suffering

[New? Start here: http://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/how-to-do-foregroundbackground-meditation/]

Suffering is when you deploy your pre-learned objects and they don’t isomorphically cover what hurts. If your “map” is language, concepts, and ideas (and therefore what you can easily attend to and select out out of the background), and the “territory” is your pain, then your degree of suffering in any moment is precisely the mismatch between the two.

Another way to look at it is that suffering is when you don’t have words for your pain.

Yet another way to look at is is suffering is when your attentional system isn’t (yet) flexible, nimble, creative enough, and fast enough to bring all your pain into the foreground at once, and isn’t able to keep up with it as it evolves over time. (Meditation of course helps you get better at this.)

You can also have “resistance” to bringing your pain into the foreground, because you rightly or wrongly belief that naming your fear/pain will destroy you. This contributes to suffering, too. (See Coherence Therapy.)

It can be really hard to name your pain. Sometimes it’s so, so far outside of the way you normally think about self and world that it all just keeps slipping out of your attentional grasp. (See Focusing and Coherence Therapy.)

Anyway, the pain can still be excruciating. You desperately want it to stop. It’s tearing you apart. But at least you’re not suffering. Fuck yeah. Worth it.

There’s no escape from pain except for changing your beliefs (maps; cognitive memory, emotional memory) or reality (territory; health, life situation, relationships…).

Also, sometimes you should just distract yourself and watch TV or surf Reddit or something.

One thought on “suffering

  1. jimmy

    “Anyway, the pain can still be excruciating. You desperately want it to stop. It’s tearing you apart. But at least you’re not suffering. Fuck yeah. Worth it.”

    That seems like a weird description to me. I’ve experienced what I’d call “intense pain without suffering”, but I wouldn’t say I “desperately wanted it to stop” or any of the rest really. I didn’t particularly care if the pain stopped since it wasn’t bothersome and it wasn’t dominating my attention – it was just *there*. Just a signal of a real problem. I *did* very much want to not be hurt, but that thought wasn’t really demanding attention either since I had accepted that I *was* hurt and knew I was already doing everything to address it. Less like “Ahhh! I wish I wasn’t hurt!” and more like “Of course I’d like to not be hurt. I’d also like a billion dollars”

    Are you talking about something different?

    “Another way to look at it is that suffering is when you don’t have words for your pain.”

    This statement is pretty close to something I might say, but I’m not sure if it exactly matches. I’d probably say that “having words for your pain” isn’t quite sufficient for preventing suffering. What kind of words would you need to stop suffering if you’re dealing with physical pain from breaking your foot, for example?

    Reply

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