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Do you believe suffering has a role in character growth? - Page 2

post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlainandTall View Post

AI do not think that suffering is the best way to develop character. Suffering can break and ruin people, make them heartless, cruel, spiteful, resentful, full of fear and unwilling to love. While some people do develop positive traits that were tempered in their hardship, I won't agree that the same person could not have learned the same lesson another way. For example a child of a wealthy family is taught values of philanthropy. On a family vacation at a resort, he is profoundly impacted by the sight of a child with a cleft lip begging. He finishes med school and spends his summers working to train third world physicians how to repair cleft palettes. What character advantage does an empoverished child with a birth defect have over him... suffering yes... but I don't think the son of privelege is missing out because his life was blessed. If there was a way to measure these things, I think you'd find as many genuine evil people who have suffered, as you would genuine gold characters who have not.


Well said.

 

Suffering can lead to deep compassion and commitment to act with kindness and justice but it can also leave a person so deeply wounded that they are unable to function well in life and unable to trust or love other people.

 

A life of comfort and privilege can leave people shallow and oblivious to the reality of other people but it can also give them the tools and energy to do great good in the world.

 

There are people who suffer greatly but have strong supportive relationships around them and/or the personal or external resources to cope with the suffering. Then there are people who may have a lesser degree of suffering but no resources (inner or outer) to help them adapt and they come through a relatively minor experience less able to function and contribute to society.

post #22 of 24



Thank you, UnschoolnMa! I am very interested in Buddhism, and I was really getting hung up on the concept of suffering from a Buddhist perspective. You clarified that some for me. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post

 

Quote:
Life is suffering? I can't believe that. Do all my Buddhist friends believe that? If so, they haven't mentioned it before.

Yes. But wait there's more.... LOL  

 

As a practicing Buddhist the concept of suffering plays a key role in my life. The word and concept are so deep and complex. Suffering understood in a Buddhist context is a touch different than what our standard, knee jerk definition of that term might be. The Buddha used the term "dukkha" that often is translated as "suffering". In english it really doesn't quite capture what he meant though. Dukkha is stress, unsatisfactory, dislike, aversion, grief or sorrow, want, uncertainty, craving or longing, despair, things being in a "do not want" state. Life is in a constant state of change. Nothing is permanent and everything is connected. We are connected to constant change and that means that things or states we approve of will inevitably change to a state we do not approve of.

 

To live means that we will experience these things. We will know grief, sadness, longing, despair, anger, and stress. We will, occasionally or often, be knee deep in dukkha, so to speak. help.gif

 

Buddha taught that we can strive to recognize these states, accept them, and release. For many it feels like a strange deal because though it was his big point, Buddha didn't want people to get stuck on the suffering thing. I tend to view it more like an illuminating tool. Suffering is gonna happen, so then what?

post #23 of 24

Also wanted to put in my 2 cents on the suffering and character growth thing. In my personal experience, some times of suffering in my life have been very cleansing, and have changed me for the better, made me a stronger person, though I did not know it at the time. Some instances of suffering, I have not gotten past, and I have remained 'stuck' mentally, emotionally, spiritually, as a result.

  I don't know why this is the case, just my experience.

post #24 of 24

 

Quote:
some times of suffering in my life have been very cleansing, and have changed me for the better, made me a stronger person, though I did not know it at the time

Very true for me as well!

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