PAIN & PASSION For Balanced Mental Diet?

Today Christians celebrate the suffering of Christ (that’s what “passion” means; the word was more or less created for this, the suffering of Christ, in 12C France). Why?

Are Christians celebrating suffering in general, or the gift the Son of God supposedly made to them by consenting to suffer too? Or both?

If suffering is celebrated, what for? Because it brings good things, or because it is, per se, a good thing? Or is suffering celebrated because it is central to the human condition? Then, refusing suffering would be to refuse the human condition itself.

Pope Gets Down To Business

Pope Gets Down To Business

A specialist of Buddhism, Philip Short, author of several best seller scholarly books, told me, in connection with explaining the holocaust in Cambodia, that, by spiting pain, Buddhism made people more indifferent to suffering… And thus more tolerant of suffering, and of those, or what, the systems of thoughts and emotions, that inflict it.

Certainly Christians make a show of regretting the suffering of Christ, while revering the fact that, supposedly, he died for us. While Islam is rather gross in comparison, by revering “Jihad” (Holy war or holy war-like effort), Christianism is more subtle: it celebrates those who die for us in horrible suffering, just to obey their “Father”. (Implicit message, same as in Islam, where it is explicit (S 4, v 56): obey Your Lord, the one in the big castle on the hill, as ordained by God.)

In any case, if more than half of the planet is of a mentality inspired by Christianism or Islamism (including yours truly), it’s no doubt because both these religions view suffering as a good thing, sometimes, in their core doctrine. That reflectsthe human condition better. Whereas Buddhism, once upon a time a state religion in much of Asia, and all of India, was wiped out nearly everywhere (even Japan, where Shintoism was the official state religion).

The problem with Buddhism? It’ s too condemning of pain and suffering. The beast has to be tough, to be the beast.

Beasts manage pain, like anything else, because biological evolution manages everything, or, at least, used to manage everything, until our forebear, Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis, decided to burn coal in France, 73,000 years ago.

Pleasure one craves for, and pain, one avoids. That’s first order. In second order, evolution found out that sometimes one had to crave for pain. Thus pain became pleasure, on a more meta level.

A good example is the totally typical scene of the wildebeest (gnou) being eaten, slowly, by the hyena, guts ballooning out. Why would evolution want that the live dinner be drenched by endorphins, and thus not to suffer too much? Why would Evolution be a good and tender god? Why would evolution care? Well, Evolution cares about the predator being around to eat another wildebeest the following week. Thus Evolution cares about the wildebeest not hurting too much the hyena. Predators are fragile, precious: violence is a delicate behavior to live from, the prey’s cooperation is essential.

If they can, predators avoid risk, and will not even risk killing their prey, if they can have their cake, and eat it.

It’s pretty obvious that efforts bring suffering, but that, often, without efforts, or danger, there would be even more suffering. So one would expect that evolution would have prepared mechanisms that make suffering, and danger, to be perceived, somehow as pleasant, when they are obviously deemed to be important.

What morality to bring out of that? Suffering is not absolute. It’s relative, relative to the causality at hand. And the causality around the corner. Suffering for the good, or a greater cause, can be excellent. That’s one indirect message contained in the Passion of Christ.

And a warning beckons: humanity has a propensity to suffering, and not just as an inclination, but as something necessary for a fully balanced mind. It’s not just that “great” leaders want to hurt others. They do this, in part because they want themselves to hurt.

Could it be that suffering brings happiness? If suffering comes from physical exercise, it certainly brings endorphins! In this case, suffering is directly alleviated by neurohormones. But more generally, a tough condition, especially when it bring despair, completely transforms common existence: instead of being perceived as dreadful, the simplest thing become delectable.

Say you are stuck on a mountain, hanging in a harness, with not even a ledge to rest on, in winter at night with insufficient clothing, no food nor drink (one of my specialties). A return to simple flat ground will be perceived as paradise.

So paradise is easy to muster: just go about, suffering big time, and then return to normality (with luck). This is the attraction of extreme sports. But also war.

