Life is suffering

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Saint, Apr 14, 2015.

  1. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Depending on what it is you had for breakfast, something else needed to suffer in order for you to enjoy it.
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  3. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    To aid in the clarification of my thoughts:
    It is a topic that is not easily addressed in a "short speak internet forum" post but if we can accept the limitations ( agree to suffer the limitations ) we may anticipate (take pleasure in ) some form of future result ( relief from suffering ) by persevering.

    I haven't actually read much philosophy ( I guess that is pretty obvious by my language use ) as I decided years ago to make use of observation with out the necessarily "corrupting" view of preconceptions generated by others ideas. However a quick wiki reference scim grants an over view of Schopenhauer's view. Maybe when I get more time I shall endeavor to read at more depth on Schopenhauer.

    But yes , what I have managed to glean indicates that we are very much like minded on this issue however there are some significant areas of his work that I do not agree with. For example I do not consider the notion of (sado-) masochistic natures as being in any way "pessimistic" nor do I consider it is as a form of "fatalism" or most importantly, nor do I hold the view that anything is inherently "evil".
    Given the social arena that Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860) lived and wrote in, it is not surprising he would couch his thoughts and words in the pious "Victorian" morality/ethics of the time.


    The Gautama Buddha offered the world through his suffering, endured under the Bodhi Tree and subsequent relief from suffering ( a bowl of milk to break his near death fasting, apparently delivered by a local "maiden") between 6th-4th centuries bce. an "idea", an enlightenment that was intensely profound regarding the mind/body - universe relationship IMO
    Following this incident, Gautama was famously seated under a pipal tree—now known as the Bodhi tree—in Bodh Gaya, India, when he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth.[82] Kaundinya and four other companions, believing that he had abandoned his search and become undisciplined, left. After a reputed 49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, he is said to have attained Enlightenment

    The enlightenment essentially was that "life is suffering", which in my opinion reeks of pessimism, as he proceeds to enlighten others how to eliminate suffering that the cycle of rebirth ( Samsara ) perpetuates. That suffering is in itself a "negative". Thus desiring it's relief ( which is the nature of desire to begin with)

    Opinion - context:
    From the originally privileged wealthy position that Gautama came from, of course he would view the life of the common man in his region as one of intense suffering, possibly not realizing his perspective was colored or exaggerated somewhat by his Noble birth to begin with.

    From a perspective of rejected Nobility the notion is a natural outcome of a man (Gautama) who decided to suffer as the common man does by rejecting his privileged lifestyle.
    However his enlightenment was/is considerably more profound than just observing people struggling to survive.

    Essentially his thoughts can be extrapolated into meaning that to live one must desire* life, <=> desire is attachment, <=> attachment is addiction, <=> addiction is suffering.
    Hence if you are alive you are addicted to living therefore you are suffering due to your own desires.
    *Desire in this context, is a form of grief, grieving for that which you have yet to attain or seek or have lost and wish for again. It is also always future directed ( Arrow of time)
    Eliminating this "addiction" to existing, aspect is primarily what Buddhism strives to achieve.
    Nirvana is essentially the state of "non-desire" or "non-living" preferably whilst alive. A null point or middle point or in my lingo a zero point.

    The main purpose of serious mediation is to find the middle path or null point between all your desires and train the mind and body to shrug off the addictions to those desires. A form of addiction withdrawal and not easy for most in it's common practice and a virtually impossible challenge for those who go to inordinate lengths - re: Soma caves, serious asceticism etc...

    ( For those who are seriously educated in Buddhist philosophy please correct me if my naive thoughts are essentially flawed.)

    Of course Western minds would typically consider the above as pessimistic. I guess in a way I agree, only because the notion of attaining Nirvana ( ultimate pleasure ) is not typically understood properly, not considered as possible whilst living and not in the correct context.

    From a Western perspective:
    re: Masochism:

    A good example of common sufferance that is often taken for granted is the nature of fatigue and tiredness. Most people in a modern society are in a constant state when awake of fatigue and tiredness. ( or at least working towards a state of exhaustion) Sleep/rest deprivation IMO is one of the West's biggest health issues.

