Pain Is Inevitable Suffering Is Optional


Pain Is Inevitable Suffering Is Optional
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” This quote has been attributed to the Dalai Lama, Haruki Murakami, and M. Kathleen Casey. Identifying the first person to share this wisdom is less important than recognizing the inspirational nugget at the core of this simple mantra.

Success in life and in business takes focus and hard work. Hard work may entail long days in the hot summer sun cleaning up hazardous waste sites or dedicated time at the computer solving technical problems and communicating with clients and business associates. Most of my business days are spent solving problems and helping clients maintain (or return to) regulatory compliance.

The work does not do itself. If I don’t dedicate my time and stay focused my work will not miraculously disappear. One of the ways I maintain focus in the business world is to train for and run marathons. Knowing that I want to set aside the time to exercise helps me stay dedicated while in the office.

If I want to achieve my goal of finishing an event or beating a target finish time, I know that I have to dedicate time and effort to that end. For most marathons I use a 16-week training plan comprising a base of long slow miles, mixing in speed work, spicing it up with regular hill repeats, and adding a splash of miles on the trails.

That is my recipe for a solid marathon. That effort is the base investment I make so that on race day I am confident in my foundation. But there is more to success than a strong foundation. Pain. Adversity. Good old fashioned ‘hurt.’ Training for an April Marathon in New England means running in the dark and snow.

Training for an August event means heat and humidity and heat and humidity and a little more heat. When the weather forecast calls for rain, I have two options; I can postpone that run or I can ‘embrace the hurt’ and test my limits by running in the rain (which feels like a relief after all the heat and humidity).

There is tremendous value in testing ourselves in adverse conditions during training. We don’t control the weather on race day. We don’t control the other athletes. By training in all conditions, we can prove to ourselves that we have the ability to work through the pain and thrive.

  1. We can solve problems in non-critical situations so that when race day arrives, we’ve already dealt with many of the road blocks that could be obstacles to success. Smile.
  2. Work can be hard.
  3. Life can be hard.
  4. Running a marathon can be hard.
  5. It’s not a surprise that doing challenging things takes hard work.

However, we need not suffer while working hard. By accepting the pain that comes with facing challenges and recognizing that pain is temporary and part of the process, it is possible to let the suffering slide right by. Looking at thumbnails of mid-race photos, we can see runners and mountain bikers are deep in the “working hard” part of this trail race.

But there is one goofy grin. I was joking with a biker going the “wrong way” on the trail because he wasn’t participating in the race. I don’t claim to understand the neurological benefits of smiling, but I know that taking the time to laugh, smile, or thank a volunteer makes me feel better. And every minute I spend feeling better is a minute not spent suffering.

In a marathon those minutes add up. This is true in the business world as well. It’s easy to keep your head down, your nose to the grindstone, plugging away to meet deadlines. But there is real value in taking the time to make connections with shared laughter and a smile.

  • Working hard to complete a challenging project is often hard work, but it need not be suffering.
  • Working hard with a smile on your face sends a message to everyone around you that you are in control and making progress toward success.
  • Relentless forward progress is a good way to run a marathon and a great way to go through life.

Smile. Suffering is optional.

What does it mean by pain is inevitable but suffering is optional?

Pain x Resistance = Suffering – There is a famous equation first stated by Shinzen Young that is used in mindfulness to describe the way suffering occurs: PAIN X RESISTANCE = SUFFERING When we discuss resistance, we are referring to the misguided belief that unchangeable features of life can be changed, or when we look at a painful situation and tell ourselves that it isn’t fair, or that it shouldn’t be happening.

When the reality is that there is no way of changing this feature and that there is really nothing that can be done to alter it. Therefore, when we feel pain and try to resist the reality that it is a natural and normal part of life, we will suffer. If we look at the example of the broken leg, it is almost impossible to expect a person with a broken leg to not feel upset – not only about the objective pain, but also because they may have to miss out on certain activities, and will have to live a more restricted life due to their injury.

However, we know that if this person were to lie in bed every day until their leg healed, telling themselves that it isn’t fair that they are in this situation, then they would end up feeling worse than if they accepted that their leg was broken and there was nothing they could do to change this fact.

And this brings us onto the discussion of how exactly we can stop suffering. The antidote for suffering is acceptance. If you can accept pain for what it is, an inevitable part of life, and practise this acceptance in the place of resistance then your suffering will lessen. We can stop directing all of our energy towards trying to change the unchangeable or lament the unfairness of a situation that was always going to happen.

By freeing up our energy, we can stop focusing on the pain, and live a more content and peaceful life beyond it. The pain will still be there, but our perception of it will have changed.

Is suffering optional in Buddhism?

Why Pain is Inevitable, but Suffering is Optional When we think of pain and suffering, we usually think about more or less the same thing. When there’s pain, there’s suffering. And we can only be free from suffering if we eliminate pain, right? Well, even though these two experiences are interconnected, pain and suffering are two fundamentally different things, as far as the Buddhists are concerned.

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional,” is a Buddhist saying that points to a fundamental truth of existence, which is that pain and affliction are an inherent part of life: we contract illnesses, get wounded, lose our loved ones, our possessions, our social status. But despite the hardships we encounter, the degree of suffering we generate still varies per person.

The greatest misfortune hardly affects some people, while the slightest inconvenience leads other people into states of deep agony. Thus, could it be that suffering is something we can manage and doesn’t always have to result from pain? The first noble truth of Buddhism tells us that suffering is part of living in the world and comes in many different forms like sorrow, the fear of loss, and lamentation.

Most (if not all) people experience these forms of suffering at some point in their lives. The good news is that Buddhism offers a way out, as the Buddha designed his teachings to end suffering. Part of this process is the realization that the affliction by external forces is inevitable but that we can minimize further suffering.

This article dives into the Buddhist view on pain and suffering and how we can suffer less even though adversity and misfortune are part of life.

What is your interpretation of the quotation pain is certain suffering is optional?

running tribe There’s no way around it – running 100 miles is going to hurt. But what do you do when you’re just starting the biggest race of your life and your back starts seizing up. Do you push on, or quit? That was the stark choice faced by runner Chris Walsh in a recent event.

In this first of a three-part series, Chris talks about the difference between pain and suffering, why self-talk is so important, and the power of being part of a tribe. Tell us about your running journey. I ran when I was a kid but stopped my junior year because I transferred from one school to another that was in a much more competitive division.

So I went from being one of the best runners to one of the worst. I re-discovered running back in late 2011 through the company I worked for. They wanted to put on some running events, just 5Ks. I thought, “Yeah, sure, I ran 30 years ago, I can do this without training.” And then I got my butt kicked.

That happened a couple times and I finally decided to take it seriously. I figured that I’d never run more than a 5K, but I progressed to a 10K, then a half marathon. I said I’d never run a marathon and now I’ve done eight. I said I’d never do a trail event, but I started running off-road in January and last weekend completed my first hundred-mile race.

Good for you! How did your mindset change as you kept re-defining what you were capable of? I never gave much thought to the mental side for the first five years. I’d just go out and run as hard as I could. But I’d have times when things got into my head.

Then I came across The Champion’s Mind right when it came out. Jim was tweeting a lot about it, and it seemed intriguing to me, so I bought the book, read it, and realized that there was an entirely new aspect of training. Doing mental skills work helped me realize a lot of things that I was doing wrong as far as my physical training.

That it wasn’t always about going out there and crushing myself physically – it’s more important to know how to crush it mentally. How does the mental challenge change with longer races? It seems like that the further the distance, the more the mental training really comes into play.

  • A 5K for the average person lasts 20 to 45 minutes, so you can kind of overcome that.
  • When you get to a half marathon, you’re talking an hour and a half to three hours and a full marathon takes three to six hours.
  • You need a lot of tools in your mental toolbox to get yourself through those longer runs.

How did this come into play during your hundred-mile race? In the hundred miler, I hit a rough patch early because the muscles in my back started hurting. I had just started my second loop and was trying to figure out ways to quit gracefully. It hurt, and the big bad wolf was there telling me to quit – just finish the lap and be done with it.

