blogging, Philosophy

Suffering

Everyone wants to avoid it and minimise it where possible.

Suffering.

Photo by Thiago Matos on Pexels.com

Suffering and moments of sadness may be part of life and our own journey. Some people experience much more suffering and sadness than others.

For there is no equity in suffering.

How best to deal with these lingering difficulties?

According to Buddha: No attachment equals no suffering. Does this knowledge help us process suffering or sadness?

Yes and No.

If the suffering pertains to a family member or their situation, detaching from them is not possible, at least emotionally.

Marlane suggests nothing will ever fade from our thoughts until we have learnt what we need to know. In other words, suffering never goes away from our minds until we learn from it. Then suffering dissolves. If we accept the outcome, however uncomfortable, the suffering lessens.

Suffering ceases when we accept what is and begin to work with it. Suffering teaches us what we need to know. www.marlaneainsworth.com

Eliminating suffering does not mean we won’t feel sad. Sadness may linger, but in broad acceptance of a situation or person’s outcome, we do not actively rail against it, dissect it, and contemplate how unfair or unjust it may or may not be.

Those, “if only I had …..” moments inadvertently prolong suffering.

When there is no solution, and action is impossible, acceptance and forgiveness can provide a way forward to address suffering for many of us. Easy to say but harder to absorb.

The reality of life is that everything is temporary.

beach storm

A wise Norwegian saying states:

“Everything passes, like bad weather.”

Somerset Maugham realised this:

Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it ~ Somerset Maugham

Whilst many of us might resent ‘change,’ for making happy times transitory, change can also move us and the earth forward from more difficult times to hopefully more promising times.

Wisdoms on the Nature of Suffering

50 thoughts on “Suffering”

    1. You are so right, Margaret. Suffering might come in waves, in fits and starts, harder to manage and rangle. Just when you think you are on top of things, a flashback or trigger can knock someone for six. Is that what you meant, Margaret?

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Amanda, good post. Unfortunately suffering is a fact of life. It will happen to each of us, primarily because our bodies will give out and die. So, will the bodies of those we love. We will also have heartaches and medical needs throughout our lives as we are all imperfect people. So, we will never end suffering. We must manage through it. And, we must recognize suffering will linger on and grow feinter, but never quite go away.

    My wife was very close to her younger brother who died from leukemia when he was only 21. He was a very good guitarist and played in a band at college. For the first ten years of our marriage, if a certain song came on the radio, my wife would still grieve, as she remembered how he played it so often. She will get melancholy now as it has been forty years since he pass, but she won’t grieve like she used to.

    Of course, it hurts. But, the hurt will diminish, even though it will not completely go away. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Keith, your comment suggesting suffering and how the wound closes up, but some part of the scar always remains, rings true to me. I guess this post was a way for me to process whether a person can move on completely and how this might be done. I don’t wish to eliminate the memory totally but when that painful memory revisits, I don’t want it to be so painful as to intrude upon a person’s functionality. Management of these emotional memories is a challenge. Recognising that slow progression of the stages of acceptance, as well as recognising that sometimes we might see two steps forward, one step back, in our ability to cope is also a challenge as is acceptance of the river-delta-like nature of the suffering process. As I quoted in an earlier post: “You cannot prevent the birds of sadness passing over your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest of your hair.”
      Native American Proverb

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Suffering…sadness, bereavement, broken hearts…is one of life’s lessons, something from which we have to learn. Maybe the best lesson to learn is not to pretend that it has made us stronger, but to learn to appreciate what makes us lucky in life, what we have that brings us joy. And learn to live for the moment. Those are some of life’s most valuable lessons.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pretending to be strong is not a wise strategy in the long term, at least in my experience. Like a concrete pillar that has not the right combination of reinforcing, sand and cement, it will inevitably crumble, falling without warning on some unsuspecting fellow. Instead, your advice to concentrate on the things that bring you joy, a kind of distracted optimism, sounds like a more promising strategy that buys a person time to process the suffering.
      Living in the moment is the best challenge for all of us in any circumstance. If our minds are situated, “in the moment,” the surrounding colours become so much richer, people become much more interesting and nature more vibrant! Do you agree?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I do. Personally I feel very lucky, my life has not by any means been blighted by tragedy and Michaela and I have both enjoyed good health pretty much all our lives. And it definitely makes life better if you are always conscious of the good things.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Does everyone have to suffer, you ask. A good question. My answer is: certainly not and many don’t suffer at all. It is a matter of luck, I think, in most cases. But for those unlucky souls, this might be a way forward for them – away from a mind or memory that lives in torturous playback.

