Why should we seek to limit suffering?

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Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Khrone » Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:48 am

Recently, I've been embracing the core tenets of Buddhism (4 noble truths, 8-fold path) and have found that (at least for my self) they do lessen suffering.
But the question that I always ask myself is "Why should one seek to limit/abolish suffering?"
I can't find any sound reasons so I figured I'd ask you guys.
Any ideas?
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Philosopher8659 » Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:37 am

Khrone wrote:Recently, I've been embracing the core tenets of Buddhism (4 noble truths, 8-fold path) and have found that (at least for my self) they do lessen suffering.
But the question that I always ask myself is "Why should one seek to limit/abolish suffering?"
I can't find any sound reasons so I figured I'd ask you guys.
Any ideas?


Perhaps you cannot find an answer to the question is because it is not a question to begin with. Suffering is a relative term, and you no where even implied that you knew what those terms are.

One of the faults of looking for a doctrine, instead of looking how to do you job as mind, is that you are looking for someone else to do your job for you, to think for you, and then when you try to think for yourself, you find yourself quite unprepared and quite unable to do it.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby gib » Sun Nov 27, 2011 7:02 am

Khrone wrote:Recently, I've been embracing the core tenets of Buddhism (4 noble truths, 8-fold path) and have found that (at least for my self) they do lessen suffering.
But the question that I always ask myself is "Why should one seek to limit/abolish suffering?"
I can't find any sound reasons so I figured I'd ask you guys.
Any ideas?


One shouldn't seek to limit or abolish suffering because suffering is a part of life (isn't that the first noble truth, after all?). Suffering prompts us to abolishing itself. I say fine, let it. One really shouldn't try one way or another. One shouldn't wish it were otherwise, and stew in misery because suffering exists in the world. Acceptance of suffering is the best way to be content with life and at rest.

Nietzsche is very instructive here, I find.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Stoic Guardian » Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:41 am

The reason people try too limit suffering is because it doesn't feel good.
"Fascism combats, and must combat, without respite or pity, not intelligence, but intellectualism—which is, as I have indicated, a sickness of the intellect" - Giovanni Gentile

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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Bob » Sun Nov 27, 2011 1:37 pm

gib wrote:
Khrone wrote:Recently, I've been embracing the core tenets of Buddhism (4 noble truths, 8-fold path) and have found that (at least for my self) they do lessen suffering.
But the question that I always ask myself is "Why should one seek to limit/abolish suffering?"
I can't find any sound reasons so I figured I'd ask you guys.
Any ideas?


One shouldn't seek to limit or abolish suffering because suffering is a part of life (isn't that the first noble truth, after all?). Suffering prompts us to abolishing itself. I say fine, let it. One really shouldn't try one way or another. One shouldn't wish it were otherwise, and stew in misery because suffering exists in the world. Acceptance of suffering is the best way to be content with life and at rest.

Nietzsche is very instructive here, I find.

Nietzsche is dead, and I believe he didn't enjoy dying either. Do you ever leave your head for some in-body experience?

Krohne,
1. Life means suffering.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering is the eightfold path.

Why should we reduce suffering? - Because we can!

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The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby gib » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:24 am

Bob wrote:Nietzsche is dead, and I believe he didn't enjoy dying either. Do you ever leave your head for some in-body experience?


What does that mean?
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby anon » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:01 pm

Khrone wrote:Recently, I've been embracing the core tenets of Buddhism (4 noble truths, 8-fold path) and have found that (at least for my self) they do lessen suffering.
But the question that I always ask myself is "Why should one seek to limit/abolish suffering?"
I can't find any sound reasons so I figured I'd ask you guys.
Any ideas?

Nobody wants to suffer - if they do, it's for it's usefulness in providing some kind of satisfaction. That's a descriptive truth (assuming you're not bothered by its apparent circularity), not a prescriptive truth. It's perhaps the primary characteristic of sentience. Why do you eat? Because you suffer. Why do you stretch your legs? Because you suffer. Why do you take up Buddhism? Because you suffer. Why do you question what you're doing? Because you suffer. There is an itch; therefore, you scratch. If you resist scratching, it's because you've determined it to be the best way to deal with your itch.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby anon » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:08 pm

In other words Khrone, "Why should we seek to limit suffering?" is a great question to ask yourself. There are even Buddhist practices that encourage you to take on the suffering of others! But to have the strength to do such a thing, and to investigate the nature of reality, you can't be suffering too much. If you're in a constant state of paranoia, for instance, you can hardly function in this world at all. But seeking some kind of heavenly existence for yourself isn't really the Buddhist way.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby felix dakat » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:22 pm

According to my experience, acceptance of suffering itself can hardly be adopted without becoming a strategy for reducing suffering. If your goal is to suffer, resist suffering, you will almost surely increase it.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby turtle » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:55 pm

i want everyone to eliminate suffering because it would help ME....i dont want to suffer..
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby tentative » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:32 pm

If the internet suddenly disappeared, would that cause you to suffer? :o There are two sorts of suffering and both exist on a continuum. First, there is physical suffering, usually in the form of physical pain that cannot be avoided. Smash your thumb under a hammer and there is definitely "suffering". But the suffering being referenced here is the suffering "between the ears" variety. Not only can such suffering be limited, it can be banished. Suffering is attachment. Whether it's the internet, your favorite bathtub toy, or a relationship with a significant other. As long as you attempt to "fix" the universe, you will promote your own suffering. Life is process, not some fixed artifact like a piece of furniture. All things are born and die, come and go, including ourselves. When you let life flow through you, suffering ceases to exist. This isn't detachment, but apprehending and grasping the essential. We make this life more meaningful given our opportunities, but nothing exists forever and letting go of all forms of attachment is the end of suffering.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Khrone » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:06 am

Thanks for the replies.
A lot of different answers, all of which are food for thought.
But I don't feel any of them are exactly right; guess I'll just have to find myself an answer that works for me.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Tirrikindir » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:21 am

I'm a Christian, not a Buddhist, so I'm probably seeing everything from a different angle. However, I think it is a mistake to think that eliminating suffering is a worthwhile goal by itself. Obviously, suffering is bad, and if everything else is equal it is reasonable to choose not to suffer. We never get that kind of choice, though.