  • Then another runner passed me and could see I was struggling.
  • She asked me, “How are you doing?” We got talking and I told her, “I’m really hurting.” She replied, “Keep going! It’s a long way, you’ll figure it out.” I started to think, “Okay, I‘ve got to get this out of my head.” I realized that the big bad wolf was winning and so I kept telling myself to feed the good wolf.

A sore back is just a sore back – it’s not going to do anything to hurt me. After a while, my back started hurting less and I was able to start running again. I passed that girl and thanked her. She asked me, “What did you do?” I told her, “I fed the good wolf.” So you made a conscious choice to push through the pain by re-framing it? Yes.

  1. There’s a Japanese poet who’s a marathoner and one of the things that he says is, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” When you think about it that way, it’s going to hurt, but you are the one who’s making the choice whether you’re going to suffer or not.
  2. So choose to not suffer.
  3. Which other mindset tactics did you use in that race? Another thing I did is to touch or gesture toward the reflective trail markers hanging from bushes along the course.

Then I said to myself, “I’m still alive.” It had two meanings for me: I’m still alive in the race and alive in general! What’s your mental approach to training, particularly as you’ve increased your mileage? You need to have a “why” to do it. Often, that’s as simple as, “Because I can.” I can get out there and do it.

  1. I’ve got my health.
  2. Sometimes when it gets really rough, I think about people who can’t do it.
  3. I had this friend on social media who passed away in January of 2017 from stage four cancer.
  4. She actually ran the New York Marathon in November of 2016, two months before she died.
  5. I think about things like that, or about my wife, who was never an athlete but makes the effort to go out and train and has now run a half marathon.

I guess that’s my why. Want to learn the secret of Chris’s positive self-talk? Download the Champion’s Mind app for Apple or Android now!

Can there be pain without suffering?

Pain Is Inevitable; Suffering Is Optional “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor Frankl In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Dr. Frankl wrote about the psychological impact of life as a prisoner in the Nazi camps of World War II.

His mother, father, brother, and wife were all killed in the camps. Dr. Frankl describes in chilling detail how his captors took from him virtually everything of personal value and basic human dignity. The only thing that the Nazis were unable to take away was his choice as to how to respond to the deprivation, degradation, and to which he was subjected.

He made a conscious decision to focus his energies on “owning” that small but all-important space between the stimulus (whatever was said or done to him) and his response to it. His ability to retain that degree of psycho- autonomy in the most horrific circumstances imaginable provides a remarkable example of intrapersonal strength, grace under extreme duress, the power of personal choice, and the Serenity Prayer in action.

  1. Physical pain has distinct biological and psychological components that effectively represent stimulus and response.
  2. The biology of pain is the signal transmitted through the central that “something is wrong.” The psychology of pain is the interpretation or meaning we give to that pain signal—the internal and beliefs about it which then drive our emotional reactions.

Suffering results from mental and emotional responses to pain. The biological and psychological facets of combine to become like a smoke detector that goes on and stays on, continuously sounding a harrowing alarm at high volume. Recovery from chronic pain distinguishes between the actual pain and the suffering it causes, and focuses on achieving relief from that suffering.

  • Pain is unavoidable; suffering is not.
  • It occurs in response to thoughts such as: “Why me?!” “It isn’t fair!” “This is horrible!” “I can’t stand it!” Suffering in general, as well as specific to chronic pain, is a function of imbalances in physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual functioning.
  • Because whatever affects the mind or the body will inevitably affect the other, regardless of which side of the fence an issue originates, imbalances in thinking can create imbalances in physical, emotional, and spiritual functioning.

Recovery from any significant condition or life challenge is a gradual, progressive, and ongoing process of restoring balance in these areas. Suffering is both a cause and an effect of the catastrophic cognitions and distressing emotions associated with chronic pain:, irritability,,,, frustration,,,, hopelessness, and helplessness.

  • Only makes situations we believe to be “bad,” worse.
  • Many people, including those who do not suffer from chronic pain, can ruminate on something by continuously and unproductively replaying it in their minds or magnifying the negative aspects of it.
  • Our thoughts have the capacity to make us miserable, and negative thinking can be especially insidious, feeding on itself, with the potential to become a self-fulfilling and self-defeating prophecy.

For people with chronic pain, there is a direct correlation between negative thinking and the level of pain they experience. It’s a vicious circle wherein pain triggers negative thoughts and self-talk which translate to feelings that coincide with suffering, and increases muscle tension and,

That, in turn, amplifies pain signals, triggering more of them. The progression is essentially as follows: Pain leads to negative thoughts/ self-talk/ beliefs lead to feelings of frustration/ anger/ anxiety/ fear/ sadness/ depression/ hopelessness lead to suffering leads to muscle tension and stress lead to more pain leads to increased negative thoughts/ self-talk/ beliefs lead to increased frustration/ anger/ anxiety/ fear/ sadness/ depression/ hopelessness leads to greater suffering, and so on.

The longer such a cycle continues, the more out of balance a person becomes. Suffering can be modified when people become consciously aware of this chain reaction and learn how to respond differently to their pain. The process of pain recovery includes dramatically changing the negative progression starting with regaining cognitive and emotional balance through the application of acceptance strategies and -based practices.

Reestablishing balance counteracts the above deviation-amplifying dynamics: conscious awareness of negative thinking/ self-talk and how it sets off the cascade of events that fuels suffering leads to mindful acceptance and detached observation of negative thinking/ self-talk lead to tamping down/ minimizing of suffering leads to decreased feelings of frustration/ anger/ anxiety/ fear/ sadness/ depression/ hopelessness lead to lower stress and muscle tension leads to less pain.

Is this easy? Of course not. However, it is absolutely possible. By adjusting our thinking, and how we think about our thinking, we can change our emotional responses, the extent to which we suffer (or not), our level of tension and stress, and in turn, our experience of pain.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mager, MSW. More from Psychology Today The normal human condition means that we are challenged, stressed, and have ups and downs fairly regularly. When it’s been a while, a hug delivers a major mood boost. How to deal with unexpected traumatic events. Mistakes make our lives more complicated by wasting time, money, and energy.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional

People may have the impression that the hormone, cortisol, leads to the experience of stress. At a certain level of stress, emotions can overtake thinking. The idea of playing dumb, one form of knowledge hiding, may seem to be a bad idea if you’re trying to impress others. : Pain Is Inevitable; Suffering Is Optional

What are the 4 rules of suffering?

Buddhism: An Introduction Buddhism is a major global religion with a complex history and system of beliefs. The following is intended only to introduce Buddhism’s history and fundamental tenets, and by no means covers the religion exhaustively. To learn more about Buddhism, please look through our Web Resources section for other in-depth, online sources of information. Historians estimate that the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, lived from 566(?) to 480(?) B.C. The son of an Indian warrior-king, Gautama led an extravagant life through early adulthood, reveling in the privileges of his social caste. But when he bored of the indulgences of royal life, Gautama wandered into the world in search of understanding.

  1. After encountering an old man, an ill man, a corpse and an ascetic, Gautama was convinced that suffering lay at the end of all existence.
  2. He renounced his princely title and became a monk, depriving himself of worldly possessions in the hope of comprehending the truth of the world around him.
  3. The culmination of his search came while meditating beneath a tree, where he finally understood how to be free from suffering, and ultimately, to achieve salvation.
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Following this epiphany, Gautama was known as the Buddha, meaning the “Enlightened One.” The Buddha spent the remainder of his life journeying about India, teaching others what he had come to understand. The Four Noble Truths The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha’s teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.

More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end. The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify it. The concept of pleasure is not denied, but acknowledged as fleeting.

Pursuit of pleasure can only continue what is ultimately an unquenchable thirst. The same logic belies an understanding of happiness. In the end, only aging, sickness, and death are certain and unavoidable. The Four Noble Truths are a contingency plan for dealing with the suffering humanity faces – suffering of a physical kind, or of a mental nature.

