Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Can philosophers help resolve the real problems that people have in their lives?

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Arising_uk
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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Arising_uk » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:30 am

Skip wrote:And I will be interested to hear your advice to young persons, right after you've done 5 years of material suffering
:lol:

"The long, dark teatime of the soul" :)

I'm getting to like you Skip.

Felasco
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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Felasco » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:38 pm

Suffering might be good, if it inspires us to look more deeply in to what suffering is. You know, like a good whack on the head that helps nudge us out of the usual status quo mediocrity.

On the other hand, all this grasping for transcendence and so on, a little bit goes a long way.

Perhaps this forum could serve as an example. It's ok to spend 2 hours trying to write the very best post we can, challenging ourselves etc. But if when it's done it turns out that the post actually sucks and nobody likes it, oh well, a shrug and a smile are the best remedy.

Suffering is an argument with what is. A fun argument is good, a deadly serious argument, not so much.

Skip
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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Skip » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:25 pm

Of course, Wandering Lands didn't just fail to define suffering. He never explained what's "good", how 'good for you' differs from 'desirable' or even from 'bad'. By what criteria can we tell good and bad apart; how do we distinguish common human aspirations from spiritual ones? Most importantly, why it's good to do so.

Has suffering always been good, or did it become good at some definite time? Is the good-for-you-ness of suffering a universal phenomenon or a strictly human one, or peculiar to modern civilization? Most significantly, if suffering has always been a good, why is it - and how did it come about - that all organisms on this planet, from the beginning of prehistory, have tried to avoid it? When and how did we learn that all living things had got their values backwards?
And how, so late in evolution, are we to reverse this hard-wired response?

Yes, I get that you have a hole in your psychic gut. I get that most imaginative youth do, at some point. The scientifically inclined fill it with knowledge about the cosmos or zinc or bacteria; the literary scribble it out of their system; the romantic fall in love a few dozen times; the industrious build things and grow stuff; the political rally and organize it away; tree-huggers release it into the wild. Why/how is the yogi solution better than any of these?


(Arising UK - you just like the nod at Douglas Adams, 'coz he's one of your own. One of the best, I'll grant.)

Blaggard
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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Blaggard » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:38 pm

Felasco wrote:
Perhaps this forum could serve as an example. It's ok to spend 2 hours trying to write the very best post we can, challenging ourselves etc. But if when it's done it turns out that the post actually sucks and nobody likes it, oh well, a shrug and a smile are the best remedy.
Two hours, 5 minutes mate at most. That said I take your points. :)
(Arising UK - you just like the nod at Douglas Adams, 'coz he's one of your own. One of the best, I'll grant.)
Incidentally The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul is a great book I heartily recommend it along side Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

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WanderingLands
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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by WanderingLands » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:52 pm

Skip wrote:Of course, Wandering Lands didn't just fail to define suffering. He never explained what's "good", how 'good for you' differs from 'desirable' or even from 'bad'. By what criteria can we tell good and bad apart; how do we distinguish common human aspirations from spiritual ones? Most importantly, why it's good to do so.

Has suffering always been good, or did it become good at some definite time? Is the good-for-you-ness of suffering a universal phenomenon or a strictly human one, or peculiar to modern civilization? Most significantly, if suffering has always been a good, why is it - and how did it come about - that all organisms on this planet, from the beginning of prehistory, have tried to avoid it? When and how did we learn that all living things had got their values backwards?
And how, so late in evolution, are we to reverse this hard-wired response?

Yes, I get that you have a hole in your psychic gut. I get that most imaginative youth do, at some point. The scientifically inclined fill it with knowledge about the cosmos or zinc or bacteria; the literary scribble it out of their system; the romantic fall in love a few dozen times; the industrious build things and grow stuff; the political rally and organize it away; tree-huggers release it into the wild. Why/how is the yogi solution better than any of these?


(Arising UK - you just like the nod at Douglas Adams, 'coz he's one of your own. One of the best, I'll grant.)
1. How to counter suffering came about starting when philosophies such as Buddhism, Cynicism, Stoicism, Existentialism, and other forms of aestheticism came about, which did, I believe, help people cope with the whatever type of suffering there it. The numbers have still not really increased in terms of the majority of the world population, but then again most people don't look at philosophy or spirituality for answers.