Humanity has evolved over several million years. Several millions years of happiness, but also pain and suffering. Can one go without the other? So, when John Lennon screamed that “when you talk  about destruction, you can count me out” (in his anti-revolutionary song, “Revolution”), was he unwise and unbalanced?

Proper mental ecology has more important things to worry about, than destruction, pain and suffering, says Evolution.

Certainly, stupidity is something more inhuman, than suffering itself, in which one can easily have all of humanity fall into, during these oligarchic times.

Today a famous novelist also died. Gabriel Garcia Marquez observed that: “Most critics don’t realize that a novel like One Hundred Years of Solitude is a bit of a joke, full of signals to close friends; and so, with some pre-ordained right to pontificate they take on the responsibility of decoding the book and risk making terrible fools of themselves.”

Indeed, although novels are jokes, life is not a joke. Or then it’s a pretty good one. And also a pretty insufferable one. Fiction is a genre much honored. But who needs fiction, when one has reality? Is not fiction reality light?

Accept the pain, it’s the human thing to do.

Patrice Aymé

 

[Note: The preceding used in passing a Lamarckian (new semantics!) evolutionary mechanism. The evolution of pain mitigation appeared as a “smart” overall ecological system selections: herbivores too hard to eat were deselected by ecological system collapse. So Masochism is evolutionary advantageous from the point of view of entire ecology survival.]

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29 Responses to “PAIN & PASSION For Balanced Mental Diet?”

  1. red Says:

    Buddhism is all about transcending suffering(pain, mind disturbance, unsettled feelings etc.). This is a journey of introspection, and seeing reality for what it is. Its about submission, acceptance, acclimate to reality of existence. You suffer when ignorant; no ignorance(wisdom) -> no suffering/pain (figuratively; there is always physical pain, old age and human limitations).

    And human minds are capable of getting into state of continued bliss (permanent, non-interrupted, stable “feeling” of “non suffering” – aka nirvana end goal of buddhist path). This is not some trance, it is of mind fully present, and conscious/aware continuously. It is of logic, reasoning, and in accordance with nature/reality.

    you dont have to suffer, thats the message of buddha.

    From evolution point of view, pain is the fuel how evolution progresses. Does evolution have an end ? according to buddha yes it does (atleast from a mind ecology point of view). And mind is it. (the existence itself).

    if buddhism survived or not, only proves how unevolved sheeple are. The sheeple will re-invent buddhism (if its lost to time) when they are ready.

    I am not referring to buddhist theology or mythology, only its core and raw message.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Red: Thanks for the long thoughtful commentary. “you dont have to suffer, thats the message of buddha.”… And also Buddha’s loss. Without getting into the putative ecstasy of Christ on the cross, of Xtian virgins devoured by lions, any serious mountain runner will tell you pain is good.

      So does Raphael Nadal. Many an artisan and devoted thinker, throughout history, will say the same. Nietzsche, still writing, through terrible migraines and near blindness, although doctors had told him not to. Galileo, roughly the same, and in detention… And so on. Work has an element of pain in it (that’s why I avoid it like cholera).

      Any serious human, to indulge in her/his seriousness, has to transcend pain. As I said, there are more important things. Pain should not become an obsession. Be it only by being obsessed to avoid it. The human condition is intrinsically painful. Avoiding the pain is avoiding what makes us human. Human beings are not exactly submissive. The human condition is about submission… Inflicted.

      What did I fail to understand?
      PA
      PA

      • red Says:

        agree. Pain is not special, like love (or sexual passion) it is intoxicating. Even anger can give you euphoria. Tantra is all about harnessing these for mental fitness (just like physical fitness). But all these are impermanent (thus unreal, temporary, just tools along the WAY). They are dependent. Buddha suggest to go beyond, unattached to anything, only to be fully conscious (awareness).

