Monday, August 07, 2006

Pain and Suffering

July 08
There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief

Pain and Suffering, you can't avoid them, you can't defeat them. Like levels in a video game, pain and suffering will never cease, only be repeated until learned and then exchanged for new & possibly more severe troubles. Why? I think that the question points out a misunderstanding of the game of Life.

Life is not played, lived to gain Things. Life is lived to gain skills in living - to forge purer & more solid character, a more refined and expanded, well rounded soul. In this life, nothing lasts but that and in the off chance that there is another life, you will be unable to take anything other than YOU with you.

This is not to denegrate or devalue Things and/or the desire for them - only an admonition to be sure that their pursuit and gain accomplishes Value and that that is done in the service of other higher Values.

I think that everyone must admit that there is a secret and dangerous, pleasure and satisfaction in the sentiment of complaint and self pity. There is inherent in it an opportunity for communing with yourself, of being able to exalt yourself, your standing and your worthiness of attention and sympathy from others.

Something to think on here is Milton's description of Satan sitting in Hell contemplating himself alone. Your misery becomes magnified, and by association, you become magnified - at least in your mind - but only in your mind. In the reality still existing around, you become withdrawn and lessened. The individual should never lose sight of the value of authentic individuality, but they should also never lose sight of the fact that cutting himself off from others, from the life around you, limits and lessens, reduces, the size and scope of the values and experience possible to you.

And at root, that focus forms and springs from the root of all evil - the desire for the unearned. As if releasing the controls of a video game to let the play smash all around and into your player would generate admiration for your skill at playing! Outrageous!

Whenever we turn to our own unproductive obsessions, we also engage in a related form of this. It's a chance to wallow in a stagnating bath of "you-ness", without developing & improving You in the least. It is only in turning your interests to productive action that any value is created - in which You are created.

This will not ease the experience of pain and suffering. Will not aleviate it. The death of a loved one will only ever be horrible. Understanding all of this will not free you from experiencing pain and suffering. Understanding all of this will only add to your experience of it an added layer of awareness of the sublime.

No one should seek after suffering, and you mustn't ignore, or try to downplay it, or even attempt to in some wierd way to revere it, only try to learn some value from the context of its experience, and grow from it, and live on.

That is what we do. That is Life.

Pain and Suffering, you can't avoid them, you can't defeat them, you can only rise above them by acknowledging them and accepting them - not focusing on them, but just accepting them - and moving on with them, towards your Values.

In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.-- Aeschylus


Retriever said...

Have always loved that Aeschylus quote.

Very good post. As I tediously remind my high school and college aged kids when they whine about life's misfortunes, God cares more about your struggles towards holiness than whether you are happy or not.

Van Harvey said...

Retriever said "Have always loved that Aeschylus quote."

Thanks Retriever. I've been rereading some Aeschylus and Sophocles lately, mixed in with some 'lighter fare'... strange how some of the lighter fare seems feels much more of a slog to get through, so rarely do they provide those treats for the soul which Aeschylus and Sophocles practically wholly consist of.

"As I tediously remind my high school and college aged kids when they whine about life's misfortunes..."

Yep, I think it comes from eating the wrong fare first.