2. People tend to look at things differently, so some may feel this "good for you ness" in suffering to varying degrees, while others see suffering as terrible and they often feel hopeless of how to overcome it. So it really depends on the perception of people when it comes to that.

3. The reason why people tend to abhor it is because of the amount of weight they feel that they're carrying, and also the fact that the often have no clue of how to cope with and not let it wreck them. People naturally do not want bad luck happening it to them, and yet every individual on this planet (including you and me) just unfortunately end up in that spot.

For me, suffering comes about when people mainly want things, ad they try to reach it and they crave it so much that when they never reach it, they fall into despair. It also has to do with having too much high of expectations, and always thinking that it's easy to do regardless of the difficulties. It's pretty much a recurring thing, so I don't really think that there's an absolute beginning of it, as it happened to different types of people in different periods in our history.

Anyways, the reason why it is good is not because it is desirable, but because it is a test, and an opportunity to try and see if you have the critical thinking skills and the overall strength to cope with, and not let it sow your demise. Once you diminish the emotional reaction of suffering, you can look at it objectively so that thenect time abadfeeling comes along, you'd be able to try and identify it. It is true on the individual scale, as well as the societal scale when it comes to politics and other social issues that we face. This is not to say that you won't go through a demise; just not something that can result in anything serious such as death or some other mishap.

4. People have always knew and have been conscious about the progressing deccadence of civilization and the masses in them, and they've tried to resist and convince others to resist the evermore amounting onslaught of humanity by ill willed men. They've died, and/or have suffered torture and prisons because of this, which are forms of suffering by the way. It was their will power that helped them (at least most) get through this, as even though they've died, many have been awakened by them (take the scientists and the philosophers of the Enlightenment era, for example, or takewhatever figure in any era who have died for their cause).

5. Well first, we would have to go through our own inner darkness, as spiritual growth is never brought into fruition without periods of depression and anxiety. You also can develop close relationships with whatever person you know around, and try to connect with whatever is close to you in orderto build a Social Organism (see my "A Social Organism" post on the Political Philosophy section).

6. What do you ean by "yogi solution"? You mean what I've said about the material world?

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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Blaggard » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:55 pm

Now that was the a post. Your conspiracy theories, well pinch of salt although interesting, but I really think you get it there.

QFT.

For me, suffering comes about when people mainly want things, ad they try to reach it and they crave it so much that when they never reach it, they fall into despair. It also has to do with having too much high of expectations, and always thinking that it's easy to do regardless of the difficulties. It's pretty much a recurring thing, so I don't really think that there's an absolute beginning of it, as it happened to different types of people in different periods in our history.

Anyways, the reason why it is good is not because it is desirable, but because it is a test, and an opportunity to try and see if you have the critical thinking skills and the overall strength to cope with, and not let it sow your demise. Once you diminish the emotional reaction of suffering, you can look at it objectively so that thenect time abadfeeling comes along, you'd be able to try and identify it. It is true on the individual scale, as well as the societal scale when it comes to politics and other social issues that we face. This is not to say that you won't go through a demise; just not something that can result in anything serious such as death or some other mishap.

4. People have always knew and have been conscious about the progressing deccadence of civilization and the masses in them, and they've tried to resist and convince others to resist the evermore amounting onslaught of humanity by ill willed men. They've died, and/or have suffered torture and prisons because of this, which are forms of suffering by the way. It was their will power that helped them (at least most) get through this, as even though they've died, many have been awakened by them (take the scientists and the philosophers of the Enlightenment era, for example, or takewhatever figure in any era who have died for their cause).

5. Well first, we would have to go through our own inner darkness, as spiritual growth is never brought into fruition without periods of depression and anxiety. You also can develop close relationships with whatever person you know around, and try to connect with whatever is close to you in orderto build a Social Organism (see my "A Social Organism" post on the Political Philosophy section).