The First Truth identifies the presence of suffering. The Second Truth, on the other hand, seeks to determine the cause of suffering. In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied.

As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one’s mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things.

Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance. The Third Noble Truth, the truth of the end of suffering, has dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering in this life, on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana. When one has achieved Nirvana, which is a transcendent state free from suffering and our worldly cycle of birth and rebirth, spiritual enlightenment has been reached.

The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering, known to Buddhists as the Noble Eightfold Path. The steps of the Noble Eightfold Path are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Contrary to what is accepted in contemporary society, the Buddhist interpretation of karma does not refer to preordained fate. Karma refers to good or bad actions a person takes during her lifetime. Good actions, which involve either the absence of bad actions, or actual positive acts, such as generosity, righteousness, and meditation, bring about happiness in the long run.

  1. Bad actions, such as lying, stealing or killing, bring about unhappiness in the long run.
  2. The weight that actions carry is determined by five conditions: frequent, repetitive action; determined, intentional action; action performed without regret; action against extraordinary persons; and action toward those who have helped one in the past.

Finally, there is also neutral karma, which derives from acts such as breathing, eating or sleeping. Neutral karma has no benefits or costs. The Cycle of Rebirth Karma plays out in the Buddhism cycle of rebirth. There are six separate planes into which any living being can be reborn – three fortunate realms, and three unfortunate realms.

Those with favorable, positive karma are reborn into one of the fortunate realms: the realm of demigods, the realm of gods, and the realm of men. While the demigods and gods enjoy gratification unknown to men, they also suffer unceasing jealousy and envy. The realm of man is considered the highest realm of rebirth.

Humanity lacks some of the extravagances of the demigods and gods, but is also free from their relentless conflict. Similarly, while inhabitants of the three unfortunate realms – of animals, ghosts and hell – suffer untold suffering, the suffering of the realm of man is far less.

What does Nietzsche say about pain?

Friedrich Nietzsche had a unique perspective on pain and suffering. He believed that suffering should be valued because it makes life more meaningful. Nietzsche saw pain and suffering as an opportunity to become stronger and more resolute. He felt that these trials make life worth living and give it greater meaning.

Who said pain is inevitable suffering is optional?

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” This quote has been attributed to the Dalai Lama, Haruki Murakami, and M. Kathleen Casey. Identifying the first person to share this wisdom is less important than recognizing the inspirational nugget at the core of this simple mantra.

  • Success in life and in business takes focus and hard work.
  • Hard work may entail long days in the hot summer sun cleaning up hazardous waste sites or dedicated time at the computer solving technical problems and communicating with clients and business associates.
  • Most of my business days are spent solving problems and helping clients maintain (or return to) regulatory compliance.

The work does not do itself. If I don’t dedicate my time and stay focused my work will not miraculously disappear. One of the ways I maintain focus in the business world is to train for and run marathons. Knowing that I want to set aside the time to exercise helps me stay dedicated while in the office.

If I want to achieve my goal of finishing an event or beating a target finish time, I know that I have to dedicate time and effort to that end. For most marathons I use a 16-week training plan comprising a base of long slow miles, mixing in speed work, spicing it up with regular hill repeats, and adding a splash of miles on the trails.

That is my recipe for a solid marathon. That effort is the base investment I make so that on race day I am confident in my foundation. But there is more to success than a strong foundation. Pain. Adversity. Good old fashioned ‘hurt.’ Training for an April Marathon in New England means running in the dark and snow.

  1. Training for an August event means heat and humidity and heat and humidity and a little more heat.
  2. When the weather forecast calls for rain, I have two options; I can postpone that run or I can ‘embrace the hurt’ and test my limits by running in the rain (which feels like a relief after all the heat and humidity).

There is tremendous value in testing ourselves in adverse conditions during training. We don’t control the weather on race day. We don’t control the other athletes. By training in all conditions, we can prove to ourselves that we have the ability to work through the pain and thrive.

  • We can solve problems in non-critical situations so that when race day arrives, we’ve already dealt with many of the road blocks that could be obstacles to success. Smile.
  • Work can be hard.
  • Life can be hard.
  • Running a marathon can be hard.
  • It’s not a surprise that doing challenging things takes hard work.

However, we need not suffer while working hard. By accepting the pain that comes with facing challenges and recognizing that pain is temporary and part of the process, it is possible to let the suffering slide right by. Looking at thumbnails of mid-race photos, we can see runners and mountain bikers are deep in the “working hard” part of this trail race.

  1. But there is one goofy grin.
  2. I was joking with a biker going the “wrong way” on the trail because he wasn’t participating in the race.
  3. I don’t claim to understand the neurological benefits of smiling, but I know that taking the time to laugh, smile, or thank a volunteer makes me feel better.
  4. And every minute I spend feeling better is a minute not spent suffering.

In a marathon those minutes add up. This is true in the business world as well. It’s easy to keep your head down, your nose to the grindstone, plugging away to meet deadlines. But there is real value in taking the time to make connections with shared laughter and a smile.

Working hard to complete a challenging project is often hard work, but it need not be suffering. Working hard with a smile on your face sends a message to everyone around you that you are in control and making progress toward success. Relentless forward progress is a good way to run a marathon and a great way to go through life.

Smile. Suffering is optional.

Did Buddha say life is pain?

The First Noble Truth – dukkha – The First Noble Truth is the idea that everyone suffers and that suffering is part of the world. Buddhists believe in the cycle of samsara, which is the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, This means that people will experience suffering many times over.

All of the things a person goes through in life cause suffering and they cannot do anything about it. Instead, they have to accept that it is there. People may use temporary solutions to end suffering, such as doing something they enjoy. However, this does not last forever and the suffering can come back when the enjoyment ends.

Buddhists want to work to try to stop suffering. However, the first step is to acknowledge that there is suffering – it happens and it exists.

What is pain vs suffering in Buddhism?

I have been pondering how to use my Buddhist practice to work with suffering when my chronic pain flares up. The Buddha’s teachings on The Four Noble Truths came immediately to mind. These teachings provide a roadmap for living a life free from suffering.

  1. Experiencing my pain directly, without judgments or resistance, has allowed me to use the Buddha’s roadmap on my journey from suffering to liberation.
  2. The Four Noble Truths In his first teaching after attaining liberation, the Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths: the truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the truth of the path to liberation from suffering.

The First Noble Truth recognizes the existence of suffering. We humans will do everything we can to resist or deny the existence of suffering. Paradoxically, resisting or denying the existence of suffering only increases our suffering. Recognizing the existence of suffering, without additional thoughts or denial, is the first step to letting go of the suffering that accompanies my chronic pain.

The Second Noble Truth, the cause of suffering, is clinging to things – especially ourselves – as real and permanent. My knee-jerk reaction when my pain flares up is self-pity. My self-centered thoughts and negative judgments increase my suffering. When I let go of my thoughts and focus instead on the direct experience of my pain, there is an immediate sense of relief and spaciousness.

Focusing on the pain itself, rather than clinging to it as something unique to myself, leads to the cessation of suffering – The Third Noble Truth, Working directly with the energy of physical pain has become my path out of the suffering that accompanies my pain.

This path is related to the Fourth Noble Truth, the path to liberation from suffering. “Don’t Shoot the Second Arrow” The Buddha’s teachings on the “two arrows” has also been extremely helpful for me. When we experience physical or emotional pain, it is like being shot by an arrow. According to the Buddha, the first arrow is not problem.

After all, we all inevitably experience pain of all kinds in our lives. The problem is that we then shoot ourselves with a second arrow with our thoughts, judgments and resistance to the initial pain. According to Buddhist teachers Jack Kornfield and Donald Rothberg : According to the Buddha, our reaction is equivalent to being shot by a second arrow.

We can call this second arrow suffering. Suffering arises because when we experience pain we typically react by lashing out, at ourselves and others. We believe somehow that this will dispel or mitigate the pain. We act in such a way that a second arrow is shot, at us or others, on account of the pain of the first arrow.

