On Suffering (and How to Fit the Entire Human Race into a Single Sugar Cube)

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About Chris Grosso

Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, freelance writer, spiritual aspirant, recovering addict, and musician. He is the author of Indie Spiritualist (Beyond Words/Atria/Simon & Schuster Books 3/4/14), serves as spiritual director of the interfaith center The Sanctuary at Shepardfields and created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with The Indie Spiritualist website. Visit Chris on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Comments

  1. Veronica Grace says:

    I think our culture really feeds the idea that suffering is something that can be avoided. Which of course makes everyone not only try to get to the place of no suffering but also feel like they have failed or like someone else is getting something they want(no suffering).

    Thanks for this article. One more drop in the bucket out there to help people shift their perception of suffering.

  2. While reading your article and Veronica’s comment, I am reminded of the book by Ernst Becker, “Denial of Death”, where he suggests that our ability to contemplate our mortality (suffering) drives us to create symbolic lives is a frenzied effort to avoid suffering and extinction. Becker believes that in order to reconcile the paradox of our existence, man has literally chosen to live in a symbolic world of madness to deny and repress the reality of our frail mortality. He sees that the two dimensions of human existence – the body and the self – can never be fully reconciled, creating an existential anxiety of almost maniacal intensity. “Much of both the good and evil that man has imagined for ourselves and the world are results of our struggle between our instincts and our evolution, and the toll of the pretense of our sanity as we try to deny our true condition.” We build civilizations, create religions, develop financial systems, write laws and legal procedures, and even wage wars to preserve our symbolic worldviews. We will even sacrifice our lives for symbolic illusions, because somehow it makes more sense to die for a “cause” than just a meaningless random extinction. The space between our atoms is filled with illusion, which, for most of us is of far grander proportion than our human presence. To come back to our bodies, our humble humanity, is our salvation as the Buddha said, but our entire civilization is built on the illusion of an escape hatch and there is much to undo.

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