6. What do you ean by "yogi solution"? You mean what I've said about the material world?
I think as trite as it may sound that suffering does make us stronger, and suffering is the natural condition. There are few people in this world who have contributed to it that never suffered. That said of course you would not wish suffering on people, but it is what is, and how you surmount it is your personal triumph nonetheless.

Felasco
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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Felasco » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:38 pm

For me, suffering comes about when people mainly want things, ad they try to reach it and they crave it so much that when they never reach it, they fall into despair.
That's a fair summary, and it can be boiled down further, to a single word. Suffering is thought. Every experience we would call suffering is made of thought. (Pain is a better word for unwanted physical sensations.)

Knowing that suffering is made of thought is helpful, because thought is biological process of the body which can be managed by simple mechanical methods.

We can draw a clear line between constructive thinking which helps solve the problem of say, being unemployed, and destructive thinking which accomplishes nothing more than exhausting our energies by making us feel bad about our employment.

Philosophy and reason is a process of developing and refining the ability to do more effective constructive thinking. Meditation is a process of developing and refining the ability to let go of destructive thinking.

Suffering is really the result of the sloppy management of thought.

Suffering might be compared to eating lots of junk food and then getting fat, ie, the sloppy management of calories. We choose to suffer, in the same way that the overweight person chooses the next bag of potato chips. People who are serious about experiencing less suffering go on a thought diet.

Suffering is epidemic because most of us prefer the stimulating junk food of mental melodrama to being sensible about what we think. We do this for the same reason that our lives are crammed with noisy media of all types, we're afraid of the quiet.

Skip
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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Skip » Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:33 am

WanderingLands wrote: 1. How to counter suffering came about starting when philosophies such as Buddhism, Cynicism, Stoicism, Existentialism, and other forms of aestheticism came about,
Those philosophies didn't "come about": they were invented by sophisticated civilized humans - at different times and in different places.
None of them "counter" suffering: they attempt various explanations and excuses for it.
which did, I believe, help people cope with the whatever type of suffering there it.

Whatever kind of suffering there is?
A few developed a taste for self-flagellation; more exaggerated their little psychological twinges into a drama, starring them. But neither suffering nor people were reduced and the desire for pain never really caught on.
The numbers have still not really increased in terms of the majority of the world population, but then again most people don't look at philosophy or spirituality for answers.
Really? 2.1 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, +/_500 million Buddhists, 600,000 Rastafarians, 23 million Sikhs, 14 million Jews, their various deities know how many native practitioners of how many religions in Africa and the Americas, not to mention 15 million who identify as Spiritualist.
3. The reason why people tend to abhor it is because of the amount of weight they feel that they're carrying, and also the fact that the often have no clue of how to cope with and not let it wreck them. People naturally do not want bad luck happening it to them, and yet every individual on this planet (including you and me) just unfortunately end up in that spot.
But why do elk and octopuses avoid it? How did it start? If pain was good, why did all per-human creatures turn against it?
For me, suffering comes about when people mainly want things, ad they try to reach it and they crave it so much that when they never reach it, they fall into despair.
What, like a cup of water? They haven't given you any for three days and then put the cup just beyond your reach. Learning to love that would take some fancy philosophizing!
Anyways, the reason why it is good is not because it is desirable, but because it is a test,
and all tests are good by definition. If you Fail, that's good, because it gives you the chance to suffer some more.
Once you diminish the emotional reaction of suffering, you can look at it objectively
I'm guessing you wouldn't get a standing ovation in Stretcher Bay 2 - not least because the patients are mostly unable to stand. Even if they could, most terminal cancer patients wouldn't buy this:
so that thenect time abadfeeling comes along, you'd be able to try and identify it.
Some people can manage pain with self-hypnosis and similar brain tricks. If you know how to do that and can teach it, by all means, do.