When we act so that the second arrow is shot, we ‘pass on’ the original pain. When I “lash out” at the perceived injustice of having a chronic pain condition, I am shooting myself with a second arrow. My mindfulness practice allows me to notice my thoughts and judgments as they arise, let them go and return to the object of my meditation.

  • When I’m experiencing pain, I allow that to be the object of my meditation.
  • As thoughts and judgments arise, I notice them lightly and return to the direct experience of pain.
  • Working Directly with Physical Pain as a Path to Liberation Here is an exercise for working directly with pain to alleviate the second arrow of suffering that often accompanies it.

This exercise can be used for both physical and emotional pain.

  1. Focus on the pain and breathe into it.
  2. Explore the pain with a sense of curiosity:
    • Where is the pain located?
    • How big is it?
    • What’s its shape?
    • If it had a color, what color would it be?
    • Is it hot or cold?
    • Is it static or does it move or vibrate?
  1. As you explore the pain in this way, notice how it shifts and moves. This is a good reminder that everything is impermanent.
  2. Remember that we all experience pain during our journey on the Four Rivers of Life — birth, old age, sickness and death.

When I work with my pain directly in this way, I am fully in the present moment. My thoughts, judgments and resistance are gone, and so is the suffering that I’ve added to the pain with those thoughts, judgments and resistance. In that present moment, I am liberated from my suffering.

Is human suffering inevitable?

Hardships are inevitable. From the small pains of a bad grade to the heavy grief of losing a loved one, all our lives have moments of struggle. But by exploring our relationship to our difficulties, we might actually discover the resources to make them easier to bear.

  1. That was something social psychologist Daphna Oyserman set out to explore when she began her research on “difficulty mindsets.” “When things feel difficult, the common frame is that the odds are low, it’s impossible, it’s not for you,” Oyserman says.
  2. Yet when you think about tasks and goals, you can’t attain anything worth attaining unless you actually work.

So there has to be an alternative definition of difficulty that lets you start going and keep going when it’s hard.” Applying that framework to the subject, Oyserman developed three mindsets for how people generally confront difficulty. The first, “difficulty as impossibility,” is how individualistic cultures (like that of the United States) sometimes frame challenging activities.

  1. If math is hard, then I shouldn’t pursue it any longer than I’m required to.
  2. Or, conversely, I might follow my passion for biology because it’s a subject I’m naturally good at.
  3. A similar idea applies to how Americans experience motivation or demotivation: if I’m better than another person at something, that makes me feel motivated, whereas if the other person is better than me, I’m less motivated.

The second category is “difficulty as importance,” in which a task or goal is important because it is hard to accomplish. Think of aphorisms like “no pain, no gain,” or the immense sacrifices athletes are willing to make to pursue a place in the Olympics.

  • In this framework, the difficulty of doing something is what makes it a valuable undertaking.
  • And it is possible to experience both “difficulty as impossibility” and “difficulty as importance.” Gülnaz Kiper, who conducts research under Oyserman, gives the example of a Black Lives Matter activist who wants to support racial equity and equality.

“When I encounter difficulty in achieving that goal, say due to personal and institutional racism or historical disadvantages, I might interpret the goal as all that much more important to achieve. Thus, I would interpret that difficulty as signaling importance.

But I might also look around and recognize the cards are stacked against the movement, and activists have been at it for centuries and yet racial inequality and inequity remain. Thus, I might also interpret that difficulty as impossibility.” But then Oyserman began considering the types of difficulties we encounter that go beyond striving for a goal or completing a task.

“When life is hard you cannot necessarily say, ‘I choose not to have this experience. I don’t like that my mother died.’ There has to be some sort of moral muscle I engage when life is hard.” From this she developed the third mindset, “difficulty as improvement.” “On the very first pass I was calling it ‘difficulty as sanctification,’ it purifies you and brings you closer to God,” Oyserman says.

At that point she was thinking about the way hardship is framed in the Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as religious beliefs rooted in Eastern religions. But when she started developing surveys to test that hypothesis, her colleagues pointed out that secular participants might not know how to respond.

Eventually the mindset was reframed, while still taking into account the cultural and religious differences that might influence how people responded to questions. The idea of improving through difficulties might sound similar to work of psychologist Carol Dweck, who studies human motivation and coined the idea of “growth mindsets.” For Dweck, you can develop a belief “that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” Essentially, if you’re willing to work hard, rather than remaining fixed in the belief that you’re innately bad at something, you might be able to gain new proficiency.

But this isn’t the focus of Oyserman’s work on difficulty mindsets. Growth mindset has more to do with effort and abilities, while difficulty mindsets have more to do with how we interpret hard tasks or challenging experiences. Oyserman and her colleagues surveyed people from Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, China, India and Iran.

They found that while everyone, to some degree, endorsed difficulty as improvement, people in collectivist cultures, like those of China and India, were more likely to make that endorsement. Another contrast is that Westerners were more likely to see these mindsets as an either-or choice, whereas for non-Westerners it was more of a both-and.

As Oyserman and her colleagues wrote in a paper for Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, “Chinese adolescents report better mental health and higher academic success if they endorse the idea that adversities and difficulties are reasonable.” Fortunately, even for students born into a more individualistic society, there are still ways to develop more resilient “difficulty as importance, not impossibility” mindsets.

Oyserman conducted another study on classroom interventions in high poverty schools in Detroit and Chicago, then broadly across Chicago and Nevada public schools. The ” Pathways to Success ” program helped students connect who they wanted to be in the future with the work they were doing in the present at school, and taught them that difficulty doesn’t mean they should give up on something, but rather signals its importance.

Students who engaged in the interventions were able to reframe difficulty as something that can be important and valuable, rather than impossible. “The kids in the intervention get better grades by leveraging those aspects of identity-based motivation,” Oyserman says. And the benefits apply to adults as well.

In a study on how people responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, those who were able to frame it in terms of difficulty as importance were more likely to engage in necessary preventative behaviors. “You could say, ‘Well I’m the kind of person who follows health advice, and it’s difficult but it must be important,’ those people were willing to see a silver lining in the pandemic,” Oyserman says.

  1. Building on her years of research, there are many things Oyserman wants to continue exploring.
  2. For example, she wants to see whether a person who applies a difficulty-as-improvement frame to make sense of life difficulties is also likely to apply this mindset to specific tasks and goals.
  3. Would there be a spillover effect? She also hopes to further investigate how society-level—things like wars, famines and droughts— impact difficulty-as-improvement mindsets.
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“That should factor into the extent to which people endorse these ideas of difficulty as improvement. It would help you to not feel utterly bad about yourself given circumstances you can’t change.” In other words, it might be that our ability to frame difficult moments as opportunities for personal growth gives us the resilience to keep going.

Is pain inevitable in life?

It’s funny—when I think about the most painful experiences in my life, both physically and emotionally, I notice that the amount of hurt I felt at the time is not proportional to how much I shudder when I look back on those moments. For example, nothing caused as much pure, mind-numbing pain than giving birth! Yet even in the toughest moments, I felt pride and excitement.

  • But when I get a mosquito bite, I complain and moan for days.
  • Suffering galore! Judged by the level of pain alone, giving birth is a million times worse than a mosquito bite.
  • So, what governs the amount of suffering we experience? Spoiler alert: The secret ingredient behind how much we suffer from painful experiences lies in the way we think about pain.

What is pain? Defining pain is simple. It’s an unpleasant physical sensation—either mild (like an itchy elbow), extreme (like a broken bone), or somewhere in between. It can also be an unpleasant, raw emotional experience. Raw emotion is an automatic and simple feeling, one that a first-grader could name— anger, sadness, fear, joy.

  1. Pain is something we’ve all felt and all will feel again.
  2. It’s universal and unavoidable.
  3. Nobody can truly say they’ve led a completely painless existence.
  4. Even people with the rare genetic condition of congenital insensitivity to pain can feel unpleasant emotions.
  5. Pain is useful That’s because pain is important and useful to us as humans.

