PAIN AND SUFFERING IN LIFE: –
There is a difference between physical pains, which is a physiological process, and suffering, which is our mental and emotional response to the pain. So the question arises – can finding, an underlying purpose and meaning behind our pain modify our attitude about it? And can a change in attitude lessen the degree to which we suffer when we are physically injured?
To view pain not as universal enemy as seen in the west but as a remarkable, elegant, and sophisticated biological system that warns us of damage to our body and thus protects us.
There is no doubt that our attitude and mental outlook can strongly affect the degree to which we suffer when we are in physical pain. Let’s say, for instance, that two individuals, a construction worker and a concert pianist suffer the same finger injury, while the amount of physical pain might be the same for both individuals, the construction worker might suffer very little and in fact rejoice if the injury resulted in a month of paid vacation which he or she was in need of, whereas the same injury could result in intense suffering to the pianist who viewed playing as his or her primary source of joy in life.
The idea that our mental attitude influences our ability to perceive and endure pain is not limited to theoretical situations such as above; it has been demonstrated by many scientific studies and experiments. Researchers looking in to this issue began by tracing the pathways of how pain is perceived and experienced. Pain begins with a sensory signal – an alarm that goes off when nerve endings are stimulated by something that is sensed as dangerous. Millions of signals are sent through the spinal cord on the base of the brain. These signals are then sorted out and a message is sent to higher areas of the brain telling of pain. The brain then sorts through the prescreened message and decides on the response. It is at this stage that the mind can assign value and meaning to the pain and intensify or modify our perception of pain.
We convert pain in to suffering in the mind.
To loosen the suffering of pain, we need to make a crucial distinction between the pain of pain and the pain we create by our thoughts about the pain. Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness, and helplessness are all mental and emotional responses that can intensify pain. So, in developing an approach to dealing with pain, we can of course work at the lower levels of pain perception, using the tools of modern medicine such as medications and other procedures, but we can also work at the higher levels by modifying our outlook and attitude.
Other experiments with human beings, involving hypnosis and placebos, have also demonstrated that in many cases the higher brain functions can overrule the pain signals from the lower stages on the pain pathway. They not only warn us and protects us, but it unifies us. Without pain sensation in our hands or feet, those parts no longer seem to belong to our body. It is our suffering that is the most basic element that we share with others, the factor that unifies us with all living creatures.
Suffering according to Buddhism: –
According to Buddhism all suffering is due to desires and that liberation involves their suppression, by following the “Noble eight fold path”
- Right Action
- Right Belief
- Right Aspiration
- Right Speech
- Right Livelihood
- Right Endeavor
- Right Thought
- Right Meditation