Suffering is something we have to endure throughout the course of our lives. In order to reach good things, we have to suffer. To get paid, you need to work. In order to learn, you have to study. I realize that some people get lucky and are just born smarter or richer. More importantly, though, love (charity) requires suffering. Altruism, the most admirable human trait, necessarily embodies a risk of suffering.

At this point, I'm starting into Christian moral theology, but it completes the story on suffering. Suffering is not so much something that is bad by itself, as it is a symptom of other things being wrong. It is a symptom of being a flawed person in a flawed world. "In the beginning", as it were, there was no suffering, but when sin entered the world so did death and all forms of suffering. The Christian goal is to eliminate the sin, not the suffering, though of course once the sin is gone the suffering will be gone too. It's kind of like a sick person having a fever. You want the fever to go down, but what you're really worried about is the virus, not the symptom.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Duality » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:05 am

Khrone wrote:Thanks for the replies.
A lot of different answers, all of which are food for thought.
But I don't feel any of them are exactly right; guess I'll just have to find myself an answer that works for me.

so what are you buddhism for then?

just as a fad thing?
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"Those then who know not wisdom and virtue, and are always busy with gluttony and sensuality, go down and up again as far as the mean; and in this region they move at random throughout life, but they never pass into the true upper world; thither they neither look, nor do they ever find their way, neither are they truly filled with true being, nor do they ever taste of pure and abiding pleasure." -Socrates
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby anon » Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:43 pm

Tirrikindir wrote:I'm a Christian, not a Buddhist, so I'm probably seeing everything from a different angle. However, I think it is a mistake to think that eliminating suffering is a worthwhile goal by itself. Obviously, suffering is bad, and if everything else is equal it is reasonable to choose not to suffer. We never get that kind of choice, though.

Suffering is something we have to endure throughout the course of our lives. In order to reach good things, we have to suffer. To get paid, you need to work. In order to learn, you have to study. I realize that some people get lucky and are just born smarter or richer. More importantly, though, love (charity) requires suffering. Altruism, the most admirable human trait, necessarily embodies a risk of suffering.

At this point, I'm starting into Christian moral theology, but it completes the story on suffering. Suffering is not so much something that is bad by itself, as it is a symptom of other things being wrong. It is a symptom of being a flawed person in a flawed world. "In the beginning", as it were, there was no suffering, but when sin entered the world so did death and all forms of suffering. The Christian goal is to eliminate the sin, not the suffering, though of course once the sin is gone the suffering will be gone too. It's kind of like a sick person having a fever. You want the fever to go down, but what you're really worried about is the virus, not the symptom.

Well said. From just this post, it doesn't sound like you're seeing it from a different angle. As a Buddhist, I think you've presented the Buddhist view quite well.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Arcturus Descending » Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:39 pm

Khrone wrote:Recently, I've been embracing the core tenets of Buddhism (4 noble truths, 8-fold path) and have found that (at least for my self) they do lessen suffering.
But the question that I always ask myself is "Why should one seek to limit/abolish suffering?"
I can't find any sound reasons so I figured I'd ask you guys.
Any ideas?

We can't abolish suffering because it is part of the human factor but we do have the ability to learn to be more self-aware as we are experiencing it. That may help us to realize that some of the ways - and reasons for which we suffer are not very meaningful or necessary.
But why wouldn't we seek to limit suffering unless we are pathological masochists who derive a lot of pleasure out of being miserable? We have just as much right to happiness as we have the right to grow and expand as a result of our suffering.
Whether we have only one life or more to live, isn't it practical and wise to do what we can to at least limit ours and others' suffering? Isn't it just a plainly reasonable thing to do?
I think if we sat down and made out a list of all the things which create pain and suffering in us - things which we allow, and then really took a good, long look at them, we might be able to whittle them down. If we asked ourselves just how important this or this or that will be to us in a week...or a month...or six months...or a year - and be totally
honest about it, we might be surprised how practically nihilistic we would become and how much happier we can be.

Happiness is not immoral; neither is suffering for our growth - we just need to find a middle ground and be kinder to ourselves.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby Khrone » Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:04 pm

Duality wrote:so what are you buddhism for then?

just as a fad thing?

Life was bringing me down and we were going over southeast asian art in my art history class.
I figured I might as well try eliminating desire and see if it lessened suffering and it did.
But i've never been someone to do something just because its what I'm told or because it makes life hurt less.
So I've been thinking about why we should rid ourselves of suffering for a few weeks and striving for an answer.
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Re: Why should we seek to limit suffering?

Postby statiktech » Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:19 pm

In seeking to limit suffering, you're reducing the need for pleasure as a counter-balance. What could be closer to real freedom than living in absence of hope and fear?
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