What is suffering?

This thing we call suffering — what is it, really?

We hate it so much that we take it for granted.

Taken to extremes it’s a state in which we wish we didn’t exist.

But even if that’s true it doesn’t answer the question.

Can we use suffering as a gateway? As a target for enquiry, by examining suffering to see what it is?

Its origin? Natural selection may have created a simple pain signal to cause organisms to pay attention, because consciousness heals. But over time, as nervous systems became more complex, this simple signal evolved into suffering.

Theodicy: The problem seems to be that consciousness and the world interact in a bad way. If animals (including us) weren’t conscious, then animals eating live animals would be as innocuous as recycling aluminum cans.

The last paragraph is inconsistent with the Upanishadic view that consiousness is the ontologic basis for the world. So what?

Bottom line: What is suffering? Try to see.

Photo of Busaba at Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand by Ashley Vincent.

6 thoughts to “What is suffering?”

  1. I just finished Suzanne Segal’s Collision with the Infinite. Near the end she wrote:

    But the vastness has no goal of ridding itself of anything. The vastness, which is what we really are, never suffers. Therefore, it never asks that anything be eliminated for suffering to cease.

    Not sure what moved me to share that, but there it is…

  2. I am remembered by Sri Ramana Maharshi conversation with Paramhansa Yogananda.. Who suffers? It is the way.

    If no suffering happened, no one would look for themselves!

  3. In answering this question, what I can say is that to exist suffering, one has to believe that there is a separation between the subject and the object. With this brings the feeling of desire and fear, which in turn brings us suffering.

    If we stand as a witness, we will see that there is no suffering.

    If we remain as we are, Being, there will be no questions.

  4. Activities that do not comply with the laws of nature create conflicts that can be called suffering.
    Each conflict is suffering. Conflict arises whenever knowledge is incompatible with reality.

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