But it won't work on a harpooned whale or a whipped horse.
Even in humans who speak your same language, it's useless against malnutrition, dehydration, exsanguination, necrosis and hypothermia.
This is not to say that you won't go through a demise; just not something that can result in anything serious such as death or some other mishap.
That, right there, is my quote for the week!
4. People have always knew and have been conscious about the progressing deccadence of civilization and the masses in them, and they've tried to resist and convince others to resist the evermore amounting onslaught of humanity by ill willed men. They've died, and/or have suffered torture and prisons because of this, which are forms of suffering by the way.
No kidding! I suspect most of the martyrs weren't opposing soft ice cream or X-boxes. They were mostly killed, will-power or not. They're being killed right now. So are their followers, most of whom may not even understand the cause, and a whole lot of bystanders who don't even know there is a cause.
6. What do you mean by "yogi solution"? You mean what I've said about the material world?
Yeah, all that guff about rising above material desire; you'll be all better if only you stop wanting things. Lots of people get over their dark teatime by wanting and doing something positive. Many say hi-bye and keep truckin'. Many don't have it at all.
Last edited by Skip on Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

Felasco
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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Felasco » Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:55 am

Skip, pain (body) and suffering (mind) are not the same thing. I believe WanderingLands is addressing the later, and not the former.

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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by WanderingLands » Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:46 am

Skip wrote: Those philosophies didn't "come about": they were invented by sophisticated civilized humans - at different times and in different places.
None of them "counter" suffering: they attempt various explanations and excuses for it.
1. Philosophy is about reflecting on existence from different angles, and thus you are not really "inventing" Philosophy. Also, I do know that they came about in different periods; I was just listing them off as examples.
2. I believe that you ought to look at either Frederich Nietzsche's "Higher Man" theory, Buddhism's Four Noble Truths and Eight Fold Path's, Diogenes' life and how it was influential to Cynicism, and as well as some Stoic texts (ie. Epictetus' Enchoridion and Seneca's On Anger). All of these have different methods and explanations on how to counter suffering.

Whatever kind of suffering there is?
A few developed a taste for self-flagellation; more exaggerated their little psychological twinges into a drama, starring them. But neither suffering nor people were reduced and the desire for pain never really caught on.
As I have been saying many times, I'm not talking about desiring it; I am talking about coping with it. Desire and coping with it to not be so affected by it (in other words, looking at it objectively and not emotionally) are two different things.
Really? 2.1 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, +/_500 million Buddhists, 600,000 Rastafarians, 23 million Sikhs, 14 million Jews, their various deities know how many native practitioners of how many religions in Africa and the Americas, not to mention 15 million who identify as Spiritualist.
I'm not talking about religion; I'm talking about spirituality, as in more specifically, common teachings and foundations that are present within all religions (ie. belief in God, doing good unto others). You also ignored the fact that I mentioned the word "philosophy" in it, which is a blunder, because most of the people practicing their faiths are ignorant of their underlying philosophies, such as mainly the interpretation of scriptures, to make since of why "their" religion is best (you see this especially in the Judeo/Christian/Islamic trichonomy).
But why do elk and octopuses avoid it? How did it start? If pain was good, why did all per-human creatures turn against it?
I'm not talking about the larger biology and their handlings of suffering, so I do not understand why you would mention them. Again, there is no absolute or definitive point where suffering started. The reason why suffering starts (in terms of different cultures forming in different periods of time) is because they desire things that are out of reach, and there are many other factors to this, which leads them to no longer identify with existence and fall apart.

But as I have said before, all different cultures go through this; it is a cycle and has no relation to a "definitive point".
What, like a cup of water? They haven't given you any for three days and then put the cup just beyond your reach. Learning to love that would take some fancy philosophizing!
I believe that what I'm talking about is much more complicated than that, and so I recommend that you read about the above philosophies that I've mentioned.

Anyways, Skip, I have decided to not respond to your latter comments about my quotes, as it pretty much goes downhill ad hominem and straw man combined to form childish cheap shots. You see, it's good to discuss things with those who disagree, but it is very tiring when I have to discuss things with people who blab and ridicule things that they've never even touched.