Physical pain tells us to avoid harmful things. That’s why you don’t have to mull over the idea before pulling your hand back from a hot stove—the pain makes your body recoil quickly. It also tells us to slow down when we push ourselves too hard. When your legs hurt from biking for miles, you know you should take a break before you put too much stress on them and cause an injury.

Emotional pain is similarly helpful. It may seem counter-intuitive, but sadness is actually vital to our well-being. If, for example, we didn’t care about our pets, we wouldn’t be sad if they died. Sadness also signals to those around us that we need to be consoled and supported, and in the other direction, gives us the basic foundation for empathy,

In summary, pain is:

Necessary and unavoidable Clean and simple, even if unpleasant A “raw” experience that isn’t over-processed by thoughts

What is suffering? Unlike pain, suffering is messy. I like to think of it as something we wrap around pain like layers of gift wrap—you can pile it on, and it makes the original piece seem much bigger and more complicated, but it’s not necessary. Here’s what suffering looks like in action:

“Why is this arthritis happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?” “I always have the worst luck. I can’t believe my flight was canceled!” “I hate this cramping so much. When will it ever end?” “These migraines are never going to go away. I can’t take it.” “How come I ended up with the flu but my partner didn’t? It’s not fair.” “I’m young and healthy—I shouldn’t have back pain!”

You may notice that all of these examples are thoughts—things you might say to yourself. We all talk to ourselves constantly, maybe not out loud, or even through an inner monologue, but our brains do use words to describe and understand the world, including our own experiences in it.

  • You may also notice that these thoughts don’t accept the pain.
  • When I say “accept,” I’m not describing giving up.
  • Accepting means acknowledging that that pain is there and then simply allowing it to be.
  • This is what really sets pain and suffering apart—pain simply is; suffering cannot sit still.
  • Suffering wrestles with the pain, trying to deny it, or bargain with it, judging it, blaming it on someone, projecting into the future, regretting it from the past.

By doing all this, suffering becomes the center of your experience. An important note: none of the thoughts of suffering actually diminish the pain. Just because you keep telling yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling this bad doesn’t mean you’ll feel better.

“My stupid anxiety makes me so miserable. What’s wrong with me?” “What if I never get over this breakup? I can’t handle this.” “I shouldn’t be feeling so low. Other people have it even worse.”

When you judge an emotion like fear—”What’s wrong with me?”—what could be simple anxiety is now anxiety plus shame, When you judge sadness as a weakness, grief becomes grief plus guilt plus pressure to act happy even when happiness isn’t an authentic emotion. Source: Stock-Asso/Shutterstock How to let go of suffering Point blank, suffering sucks. So how do we get rid of it? 1. Let go of the idea that we can “get rid of” any experience we have Many of my patients aren’t fans of this recommendation. They (rightfully) wonder, “Isn’t the whole point of therapy to get rid of bad feelings?” But when was the last time you won a tug-of-war with anxiety or got rid of sadness for good? Our thoughts and emotions are real.

We will never stop experiencing them, and the more we try, the harder they come back, clamoring for attention, So instead of trying to struggle against suffering, let’s first accept that you are suffering. Let go of the goal to get rid of suffering. Turn your attention to what’s wrapped up inside the suffering—the pain.2.

Fully experience the pain and sit with it nonjudgmentally Whether it’s physical or emotional, simply sit with the feeling of pain without any distractions. If you find your mind judging the experience (“This is unfair! I hate this!”), that’s OK. Take a breath and gently get back to the “clean” experience of the original piece of pain—feel what it feels like, see where it is, watch it ebb and flow.

“My life has just been one big disappointment since I lost my job.” “I have to keep my anxiety under control or I’ll fall apart.” “Nobody wants to be with someone who’s depressed,”

In each of these examples, you can insert almost any unpleasant experience, sensation, or emotion. Notice how these stories make the pain the center of your identity as if it determines who you are and what your life means. But you can catch these stories as your brain tells them and call them out for what they are—simply stories.

You don’t have to believe them or follow their lead.4. Get back to allowing the pain Now that you’ve caught your brain telling you these stories, you don’t have to feel bad about them or get rid of them. Remember, there’s no way to get rid of your painful experiences—it’s enough to have noticed them. Once you have, gently turn your attention back to the pure, original pain and spend a little more time with it.

Breathe into it and say, “It’s OK that you’re there. I accept you.” Of course, this will not rid you of your pain. Don’t expect these steps to take away your bruised knee or a broken heart. The point isn’t to avoid pain—pain is unavoidable. The point is to notice and let go of suffering.

What happens if you never feel pain?

Description – Channelopathy-associated congenital insensitivity to pain is a condition that inhibits the ability to perceive physical pain. From birth, affected individuals never feel pain in any part of their body when injured. People with this condition can feel the difference between sharp and dull and hot and cold, but they cannot sense, for example, that a hot beverage is burning their tongue.

  1. Pain is a vital signal that helps people avoid danger and injuries.
  2. People who cannot feel pain experience more injuries and may have shorter life expectancies.
  3. The first signs of channelopathy-associated congenital insensitivity to pain often occur when an infant shows no response to stimuli such as an injury or medical procedures like vaccines.

Young children with this condition may have wounds from biting or burning themselves. A lack of pain awareness often leads individuals to develop wounds, bruises, broken bones, and other health issues that may go undetected. Long lasting joint injuries (often occurring alongside broken bones) can lead to joint deformities and often the loss of normal use of that body part. (anosmia). Channelopathy-associated congenital insensitivity to pain is considered a form of peripheral neuropathy because it affects the peripheral nervous system, which connects the brain and spinal cord to muscles and to cells that detect sensations such as touch, smell, and pain.

Why is suffering optional?

‘Suffering Is Optional points you toward deep, fundamental truths about your true nature and the nature of your experience. It doesn’t provide a fix for what you experience. It shows you that you are already perfect and whole regardless of what you experience.

What are the 12 stages of suffering?

Law of the Twelve Causes This law, also called The Doctrine of the Twelve-Link Chain of Dependent Origination, teaches that all phenomena in this world constantly change, appearing and disappearing, and that all changes are based on an established rule.

  1. Though all things change, this rule is immutable.
  2. We know it as the “Law of the Twelve Causes” because we divide the rule into twelve stages.
  3. However, it is easier for us to understanding this law by limiting it to man than by trying to apply it to all phenomena.
  4. The Buddha perched the “Law of the Twelve Causes” in detail to Ananda in the Dirgha-agama (Long Discourses) Sutra.

This law rules the growth of the human body as well as the changes in people’s mind. The former is called the “outer causation” and the latter the “inner causation”. It explains the process through which a human being is born, grows, ages, and dies in light of the three temporal states of existence, the past, present, and future.

In connection with this, it shows how people’s minds change and the fundamental method of purifying and of removing illusions from them. The twelve links or stages are (1) Ignorance, (2) Actions, (3) Consciousness, (4) Name and Form, (5) the Six Entrances (the five sense organs and the mind), (6) Contact, (7) Sensation,(8) Desire, (9) Clinging, (10) Existence, (11) Birth, and (12) Old Age and Death.

First we will explain the growth and changes of the human body, the outer causation. The first link of the Twelve Causes is Ignorance, Prior to our conception, nothing is known or sensed. When the ignorant spirit is conceived in the mother’s womb through the Action of sexual intercourse, Consciousness is produced.

Consciousness means “something living”. Here something like a human being (a fetus) is produced, although it is still incomplete. As the incomplete consciousness is gradually taking shape, it grows into name and form (mental functions and matter). “Name” means an immaterial being, spirit or soul, and “Form” indicates a material being, that is, the human body.

” Name and Form ” mean the human body with a soul. As “Name and Form” (mind and body) grow, they develop the “Six Entrance” such as the five sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body) and the mind by which we perceive the existence of things. At this time, we are still in the mother’s womb and incomplete.