    So from the moment we wake up we are spending energy ( suffering ) leading eventually to a need to sleep ( pleasure )

    Now imagine waking up , knowing that you will not be able to sleep again, that you will stay awake until you actually die from sleep deprivation.
    At the moment of realizing your fate what would you do?
    At about 48 hours how would you be feeling?
    At 96 hours would you be feeling much at all?

    The point I am trying to make is that when we wake up and start to fatigue due to simply being awake we anticipate or self predict that we will be able to sleep eventually. So our suffering is tempered by the knowledge that relief from being awake is inevitable even in the form of natural sleep, forced (medicated) sleep, or the ultimate sleep, being death.

    It is the anticipation of relief/pleasure (a form of suffering in itself) that provides the masochistic side of the dualistic state.
    This is innate/ intuitive and not subject to will

    re: Sadism:
    With the above in mind it is the "will" ( Ego ) that wishes to maintain this state of suffering for as long as possible (A life time) and gains pleasure from it's achievements along the way.

    So the ego pushes a masochistic body as hard as it can to derive egoistic pleasure/relief from it's own egoistic cravings and desires.
    This is deliberate and subject to volition.

    Because the ego is the controlling influence in the body mind symbiosis, it could be considered as sadistic in this context, however some may argue the "egg and the chicken" and deem the human to be a dualistic masochistic situation and be justified in doing so.

    I apologize for such a lengthy and confused posting... is a significant and large topic that short speak posting may inadvertently confuse further.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
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  5. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    But that is not sadism, nor masochism. Any suffering in that regard is simply a means to an end.
    If bacon, for example, could be provided without any suffering to the pig, I'd be happier, as I get no enjoyment from the suffering of the pig per se, just from the glorious smell of the crispy (preferably smoked) bacon. If anything, that the pig might suffer tinges my enjoyment of the bacon.
    For it to be sadistic one must derive pleasure specifically from the suffering of the other. For it to be masochistic one must derive pleasure from the suffering of self.
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    If one believes in birth/rebirth then perhaps "life is suffering" is a valid conclusion. But when one has no such belief, then the notion that "life is suffering", and all the associated notions of why and how one should relieve it, are rather moot (while accepting that there may be insight to notions of practical benefit irrespective of belief).
    All of this continues to suggest you don't quite grasp what Masochism is - and how it is simply not applicable to any "suffering" we endure which is a means to an end.
    Masochism is deriving pleasure specifically from the act of suffering itself, not from suffering to reach an end point which we will subsequently enjoy.

    To understand whether an act is done masochistically or not, one should offer the person the end result without the act they are doing. If they would like the end result without the suffering, they are not masochistic. If they would still want the act of suffering, then this is being done solely for the pleasure that the act of suffering gives.

    Let's take the example of doing exercise to keep fit. You want to be able to run a marathon but it hurts to get to that level of fitness.
    Now, if you would want that level of fitness without the pain it takes to get there, you are not masochistic: the suffering you endure is a means to an end.
    If you would still rather endure the pain even though the end result is on offer without it, you would likely be considered masochistic - there is something about the actual suffering of doing the exercise that you like - not just the pleasure that the end-result (being fit) gives you.

    Your take on sadism seems to suffer (pun intended) the same flaw in understanding.
  8. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Can I ask you, why do you enjoy eating?
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  9. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps it is because if he doesn't eat, he will suffer and soon die of malnutrition?

    As would the cook who makes the breakfast, and the waiter who serves it.

    So, Michau Kaku was wrong. The universe is no free lunch. It must be paid for, and the only currency they will accept is suffering, and lots of it. Like it was designed that way. It's a lesser known religious philosophy: 'Malevolent Design'. That its initials are MD is no accident.

    Bio pathogen huggers and anti-vax folks enjoy suffering as much as inflicting it on others they infect. It all makes perfect sense now. "Microbes gotta eat, same as worms" -- paraphrased from Josey Wales character played by Clint Eastwood.

