Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Thread: How do we deal with physical suffering (self and others)

  1. #1
    Forums Member BiBuddhistRN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    16

    How do we deal with physical suffering (self and others)

    After reading some basic things on Buddhism and almost done with the Dalai Lama's book on the Heart Sutras, I have a question about suffering. I know freedom from sufffering is a sort of state of mind, and adjusting how you are thinking. If someone is clearly suffering with something terrible like cancer (my partner's parents both died when she was young) or have been a sexual trauma survivor like myself, how can I reconcile those things? How can one adjust their mind for something troubling? I don't think I have to think these things are good things in order to go forth. They're really not. I'm going to be sad if someone has a terrible disease, and although I have come a long way, there's nothing good about what happened to me. I've learned some things, but it's mostly just caused me grief.

    Understand I'm not asking out of anger. I've just read over and over in my current book about the different kinds of suffering and ways to be liberated, and I'm confused as to how to apply it to these circumstances. I'm not doing a "why do these terrible things happen" because I know that one. I just don't know how to apply principles, or even understand them properly, to these awful unsettling feelings.

    Thoughts? I'm open to anything, and correct me on anything if I need to be.

  2. #2
    Forums Member stuka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    "Oh, Gawd, uh 'nuther Sutta Thumper..."
    Posts
    1,717
    Hi BBRN, and welcome to BWB :-)


    There is a story of a monk who was dying of cancer, that illustrates rather well what the Buddhadhamma is designed to address. When asked by another monk if he was suffering, he replied, "There is pain."

    The word "suffering" is a bit broad, and it is more exact to delineate that there is painful and pleasurable and neutral experience. We tend to react to each in certain ways, and when we do in unskillful ways, we tend to cause misery and suffering for ourselves and others.
    agonizing over the injury, "shoots himself with a second arrow". It is that "second arrow" and the tendency to "shoot ourselves" with it that the Buddha's teachings are designed to avoid.

    Painful things happen, and will continue to happen, for everyone. The Buddha simply came up with and offered for our consideration a set of tools to deal with what comes in better ways, in ways that help us to not be affected as badly as we would be.

    Edit: Oh, and it is simply through mental discipline (through understanding, ethical action, and certain kinds of meditation and contemplation) that one learns to avoid that "second arrow" more and more.
    Last edited by stuka; 08 Jul 11 at 15:25.

  3. #3
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
    Location
    breathing in... breathing out...
    Posts
    1,109
    Hi Bib,
    I guess others will have their own take on it but for me it has been a long path. The only release I have learned, is that release I have found within meditation. It slowly seeps out into everyday life but it's no quick fix. With it comes insight into the way our minds work and we can recognize and stop habitual thought patterns early on before they drag us along with them.

    I'm not sure to what extent this would help a person in real physical pain but it's helped me out in a few tight spots.
    Namaste
    Kris

  4. #4
    Hi Em,

    I can't imagine what kind of sexual trauma you suffered yourself - but I can only sympathise and tell you that I was mentally abused and physically punched and beaten by my father in my early teens, and sexually abused by 2 of his friends -in fact I was raped by one of them. I left home for good when I was still a teenager and life wasn't always so easy aferwards - but I survived, lol !

    Buddhist study, contemplation and meditation helped me to pacify the anger I carried around with me - and helped me let go of the past in order to lay those mental demons to rest.

    As for physical suffering - most of us have it at some time or another and it's our attitude towards it which can help us tremendously. Also, there's nothing wrong in feeling sympathy and sadness when others are ill and in pain, but neither should we make ourselves unwell in the process.

    So gently, gently, one step at a time....


    with kind wishes,

    Aloka-Aloka-D

  5. #5
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
    Location
    Under the Bodhi Tree
    Posts
    4,711
    Hi Bib,

    Advices from Aloka, Kris and Stuka are good ones. Now just my 2 cents.

    The books of the Dalai Lama and other best sellers, in my personal experience, didn't work. And seems that, again, they are not working. When I first approached Buddhism was with a very good book that gave me a good overall landscape of what were the teachings of the Buddha about and it resonated deeply in me. Being so enthusiastic I get hooked into such books. Mostly Dalai Lama's and Thich's most popular ones. But they were not working and the questions you are addressing were the same I had. I approached Soto Zen tradition and things started to work and after that I started to go into the teachings of the historical Buddha recorded in what is known as the Pali Canon.

    The difference from a best seller with a romantic perspective in the Dalai Lama's and Thich's books and the Pali Canon Teachings is really huge. Also to practice meditation with a sanga is very helpful. Dalai Lama's, Thich's and other books are just about their personal ideas developed with their very personal life circumstances which most of the time have really nothing to do with what Buddha taught.

    Try to look for a meditation group. If it is under a Buddhist tradition it will be best and try to go into the teachings of the historical Buddha which will give you the precise instructions of what you need to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bib
    I just don't know how to apply principles, or even understand them properly, to these awful unsettling feelings.
    You will never get the "how to apply principles" with Dalai Lama's and others best sellers. It is important to practice meditation and I think you will be started at the knowledge of the "how to" with the link below:

    Handbook for Mankind from Bhikkhu Buddhadasa.

    The author of the book is a good teacher and you can find other good teachings and teachers in the link below:

    What the Buddha Taught

    Most of those teachers and their writings are about the Pali Canon and are to make us clear the instructions that the Buddha left us in his teachings.

    Last edited by Esho; 08 Jul 11 at 16:17.

  6. #6
    Forums Member stuka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    "Oh, Gawd, uh 'nuther Sutta Thumper..."
    Posts
    1,717
    Kaarine makes a very good point about meditation. I might also add that there are many different practices that fall under the description "meditation", but many are not helpful or relevant in the sense that the BUddha taught it.

    A very good book, free on the internet and easily found through a Google search, is "mindfulness in Plain English" by Henepola Gunaratana. Prior to finding this book, I had seen a lot of talk about meditation but nothing that explained what it actually was or was meant to accomplish. Reading MIPE cleared all of that up for me.

  7. #7
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
    Location
    Under the Bodhi Tree
    Posts
    4,711
    I have found very usefull Zazen for "garbage in-garbage out" in the famous Stuka's phrase...

  8. #8
    Forums Member Traveller's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    371
    I'll second Stuka's recomendation of Mindfulness in Plain English and you might want to add Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness also by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, they are excellent books. While no expert on meditation and I'm still trying to develop concentration I am told that mindfully observing unpleasant thoughts and sensations reduces there impact rather than suppressing them which is what we naturally do.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by lonely_traveller View Post
    I'll second Stuka's recomendation of Mindfulness in Plain English .
    Although I haven't read it myself, I've seen it recommended elsewhere by a number of different people who've read it.

  10. #10
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
    Location
    Under the Bodhi Tree
    Posts
    4,711
    Quote Originally Posted by lonely_traveller
    I am told that mindfully observing unpleasant thoughts and sensations reduces there impact rather than suppressing them which is what we naturally do.
    Right!


Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Los Angeles Mexico City London Colombo Kuala Lumpur Sydney
Wed, 2:00 AM Wed, 4:00 AM Wed, 10:00 AM Wed, 3:30 PM Wed, 6:00 PM Wed, 9:00 PM