Tag Archives | suffering

On There Not Being Enough Suffering in the World

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Michael Steinberg writes at Open Salon:

As John Cage tells the story, D.T. Suzuki–the man who did the most to bring Zen to the West–was once asked by an earnest listener if he didn’t think there was too much suffering in the world. His reply was that there was exactly the right amount.

He was by no means being callous, though he may have been testy. (How much suffering would his listener have found tolerable?) Suzuki himself was far from unfeeling and he mourned his wife’s death very deeply. His point, though, was a simple one. The world is what it is, and given its history it can’t be any different. We couldn’t have this world with a different amount of suffering in it any more than we could have this world with flying monkeys. It would then be a different world and that world, too, would have exactly as much suffering in it as was necessary.

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Panpsychism And The Universality of Consciousness

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To what extent do animals share our sense of consciousness? Some of our Disinfonauts may enjoy this piece by Scientific American’s Cristoph Koch.

I grew up in a devout and practicing Roman Catholic family with Purzel, a fearless and high-energy dachshund. He, as with all the other, much larger dogs that subsequently accompanied me through life, showed plenty of affection, curiosity, playfulness, aggression, anger, shame and fear. Yet my church teaches that whereas animals, as God’s creatures, ought to be treated well, they do not possess an immortal soul. Only humans do. Even as a child, to me this belief felt intuitively wrong. These gorgeous creatures had feelings, just like I did. Why deny them? Why would God resurrect people but not dogs? This core Christian belief in human exceptionalism did not make any sense to me. Whatever consciousness and mind are and no matter how they relate to the brain and the rest of the body, I felt that the same principle must hold for people and dogs and, by extension, for other animals as well.

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Spiritual Bypassing: Using Spirituality To Avoid Pain

Author and psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters outlines a pervasive phenomenon in contemporary New Age spirituality, spiritual bypassing:

Via Reality Sandwich:

Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.

Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing “solutions,” regardless of how much suffering such “remedies” may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects.

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Man Has Raised His Arm Continuously For 38 Years

mahantamarbhartiji190911_630Is his now-gnarled arm a beacon of peace? A symbol of rejection of earthly pleasures? A crystal-clear example of the insanity of religion? In pondering Amar Mahant’s arm, everyone will see what they want to see — like a Cheeto said to resemble both Jesus and Elvis. Via the West Australian:

In 1970 Amar Mahant [of New Delhi] left his job, family and friends to dedicate himself to his religious beliefs. In 1973, the clerk raised his hand in honour of Hindu deity Shiva – and he hasn’t put it down since. It’s now been 38 years.

Amar’s followers claim his sacrifice is a beacon of peace, while others say he has given up the use of a limb in order to separate himself from the pleasures of mortal life.

Amar’s sacrifice has turned his arm into a useless stump of flesh and bone, with a gnarled hand and unclipped fingernails hanging from the end.

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