    I can't wait to get started, which only proves your point.

    Let's all grab a late dinner in the restaurant at the end of the universe.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
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  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    There are numerous reasons: the flavours and tastes at one end (i.e. enjoying the food for the immediate sensations that that particular food offers), to the mere relieving of hunger pangs at the other (i.e. the food is a means to an end).
    That said, sometimes I don't enjoy eating... certainly there are some foods I don't enjoy eating at all.

    But what relevance does this have to sadism and/or masochism, other than to perhaps reconfirm your misunderstanding of those terms?

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  11. river

    Life is suffering ; Naturally for all other animals

    But Humanity is a different animal. We think , we have choice of choice .

    We can and have evolved beyond just fundemental Nature .

    We suffer not because we have no choice but because that choice was made to suffer. Governments will do what they will do.
  12. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    You mean you can just eat fruits and vegetables, and that these don't suffer? Nice thinking.

    You will suffer to plant and/or harvest them. You will need a source of fresh water. You will suffer to find a place to bury or otherwise dispose of your waste. Everyone can't live on the same island paradise or farm free from all worries about the outside world. There will be other creatures competing for sustenance and you will need to deal with them or else go hungry. You haven't eliminated suffering; just pushed it a very short distance away. It will be back.

    Governments are what keeps you from dealing with your neighbors as though they were simply animals competing with you. You write this as though you were a survivalist. Be sure and tell everyone you're a survivalist when you run for political office. Trust me, it goes over real swell to tell folks "hurray for me and to heck with you and yours; I'm running on the platform of every man for himself". Don't laugh. I've seen folks try and do just that. Usually, but not always, they lose. Good luck.
  13. river

    No what I mean is that ; we are not confined by Nature
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  14. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    As long as we must breathe, eat and drink, we are very much "confined" by Nature. For us to breathe, we need oxygen. Oxygen, among other things, comes from plants.
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  15. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    that's a great example...
    why do we breath?
    We "need" or "suffer the need" for oxygen.
    What is a "healthy appetite" other than the healthy suffering for the need of food. (including bacon)
    Gosh! Why does a beer taste so good after you have worked all day in the sun?

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  16. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    And why do we model and try to understand the universe? It wasn't originally intended to work that way. What this adaptation was suppose to do was to help us model the behaviors and NEEDS of those we care about. To reduce their suffering, of course. This is the function of the mammalian neocortex. Works great, doesn't it?

    A miracle it worked like that, in actual fact. All we need do is sublimate the modeling and generalize it to other things we wish to understand, and it works like magic. Reptiles may never have developed this capacity. It is vital to our continued dominance and survival now. This much will not change unless we alter it ourselves with things like drug dependency or other addictions which short circuit this function. This is a vulnerability it still has. Mess with it at your own peril. You will know suffering if you do. So will those who through no fault of their own, care about you.

    When QQ says that life is mostly about suffering, he knows whereof he speaks, on enough levels even to satisfy deep thought.

    I haven't quite worked out what all of this has to do with the number 42, but someone will work it out. 6 is an unlucky number 'hex' and 666 are examples. 7 is a lucky number (days of the week, creation myths, etc). Suffering and pleasure seem to be conjoined twins, so why not mix them? I'm just trying to retrace Douglas Adam's thinking. See how well the modeling works?

    Does the Buddah offer any enlightenment, QQ?
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  17. river

    I see. For thinking beings we can lesson any suffering by any being.
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  18. yipeekiaye Registered Member

    We are biologically programmed to live. Our minds then seek meaning from life. We do our best to enjoy our lives and find meaning in what we think and do. The more we enjoy our lives the less we think about meaning and the less we enjoy our lives, the more we think about meaning. Having a value system to live by and living by it usually suffices to give us meaning.
  19. IIIIIIIIII Registered Senior Member

    Whatever works

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  20. river

    Life is suffering for animals.

    Not Humans.
  21. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    The answer is well known and has nothing to do with or need for Oxygen. We breath to reduce the concentration of CO2 in our blood.

