Saturday, June 23, 2007

Suffering in all its Forms by Louis Evan Palmer

If we want a guiding principle, it seems that directing ourselves to the reduction and elimination of suffering will lead us eventually to a kind of paradise. It's similar to having compassion for all creatures. It's similar to "love your neighbour as yourself" or "do unto others..". However, it has an advantage in that it has more of an orientation to action. It pushes us to look at suffering and try to see its causes and remedies and then asks us to act.

We'd want to state that not everything that may be construed as suffering would be under the force of this directive: for example, some learning might be considered as suffering but if the lesson is valuable and the suffering is temporary; pain, in and of itself, is not necessarily suffering if it's short-lived and it doesn't result in permanent damage.

Suffering has some longevity to it, some continuity. In some instances, it carries a whiff of confusion or bewilderment. In other instances, it has a tinge of despair or futility to it. The loss of hope sometimes sharpens the suffering. The loss of hope sometimes lessens the suffering.

Suffering should evoke empathy, it should make us want to help. In its widest sense, it would include animals and nature.

According to the Buddha, the source of human suffering is delusion epitomized by desire and the notion of self. Therefore, the truest task towards the elimination of suffering is self-knowledge. This gives rise to compassion and acts of mercy and aid. We can also approach it from the other side - we can perform the acts of mercy and aid even in our unenlightened state and by doing so bring ourselves closer to that state as in enlightened does as enlightened is.

The reduction and elimination of suffering leads us to good stewardship of nature, to vegetarianism, to peace, to right living and livelihood. It does bring us face-to-face with spiritual laws and if we accept them or want to follow them. It does force us into the unpleasant calculus of the greatest good for the greatest number and accepting some suffering against greater suffering, or accepting some suffering against violation of a spiritual law and what we feel would be the certainty of greater future suffering. It makes us address deluded suffering brought on by things like consumerism or greed but with compassion and an appropriate gentleness.

Suffering in all its Forms, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.



Robert Daoust said...

Hi Evan, your post is quoted in my blog today.

The Way It Can Be said...

Thanks Robert..
Also thanks for making me aware of your website - it is profound, thought-provoking and a force for good.