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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Skip » Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:38 am

Felasco wrote:Skip, pain (body) and suffering (mind) are not the same thing. I believe WanderingLands is addressing the later, and not the former.
I know. Dramatizing that very common transition young people go through between pubescence and intellectual identity.
But he didn't make a clear distinction, or define his parameters, while hinting that those other kinds of suffering would go away if the prisoners and patients read the right books.
I wouldn't pick on him, but for that. Hyperbole annoys me in any context. So does the incorrect use of words. And it irritates the hell out of me when someone utterly clueless about the real pain, misery, agony, terror, horror, grief, brutality, starvation, injury, loss, illness, physical and mental torture in the world - a great deal of which could be mitigated by real action in the world - appropriates it, plunks his own personal stamp of approval on and waves a magic wand at it.
Wandering Lands
... but it is very tiring when I have to discuss things with people who blab and ridicule things that they've never even touched.
I wholeheartedly agree.

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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by WanderingLands » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:20 am

Skip wrote:
But he didn't make a clear distinction, or define his parameters, while hinting that those other kinds of suffering would go away if the prisoners and patients read the right books.
I would like to give you the entire story, but I am not going to do so as it is your journey, and not mine.

I shall give some resources, and some things to search, for you to start off in your journey. They are:

1. Robert E. Svoboda's Aghora series (On the Left Hand of God, Kundalini, and The Law of Karma)
2. Satanic Meditation (does not imply that you have to be a Satanist; just learn stuff from it): http://www.angelfire.com/empire/serpent ... ation.html
3. Read some Stoic texts online
4. Read whatever religious text, and search out some Esoteric philosophies within those religions (any religion)
5. Look into other Occult and Esoteric topics (ie. Alchemy, Magic)
Skip wrote:
it irritates the hell out of me when someone utterly clueless about the real pain, misery, agony, terror, horror, grief, brutality, starvation, injury, loss, illness, physical and mental torture in the world - a great deal of which could be mitigated by real action in the world - appropriates it, plunks his own personal stamp of approval on and waves a magic wand at it.
I am not merely doing those things that which you describe, and neither are any of the philosophies that I site. I am just observing myself and my faults, and looking into history, as well as look at my surroundings in society, to find the faults of others, and compare it to mine.

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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Felasco » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:17 am

I know. Dramatizing that very common transition young people go through between pubescence and intellectual identity.
Suffering is the human condition Skip, for people of all ages and places. Apologies, but you seem to have no clue on this particular topic.

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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Felasco » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:37 am

I shall give some resources, and some things to search, for you to start off in your journey. They are:
Books and experts etc tend to reinforce the impression that suffering is complex, a problem to analyze, a puzzle to be unraveled, something else to think about etc. Such things deal with the content of thought. The general idea is that if we just get the content of thought right, the suffering will go away.

But what if suffering arises directly out of the nature of thought itself? What if the content of thought is not that important to the issue of suffering? What if suffering is the inevitable by-product of the process of thinking, much as poopies are the inevitable by-product of a meal?

What if suffering is not really an analytical problem, but a much simpler physical one? As example, if we're tired, we lie down and rest. It's not complex, it's a simple obvious management of physical processes of the body. Wouldn't this be good news?

What if suffering can be managed by using simple mechanical exercises to reduce the quantity and volume of thought, just as we might do situps to get a flatter stomach?

Suffering is made of thought. Turn off thought, suffering goes away. Simple.

This is not a permanent solution to suffering, just as eating a meal is not a permanent solution to hunger. However, as one develops an ability to manage thought and thus suffering, one is less likely to be sucked in to the mental melodramas with enthusiasm.

It's not so much suffering that is the problem, but our relationship with it. When we go, "OMG, I'M SUFFERING!" we are poring fuel on the fire, feeding the blaze. If we take a more detached view, the suffering comes and the suffering goes, like the weather.

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Re: Why Suffering is a Good Thing

Post by Skip » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:39 pm

Felasco wrote: Suffering is the human condition Skip, for people of all ages and places. Apologies, but you seem to have no clue on this particular topic.
If you say so. Pity to have wasted half a century of social activism and service, but there it is - I shall go clueless to my grave. My "journey" is nearing its end, and I doubt I'll spend the remaining time rereading poxy permanent adolescent ubermenches.

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