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        1. I am glad to hear you watch subtitled Norsk programs, Kerry. These latter years it is all I watch but many Australian refuse to watch subtitled shows. I hadn’t noticed the Scandi pragmatism, but will look for it now. Perhaps the Scandi genes run strong in me and I think it is normal! Haha!
          The Norwegians raided Scotland so often the accents might have a touch of each in them. Some of the Scottish accents are so broad, I find them difficult to understand!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Americans used to hate subtitles too but Netflix and the Pandemic changed that. Ethnically, I am half Irish/half Mexican American but just grew up in Scotland, hence the accent. Most Icelanders have Irish DNA because the Vikings took the Irish there as slaves. My family come from Sligo – once a Viking settlement. My accent is muted after so many years abroad but still noticeably Celtic.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. You are right about the Icelanders having Irish DNA. I have a small percentage of Inuit DnA presumably from a Viking slave from Greenland!
              Regarding accents I sometimes hear Irish inflections amongst Norwegians when they are speaking English and I put that down to having an Irish high school English teachers!

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never been able to completely wrap my mind around the Buddhist concept of attachment. But in my loose, borrowing from many cultures philosophy, I can let go of some concepts I’m not ready for. The concept of impermanence however, is one I try to keep with me. I like your post and I find it interesting that old Norwegian sayings are much like old Buddhist teaching.

    “Stay present, rain or shine. Your feelings will come and go like the weather.”

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    1. It is interesting that the old Norwegian and Buddhist teachings have similar concepts. Perhaps we might find this in many older cultures? For these life lessons are valuable to pass on to future generations with the intention to teach them something and hopefully save them trouble where possible. The older peoples of the world lived and relied far more on being in tune with nature, so weather would have been a greater focus for them, perhaps?
      Staying in the moment seems to be a universal desire that we can all benefit from. It is harder to do especially if you are an optimist looking to the future, or more reflective, seeking to learn from analysing the past.
      I guess we could say living in the moment is a work in progress? Right?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very well said. Staying in the moment is hard for me. An old teacher of mine used to tell me, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” Quieting my mind, letting go of worries about the future and emotions about the past, just being still remains, as you say, a work in progress.

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        1. Such a contrasting recommendation from your old teacher to not just do something than what the mainstream suggests! Because many will suggest that you just sit there! Did his suggestion work any better ?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’ll explain a little. I was in the process of learning Zazen meditation. You know in most meditations you are using imagery or a mantra or focusing on your breath? In Zazen you are letting go of all of that, clearing your mind – sitting still. There’s even a special pillow thing if you get that far. I struggled with thoughts and losing the stillness? So you’re supposed to let thoughts come in and go out. Eventually, I got too frustrated with this form, I find active meditation like yoga or tai chi where I’m focused on movement easier. I had hoped to try Zazen again but that was right at the same time I was injured and hospitalized for 6 months. Too many things clutter this brain of mine and I can’t physically do tai chi, which I really liked, and I can’t seem to focus enough for sitting forms of meditation. But I always liked the advice to not just do something, sit there. As you say, it’s generally the opposite of what people suggest.

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  4. I had a yoga teacher who often said “clinging leads to suffering.” She was talking about not overdoing it in your asanas, don’t cling to the idea you must be perfect, but it also applies to real life too.

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    1. Clinging leading to suffering? Yes, Ally, I can see that striving to hold postures too long or too strongly could definitely lead to pain and suffering. Coincidentally, one of my yoga teachers recently said she saw the greatest benefits, from yoga poses, when she dropped to 80% of effort, instead of 100%. I think of Bikram yoga and their hard-core “push your body,” mentality. Lots of suffering there. However, your teacher’s comment also makes me think about attachment. Clinging as a form of attachment. Attachment in the Buddhist sense leading to suffering. There is always a high price to pay for attachment to perfection.

      Liked by 1 person

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