  1. This stage is called the ” Six Entrances ” because the functions of our minds and bodies are on the point of dividing into six different senses.
  2. We are born into this world at the stage of the Six Entrances.
  3. When we grow to the age of two or three, the Six Entrances are completed and sensibility is developed.

That is, we become able to discern shapes, colors, sounds, smells, tastes, physical sensations, and so on. This stage is called ” Contact,” When this sensibility is further developed, feelings of like and dislike naturally develop. This state is called ” Sensation,” When such feelings appear, ” Desire ” for things arises spontaneously.

  • The Desire referred to here, means attachment, whose meaning is a little different for that of love as this word is commonly used.
  • In other words, this is a state of mind that has preferences and that clings to what it likes.
  • When we have Desire for something, we try to hold on to it.
  • Conversely, we try to avoid what we consider unpleasant or undesirable.) This is called ” Clinging,” “Clinging” leads to various feelings, ideas, and assertions.

This is called ” Existence “, which means the discriminating mind. Due to this discriminating mind, opposition and struggle occur among people, and human life as suffering unfolds. Such human life is called ” Birth “. Leading such a life of suffering. ” Old Age ” comes before one knows it, and finally one encounters ” Death “.

In short, the “Law of the Twelve Causes” teaches that you are born as an ordinary human being because of your ignorance in a previous life. The Law also teaches that if you eradicate your ignorance in the present world, the essential form of your life as it was meant to be will be revealed in your future life.

Here we should not limit the meaning of “future life” to life when we are reborn after death but should regard it rather as the life before us in the future. If we abandon (fundamental) ignorance and set our minds in the direction of the Law, a bright and serene future life will open up before us.

What did Socrates say about pain?

Table 1 – Key events in the time of Socrates

Year (BC) Events
500 First altar and sacred building for Asklepios erected in Epidauros
475 Pindar composes a poem to Asklepios speaking of him as a hero, not a god.
464 Socrates’s birth in Athens
431 Peloponnesian war starts, and Oracle at Delphi predicts Athens’s loss.
430 Pericles, the leader of Athens, attacks Epidauros in the first phase of the Peloponnesian war. Plague strikes Athens, and Athens erects a statue to Apollo in thanks for bringing an end to the plague in that year,
429 The plague returns. Pericles dies of unknown causes,
427-426 The plague returns a third time. When it finally ends, the state credits Apollo with saving Athens from the epidemic,
425? Delphic Oracle answers that Socrates is the wisest man in Athens; Socrates interprets that he is wisest only in that he knows that he knows little,
423 Aristophanes’ comedy Clouds makes fun of Socrates’ conception of the gods.
421 Free association between Athens and Epidauros restored with Peace of Nikias
420 Telemachus, a private individual, brings worship of Asklepios to Athens, founding a private shrine dedicated to his worship on the south slope of the Acropolis, Government approves private construction of the temple as it does for most foreign gods. Asklepios accepted in Athens, Athens again on brink of war with Epidauros,
411 Sparta supports the coup in Athens. An oligarchic government of 400 aristocrats is installed but is overthrown in four months,
410 Asklepios honored with a sacred precinct in Delphi,
408 Aristophanes’s Plutos first performed making fun of priests and healing rituals in the Asklepeion temples.
404 Peloponnesian War ends when Athens surrenders to Sparta. Sparta installs 30 tyrants over Athens,
403 Thirty tyrants overthrown, democracy restored,
401 Oligarchs likely planned a third coup attempt,
399 In the Euthyphro, Socrates goes to answer charges of impiety. In the Apology, Socrates is tried before a court of 500 Athenian citizens, is convicted by a small margin, and sentenced to death. In the Crito, Socrates’s best friend named Crito tries to convince Socrates to escape and flee Athens, but Socrates argues that it would not be honorable. In the Phaedo, Socrates is executed 30 days after his trial by being required to drink a potion of hemlock. Socrates’s friend Xenophon is exiled to Sparta,
360- 340 Cult of Asklepios is officially recognized by the state, comes under state control and is overseen by the democracy’s Council of 500,

But the worship of Asklepios was newly introduced in Athens during Socrates’s middle age. The Asklepeion in Athens was built with private funds without formal state sanction far from the city center. Yet the ideals promoted at the Athenian Asklepeion are clear and different from those of the state-supported gods in Athens.

The temple bears this inscription: “These are the duties of a physician.he would be like God savior equally of slaves, of paupers, of rich men, of princes, and to all a brother, such help he would give”, Evidence from the Platonic dialogues Much of what we know of Socrates and his ideas comes from the dialogues, authored by the Athenian aristocrat Plato.

These works are based on the first- and second-hand accounts of Socrates’s conversations with students and adversaries in Athens. Most authors deem these accounts generally reliable since they were published when many of the discussants could attest or dispute their accuracy,

  • The 500 Athenian citizens who witnessed Socrates’s defense would have been outraged if they had seen major inaccuracies in Plato’s Apology,
  • Additional contemporary historical accounts corroborate the dialogues’ depiction of the charges, trial, conviction, and execution of Socrates,
  • Throughout the dialogues, Socrates challenges the traditional Homeric conception of the gods that the state adopted as war propaganda.

Athens was an aggressive imperialist state during this time, charging protection fees to all the states in the Delian league, and starting the Peloponnesian War to protect its foreign interests. In the Phaedo Socrates notes, “for all wars arise for the sake of gaining money.”,

When he challenged the use of the state-approved gods to justify the pursuit of wealth and power, he publicly questioned the purposes of the state and its war. Socrates’s conviction for introducing new gods In the Euthyphro, Socrates goes to a porch of the Temple to Zeus, facing the Altar of the Twelve Gods to answer the charge of introducing new gods (Figure ​ 1 ),

This altar in the center of the agora was dedicated to the twelve major gods of Athens: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, Apollo, Artemis, Hephæstus, Athena, Ares, Aphrodite, and Hermes, Athens as it appeared in the 5th century BC The Altar of the 12 gods and the Stoa of Zeus, where Socrates was charged, are shown in the foreground of the Agora in the center of Athens. The Assembly is shown in the upper right where Socrates was tried, convicted and gave his apology.

  1. In the background of the Agora is the jail where he was held for 30 days and executed.
  2. The Asklepeion of Athens is far out of the center of Athens on the backside of the Acropolis and is not seen in this view.
  3. Drawing by Ru Dien-Jen from
  4. Used by permission.
  5. Asklepios was not represented in the agora.

His new temple was far from the city center of political power. Socrates could have looked to Apollo as the representative healing god whom the state credited with averting the plague (Table ​ 1 ). Instead, Socrates recognizes Apollo’s son, Asklepios who was delivered from his dying mother’s womb by his father in the first Apollonian delivery,

At this official place of public worship to the twelve major gods, Socrates challenges the very character of the traditional gods by arguing that real gods could never be biased or deceitful, The Oracle of Delphi had a significant relationship to Asklepios, Apollo, Athens, and Socrates during this period.

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The Pythia, Apollo’s priestesses at Delphi, were named for the Python, a great dragon snake killed by Apollo at Delphi, the center of the world. The highest priestess of the Pythian Apollo served as the Oracle, communicating with the spirits of the underworld and relating truths from the spiritual realm.

  • Asklepios was a chthonic deity, a god in touch with the earthly underworld, the world of spirits, like Demeter, Pluto, and Orpheus who were worshiped at Delphi,
  • Like many other chthonic deities, Asklepios was represented as a snake or with a snake, the ancient healing symbol still used to represent the power of medicine.

Although Athens controlled Delphi politically, the messages of the Pythia favored Sparta during the Peloponnesian War, causing resentment in Athens. Simultaneously, Delphic oracles aggressively promoted Asklepios and favored Epidauros, Sparta’s neighbor, as the center of Asklepian worship (Table ​ 1 ).

  • During this period, Athenians regarded Delphi, Epidauros, and Asklepios with suspicion, but Socrates had great respect for the Delphic oracle.
  • Likewise, the Delphic oracle had great respect for Socrates, naming him the wisest of all Athenians,
  • At trial, Socrates was accused of rejecting the state’s gods (Greek: theous ), introducing new spiritual beings (Greek: daimonia kaina ) and corrupting the youth with these ideas.