    Many years ago at APL, two men died. There was a large steel "Bell Jar" which was mainly used to test thermal designs of satellites in vacuum. IE The satellite was operated in its highest power consumption mod inside the bell jar for quite a few hours with a thousand or so therocouples tapped to many different internal components that could malfunction if they got too hot.

    That steel bell jars was more than 2m in diameter and more than 3m tall - quite heavy. It was raised by a simple hand crank, and common proceed was to only crank it up a little more than a foot from the base for worker(s) to enter. Before it was open from the high vaccuum state, the internal pressure was increased to atmospheric by dry nitrogen line leaking - not too fast as did not want any turbulence forces, especially on the extensive gold foils used as part of the passive thermal control.
    For example the thermal vacuum test might have run all night, say from 4PM one day until 8:30AM the next day when the valve of the N2 line was turn on. In a few hours there would be slight perimeter escape of N2 and the bell jar could be cranked up before lunch time. Workers (one or two usually) did not enter until mid after noon, so the N2 atmosphere got some O2 (by natural diffusion or by an O2 bleed line - I don't know).

    One afternoon two men entered to do some work, but the N2 feed line was still open. The O2 content inside was very low, but they did not notice that - they just lost consciousness. They were exhaling the CO2 just fine. Eventually if still semi-conscious they had little CO2 in their blood and did not notice they were no longer automatically breathing. They were found (dead of course) about 5:45PM, as one was part of a car-pool that always left by 5:10 PM. All the time they were inside, the N2 was entering and they were thin men so had cranked the bell jar up only about a foot - they could squeeze thru that gap, but little O2 from the air did against the N2 exit flow.

    Breathing is not driven by desire for O2 - but by the need to lower your blood's CO2. That is a very strong drive to breath. You could hold your breath for at least 25 minutes before the O2 in your lungs would no longer support life. I forget the number but ~90% or more, of the O2 you inhale is exhaled with the next half of a breathing cycle.
  22. turk Registered Member

    Life is living; Pain is suffering. Life is an all enclusive experience. Suffering is only an experience including pain/sorrow. Personally, I am grateful for the pain of this world because without it, the world wouldn't be what it is now. I believe pain/pleasure relationship is necessary in the formation and progression of intelligence. We learn to avoid poor environmental conditions and seek more favorable ones. Through this mechanism intelligence emerges, and will likely progress to a point in which the biosphere will be able to protect itself from destruction of asteroids.
    We might develop our own simulated universes in which more favourable conditions could be synthesized. Its pain that motivates change. Its the sorrow of losing our loved ones to cancer to inspire the research that will lead to its cure. Your purpose in life is what you make of it. If your life is filled with more pain than happiness, than maybe you can find the strength within you to shift your perspective, because if you are alive and well off enough to be contemplating your existential purpose on the internet, you should be able to find enough pleasurable things in life to be grateful for. In fact, just having the awareness to understand the concept of purpose, ought to be enough.

    For me, my purpose is to experience Life from this particular frame of reference. From this perspective, I desire to have an effect on the causal chain of reality in a way that I can appreciate and value. As long as I can feel satisfied in the effort I give to progressing towards compassion, empathy, and objectivity, then I am satisfied with who I am.
    I seek to balance the conflict between what I desire, and what is best for the world. To predict the effects of my actions will have on the greater systems I associate my identity with. My goal is to minimize pain and maximize pleasure for the greater good of Virtue, because that is what I value that has the strongest roots. Superficial gratifications are fleeting and lead to more suffering. Living a virtuous life of integrity and compassion fills me with a kind of happiness that can't be taken away. I must choose to relinquish it by giving in to selfishness. As long as I recognize my mistakes and learn from them, I can progress. It's the sustained progress that gives me an appreciation for who I am. The world is far from perfect, but I am growing more fond of my place in it as the years progress.
  23. river


    While experience contributes to understanding so does imagination by our intellect.

    We can not experience all scenarios by all peoples'. We can however use our imagination intellect to get a reasonable grasp of the peoples' position. And therefore have empathy. Abstract as it is.

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