minsocal,

 

Noble sounding words perhaps, yet it seems to me it would be of more benefit to have "inner peace" first so that you might 'see' properly to help your brothers and sisters. Just something to consider.

 

Love Joseph

 

Perhaps, but is it better to try to achieve inner peace first, and then work for "outer peace" around you - or the other way around? I do not think either approach is wrong, as long as both the inner and the outer peaces are worked toward - but I do think the latter is more practical (since working for outer peace generally promotes inner peace, but not necessarily vice versa), and perhaps more ethical, which is I think what minsocal was driving at. Many of the great peacemakers did not have total inner peace...take Mother Teresa, for example.

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It seems to me that the outer is always a reflection of the inner and not the other way around but that is only my view.

 

Love Joseph

 

It turns out to be both ways. C. G. Jung broke with Freud in 1913 over this very issue. He stated that it would be a long time before we developed an ethical position that could accommodate both. You seem to speak as an introvert. For an extravert, it is the other way around. The middle ground view holds that most people are both. So we really have a complex problem here.

 

For some, inner peace is gained from their actions in the external world. For others, they must achieve inner peace before acting in the outer world. And for some, growth occurs interactively as they switch between modes, as in yin-yang.

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I feel suffering helps us in sin to see the hideous repulsion it causes. Suffering aids in seeing the real value of our lives in the world and in ourselves. When I have a bad habit or sin I wish to cease, I try to witness my mind before, during and after the act. If I witness it causing pain in others or even in my own mind then the desire is diminished. It takes time, but soon the desire is eliminated. To witness pain in the external world is the same sin magnified many times over and takes the same witness for me to decide the best avenue of action to stop it.

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If I suffer, is it because I have seen another suffer first? Or is it because I have first suffered and see another who suffers? Or, is it both? It gets complex.

 

1. I suffer because I have been harmed.

 

2. I suffer because I have harmed others.

 

3. I suffer because I have harmed others who harmed me.

 

4. I suffer because those I have harmed have retaliated.

 

This I think is not what Jesus had in mind. The motto of (some) doctors is "do no harm". This is an ancient prescription. But, if we change one word, "harm" to "care", we have a very different scenario. Just work out the appraisals:

 

1. I suffer because I have not done care ... and so on.

 

I have heard, so many times, that the most common prescription in the Bible is "feed the poor". THAT is doing care. That heads off suffering. It is now called preventive medicine, another name for an old concept.

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  • 4 months later...

It seems that this thread got a little off track from my original intentions, so I thought I would resurrect it to see if anyone had anything to add that might help someone else in regard to suffering they may be going through.

 

It seems to me that we can best understand how to help alleviate suffering in others by understanding in ourselves what suffering really is. My dictionary has multiple meanings for suffering.  

 

suffering - a state of acute pain

suffering - misery resulting from affliction

suffering - psychological suffering;

suffering - feelings of mental or physical pain

suffering - troubled by pain or loss;suffering - very unhappy; full of misery

 

Pain, on the other hand has a simpler and more specific definition.

 

PAIN - An unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as a consequence of injury, disease, or emotional disorder.

 

What is at the core of suffering that differentiates it from pain? To me it appears that suffering is actually a state of passion whereas pain is merely a sensation. While pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation, that in my view would not be totally accurate to all as there are those who find what we call pain, not unpleasant and may even consider it pleasant. Such is the case I would think with the masochist. Yet, it still is a sensation. It is the mind that determines whether it is deemed pleasant or unpleasant.

 

Pain seems inevitable during a lifetime. Everyone experiences pain. It is when pain is resisted that suffering begins because in resistance passion results as non-acceptance or conflict of what is. This bringing on feelings of unhappiness, misery or troubled thoughts, Suffering seems to me, to be magnified in proportion to our identification with the ego self.

 

The obvious solution to suffering would be to remove the pain. That would eliminate associated resistance. In the case of hunger, or a tooth ache, broken bones, etc., this is relatively easy to do with proper action or treatment. In cases where the cause of the pain cannot be removed or diminished, one has a choice. One can either continue to resist the pain and suffer or one can choose to accept the pain and release the suffering. In essence this is a surrendering to what is and though the pain may remain, the mind makes no judgement as to whether it should or shouldn't be and conflict and suffering dissolves. This to me is transcending suffering which is actually a shift in identification from form to formless. The paradox is that only through suffering does one pass through to transcend it.

 

Can there be an end to ones personal suffering here on earth? Is there really a present kingdom here now whereby those who enter can transcend suffering? Or is it just a future promise of a religious system? What do you think?

 

Joseph

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