Garland notes it is Socrates’s new way of viewing the gods that Aristophanes satirizes in his play “The Clouds” that was well known to all Athenians, Some have suggested that the only new god Socrates was convicted of promoting was his own inner voice, which he likened to a personal spirit (Greek: daimonion ) that spoke to him in the same way the god spoke directly to the Pythia at Delphi, a bold assertion that further threatened the authority of the Athenian government,

  1. Socrates was likely viewed as a pro-Spartan because of his perceived support for oligarchy and rule by the best, rather than full participatory democracy,
  2. He educated the same type of aristocratic youth that connived with Sparta to overthrow the democracy in 411, 404, and 401 BC (Table ​ 1 ),
  3. Socrates denied participating in these plots, and substantial evidence indicates his strong preference for democracy.

However, it remains likely that the Athenians feared he would corrupt youth with Spartan political ideas, Socrates’s dying words of thanks for healing In the Phaedo, the dialogue depicting Socrates’s final conversation and execution, Plato focuses on what the transition of death means for the spiritual health of the individual.

  1. Socrates identifies the mind or soul (Greek: psyche ) as the natural leader of the individual, one’s essential and immortal part.
  2. The body, which racks a person with pleasures and pains, imprisons the soul until it finds freedom and healing in death.
  3. Socrates says the soul of the philosopher seeks to free itself from the bondage of bodily pleasures and pain, to abide with the divine “making that its only food to be free from human ills”,

The individual virtues first introduced in The Republic – self-restraint, justice, courage, and wisdom – “are a kind of purification” from the pleasures, pains, and concerns of the body. Socrates notes that the soul upon death “goes away into that which is like itself, into the invisible, divine, immortal, and wise, and when it arrives there, it is happy to be freed from error and folly and dear and fierce loves.”,

  • Once free from the body and its impurities, one can finally attain the truth.
  • Socrates encourages his friends by telling them of the heavenly world of mind, ideas, and soul, describing it as an “upper world” of ideal forms, “pure, not corroded or defiled, as ours is, with filth and brine which causes ugliness and diseases”,

When two of the students, Simmias and Cebes, express their persistent fear of death, the group recognizes Socrates as their physician. The narrator Phaedo notes “the skill with which he cured us”, Socrates says they have no reason to mourn unless their fears of death overcome their souls, and he sets out as their physician to cure them of these fears.

  • Although Socrates begins his discussion with his friends in the Phaedo by recognizing death as a great good, he acknowledges that people, as proper servants to the gods, have no right to take their own lives, but “must wait for some other benefactor”,
  • Contrary to the popular belief that Socrates committed suicide, most commentators agree that he did not,

Rather, he was executed by a city-state that was threatened and angered by his criticism. It is true that Socrates could have avoided execution by fleeing his beloved homeland and living in exile for the rest of his life. In fact, Socrates’s friends encouraged him to escape and avoid execution in the Crito and Phaedo,

  1. But Socrates refused this easy path out because of his respect for Athens’ democratic constitution, and thus he was duly executed by the very people and the government he honored.
  2. The hemlock pharmakos Socrates’s last words are not incidental, but rather are carefully staged by Plato.
  3. In the last minutes of his life, Socrates is given two initial opportunities to charge his followers with special duties following his death.

First, Crito asks him specifically if he has any special requests for his friends. Then, when Socrates receives the potion of hemlock, he asks if he can pour out a portion of it as a libation to the gods. When he is told that the full draught is necessary to give him a sufficient dose, he instead offers a prayer to the gods for a safe passage.

Only at the very brink of this passage—as the sun sets, and after he has taken the poison, laid down, covered his face, and felt his body begin to go numb—does he uncover his face one last time and ask that a debt be paid to Asklepios. The deliberate timing of Socrates’s final request suggests that Socrates recognizes that healing has begun to occur.

How could this be? The Greek word pharmakos means both poison and remedy, Socrates sees the hemlock as a medicine that frees him from the fetters of pain and pleasure (Figure ​ 2 ). The oldest meaning of the word pharmakos is scapegoat, the blameless victim that was sacrificed to take the blame merited by the unhealthy citizens and to carry disease and pestilence from the town. Socrates depicted as both doctor and patient in his last hour Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates, 1787. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain. The Phaedo opens with a description of the annual commemorative voyage conducted in thanks to the god Apollo for his saving of the best of the youth of Athens from certain death.

  1. On the day of Socrates’s conviction, a ship leaves for Crete commemorating the journey of Theseus and 13 other youth and maiden pharmakoi sent to be sacrificed to the Minotaur.
  2. In this mythical journey, Theseus took the place of the 13 others and killed the Minotaur in the depths of the labyrinth.
  3. By law, all executions were deferred until the return of the commemorative ship, and Socrates’s execution in the Phaedo occurs on the day of its return (Table).

Socrates is depicted as a new Theseus who takes the place of his 13 friends present at his execution, The Phaedo ends with a thanks offering to Apollo’s son Asklepios for a different sort of rescue, the rebirth of the soul after death. Socrates’s taking of the pharmaceutical hemlock evokes meaning at two major levels.

  • First, the potion cures him personally of the fever of life, purifying him and allowing him to enter the spirit world.
  • Second, the potion reminds us that Socrates himself serves as a pharmakos for his young friends.
  • He both takes the blame that they might merit as young aristocrats fomenting change in Athens and cures them of their fear of death.

He purges them of their love of wealth, power, honor, and the physical body and fosters their love of knowledge and the universal ideas of the spiritual world. Throughout the dialogue, he recognizes the dual nature of pharmakoi ; all such cures are also potential poisons, and life comes from death.

  1. The jailer, who carries out Socrates’s execution by giving him hemlock, transforms from executioner into pharmacist-healer.
  2. As the potion causes Socrates’s body to chill, he loses feeling and awareness of his body.
  3. The numbness slowly moves up from Socrates’s feet to his thighs.
  4. The man administering the poison pinches his feet hard, and Socrates does not feel it.

When the chill reaches his groin, Socrates gives us his last words: “Crito, we owe a cock to Asklepios – Pay it and do not neglect it”, Why did Socrates choose these words about Asklepios as his last? Although many previous authors have speculated about this,, they have not fully recognized the importance of Asklepian ideals in Socratic thought.

  1. Socrates was clearly guilty of rejecting the warlike gods promoted by the state, advocating the worship of new and better gods like Asklepios, and educating the youth with these ideas.
  2. Asklepios was known as the “good physician,” who so loved others that he lost his own life bringing others back from the dead,

The cock, which gives hopeful proclamation of the coming new day, symbolized rebirth and afterlife for ancient Greeks and was the traditional thank offering given to the healing god Asklepios, Socrates is simply offering thanks and pointing to the afterlife.

He invokes the only god known to revive the dead, who Socrates suggests with his last words has already helped heal both Socrates himself and his followers from the fever of earthly life, Socrates calls us from the past to honor timeless Asklepian ideals for the benefit of ourselves, our patients, and our community.

In his last words, Socrates remembers his student-friends, saying that “we” owe a debt to the healing divinity, By remembering others in his last moments, Socrates exemplifies the healer’s virtue of altruism and gives guidance to medical educators today regarding the level of devotion the best teachers have for their students and how they strive to heal their students’ ills.

On a personal level, Socrates reminds his followers to make their own spiritual health their first priority. His words evoke the ancient Greek proverb, “Physician, heal thyself”. Socrates calls physicians to life in recognition that they, along with all their patients, are on a path to healing. He thanks Asklepios for his release from earthly concerns and passage to a new life in the spiritual world, and for his students’ release from their fear of death.

On a professional level, Socrates’s words encourage modern physicians to emphasize patient comfort, the alleviation of suffering, and the promotion of abundant life even at the time of death. His words suggest that physician healers, like Asklepios, have a moral obligation to speak out for the weak, vulnerable, sick, and suffering.

What is the paradox of pain?

This so-called paradox of pain is the idea that our ordinary conception of pain is incoherent, split between a bodily conception of pain, characterized by Location, and a mental conception of pain, characterized by Subjectivity.

What does Plato say about suffering?

In every succession of life and death, you will do and suffer what like may fitly suffer at the hands of like. This is the justice of heaven. Injustice is censured because the censures are afraid of suffering, and not from any fear which they have of doing injustice.

What is the difference between pain and suffering?

Literature Review – The words pain and suffering are often used interchangeably. For example, definitions of pain in the dictionary include bodily suffering, mental/emotional suffering, or distress, and suffering is defined as the bearing of pain or distress.3 It is understandable that these words are intertwined in relation to cancer patients in pain.

  • However, there are distinctions.
  • Pain is a physical sensation or signal indicating an event within the body.
  • Suffering is the interpretation of that event and involves thoughts, beliefs, or judgments, 4, 5 and reflects the human experience of pain.
  • Pain can cause suffering when it is uncontrolled or persists.

Uncontrolled pain can lead to further physical impact and to major disruption in quality of life (QOL). Uncontrolled pain has deleterious effects on one’s outlook on life, 6 often creating a sense of hopelessness. Chronic pain not only affects QOL but may predispose one to further complications psychologically and physically.5, 7, 8 It is well known that pain does not occur in isolation but affects all aspects of QOL, including physical, psychological, social, and spiritual.

Pain can cause or worsen other existing physical symptoms such as disturbing sleep, diminishing function, decreasing appetite, or increasing fatigue.6, 7, 9 – 11 Psychologically, pain can cause or exacerbate depression, anxiety, uncertainty, or loss of control.6, 9, 11 Pain is also associated with persistent depression in cancer survivors.10 Socially, pain can impede interaction with others, sexual function, work, and relationships.6 – 8 Pain can affect spirituality, causing existential questions of meaning, faith, and fatalism.6, 9 Spirituality has been defined over the years in different ways.

Frankl 12 emphasized meaning, and Pargament 13 stressed interconnectedness and transcendence. The most recent definition comes from a national consensus conference and states that “Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose, and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature and to the significant or sacred.” 14 (p25) The importance of spirituality for cancer patients cannot be overstated.

This was demonstrated in the work of Alcorn et al 15 and later expanded by Balboni and colleagues, 16 where most patients reported spirituality or religion as important to their cancer experience. Five themes emerged from interviews: (1) coping (able to endure); (2) spiritual practices (praying and prayer for strength as most prevalent); (3) beliefs (in terms of personal beliefs); (4) transformation (changes in spiritual/religious beliefs related to the cancer experience); and (5) community (spiritual support).

Further studies in various settings and languages reported similar findings.17 – 19 In Astrow and colleagues’ 17 work with 727 patients with differing ethnicities, languages, and religions in four outpatient settings, most patients reported at least one spiritual need.

  1. Needing help with finding hope, prayer, or meditation, meaning in the illness experience, and relationship with God or other were the most frequently cited needs.
  2. Over half of the respondents considered themselves spiritual but not religious, and those patients had greater spiritual needs.
  3. Associated with higher spiritual needs were a perceived lower quality of care and less satisfaction with care.

Over half of the patients thought it was acceptable for a physician to inquire about a patient’s religious beliefs when taking their social history and just under half thought it acceptable to ask about spiritual needs. Selman and colleagues 19 conducted focus groups in nine countries in Europe, the United States, and Africa with 74 patients and caregivers.

  1. Common patient spiritual concerns included asking “why?,” searching for meaning and purpose related to illness, and in life, as well as questions about God and personal faith.
  2. Using five prominent databases, Mesquita et al 18 reviewed and synthesized literature on spiritual needs of cancer patients receiving palliative care.

From 695 records screened, 16 primary studies met the study criteria. Eight groups of spiritual needs were identified and were similar to the aforementioned. They included needs for meaning and purpose of life; meaning in the disease experience; connecting to God, others, and nature; religious and spiritual practices; well-being physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually.

  1. Additional spiritual needs specific to this study included conversations about death and dying; making the best of time left; and being treated as a normal, independent person.
  2. Unmet spiritual needs are known to impact QOL and cause suffering.
  3. Patients struggling spiritually (eg, feeling abandoned by God) and seeking spiritually (eg, meaning of life) have worse overall psychological well-being and QOL.20, 21 A spiritual concern negatively affecting psychological well-being is doubting one’s belief in God.21 Not receiving desired spiritual care is associated with symptoms of depression and diminished meaning and peace.20 Conversely, spirituality and religiousness, specifically meaning, hope, and peace, were associated with fewer symptoms of depression.22 The word suffering has varied connotations and is frequently viewed as deserved or undeserved.

It is common to see the terms suffering and pain used synonymously. Yet, while suffering and pain are related, they also represent separate concepts.23 Cassell 24 (p221) defines suffering as “the specific distress that happens when persons feel that their intactness or integrity is threatened or is disintegrating, and it continues until the threat is gone or intactness or integrity is restored.” Cassell further asserts that suffering is caused not only by the event itself but also what that means to the person with regard to the future.

For Frankl, 12 what was worse than suffering was suffering without meaning, and this he called despair, He frequently cited Nietzsche’s 25 words “He who has a “why” to live for can bear with almost any how.” 12 (p76) These words apply to cancer patients who desperately search for meaning in their illness experience or as they face pain.

Patients with cancer experience multiple losses leading to suffering. Physical losses may include loss of function(s), independence, and normalcy, and experiencing pain can add to those losses.2, 6, 11, 26, 27 Existential losses may include loss of dignity, hope, and faith, as well as raising existential questions about meaning of life, meaning of the illness experience, and God’s perceived abandonment.6, 28, 29 Pain can add to these losses as well.

Liu et al 6 cited a patient expressing the wish to die because life had become meaningless as a result of uncontrolled pain, and another patient feeling tortured from pain. In another study, pain was found to be the most substantial cause of suffering for patients with cancer.30 As Cassell 24 (p219) states, “Suffering is suffering.” In some studies, spirituality has been associated with lower pain levels and decreased symptoms, as well as buffering against a reduced QOL.31 Psychological suffering from cancer may occur from loss of a sense of self, a loss of control, or feeling helpless.6, 27, 28 Suffering can be exacerbated further by those entrusted to provide care.

Liu et al 6 reported inadequate knowledge of pain management exacerbated the patients’ pain and suffering. A study by Berglund et al 32 described four areas of suffering: (1) feelings of being mistreated; (2) fighting for health care needs including pain medications; (3) feeling powerless; and (4) feeling objectified.

Feelings of being mistreated stemmed from not being listened to, when symptoms were ignored, when no time was provided for questions, or when the patient felt he or she was not being taken seriously. Other patients felt powerless when health care professionals did not encourage them to be part of their own care.

Additionally, when patients felt secondary to their disease and their experiences were not considered, they felt objectified. Best et al 27 highlighted the difficulty patients have in articulating their suffering. If health care professionals do not acknowledge existential distress either from lack of knowledge or discomfort, they will miss their patient’s suffering.

Who said pain is inevitable suffering is not?

Henepola Gunaratana quote: Pain is inevitable, suffering is not.

What is the difference between pain and suffering in Buddhism?

Pain vs Suffering – In Buddhism, “pain” refers to the initial physical or emotional sensation that we feel in response to a stimulus, which is a healthy and evolutionarily adaptive response. “Suffering,” on the other hand, refers to everything that comes after the initial injury.

Suffering is something we ourselves create. It is caused by our response or reaction to our pain, rather than by the pain itself. In the lesson, which has been translated from the SallathaSutta, the Buddha teaches this: ” When touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, and laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught.

So he feels 2 pains: physical and mental. Just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, were to shoot him with another one, so that he would feel the pains of 2 arrowsAs he is touched by that painful feeling, he is resistantSensing a feeling of pain, he senses it as though joined with itHe is joined, I tell you, with suffering and stress.