        The measure is, be able to exercise free will fully. Just like when you shoot an arrow (you need focus, control of all of your faculties, present, aware etc). How do you be in this state permanently, every moment. Unlike pain, love, etc, this state is effortless, suffering-less, content, balanced, limit-less; You can only be truly in this state, when you are one with reality(nature), and you are nature. Human mind is capable of getting there. That is ultimate freedom, real free will. The path is filled with common sense, logic, reason.

        every expression is of nature, with fractal like depth. Nature is of possibilities, be the nature. Lets not limit ourselves.

  2. EugenR Says:

    Dear Patrice, Great article, Thank you.

  3. Paul Handover Says:

    As Eugene said, great article.

    Patrice, you raise so many core points it’s difficult to know where to start! None of which I am entitled to elaborate on from a position of professional knowledge. Not that has stopped me in the past!

    It seems to me that man’s propensity for religion first came, long ago, from fear. Later rulers saw religion as an excellent vehicle for control of the ‘sheeple’.

    Today, we are bombarded by so much fear from the media, by so many conflicting ideas from ‘experts’, that maybe the role of religion is more escapist than anything else.

    What I do believe, however, is that each of us has to find ourself, to learn who we are, embrace the person within, before being able to understand a personal relationship with a deity, with or without a capital ‘G’.

    The journey within is the most challenging of all. A journey that always includes a fair amount of suffering. Yet offers the ultimate truth. That love is the answer to everything. That one cannot love another until one has found that love within. In other words, if you don’t like yourself then you cannot truly like another: person or animal!

    Apologies if this sounded a little pretentious; that was not my intention.

    Have a peaceful weekend. You and all your readers.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hello Paul! Thanks for appreciating too. From someone as culturally balanced, and variously experienced as you are, let alone a finely tuned writer, it’s a tasty dish.
      When on the edge, we are all amateurs. Except the many professionals who do it, not because they love it, but because they get compensated for it.
      Van Gogh was an amateur, and criticized, just as his friend Gauguin, and all the others, for the same reason. Descartes, Fermat were amateurs. The first invented analytic geometry, the second, calculus. Montaigne was also an amateur.

      Actually most historical top intellectuals were amateurs, and no less an authority (!) as Socrates, pointed that out.

      Even Buridan, at first sight as honored as possible, refused to play fully the game, and enter the highest sphere, probably fearing for his mental freedom (although he ended head of the university and advisers to kings, he refused to enter the most prestigious career).

      Copernic was also an amateur (after all, he was an abbot). Even Poincare’ did not follow the most optimal career.

      A reason to be wary of all those full of honor and influence.

      All this to say it’s good you do not get stopped. One of the interest of the Internet is precisely to bring the withering criticism of amateurs to bear onto professional intellectuals. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my critique of the Big Bang (the equations cannot be considered to hold early on) was duplicated most recently in the most serious physics blogs (I comment in)… To boot, top senior mathematicians and physicsts committees of careers, etc. last week came up with the idea that BLOGS ought to be considered for citations and career advancement. They are a more free form of expression.

      “Peer review” is much overrated: geniuses have no peers, by definition. “Peer Review” as an overlord is synonymous with the rule of mediocrity.

      I agree about your love considerations. They are not pretentious, just realistic. Loving another as a better self, is a sure way to happiness and improvement. For all to profit from. As long as it’s well chosen. A big if.

      Peace Be Onto You Too (if that sounds as Mahometan parody, it’s no accident, but one more bit of fun!)
      PA

  4. gmax Says:

    Wow. You exhaust the best! I read the first few lines of the early version, before the Pope pic got added, snd I got instantaneously tired. Too much emotional energy. Too much pain, hostility…I promise to read it later, when I feel stronger.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Sorry about the exhaustion, little one. But great problems are not easily overcome. Hope you recover, and can get down to business, like Francis! Francis 1 Pope that is… Although Francis 1 king had his uses too…

  5. Alexi Helligar Says:

    “Strange dining fellows. Evolution cares about the wildebeest not hurting the hyena too much.”

    Alexi Helligar The hyenas prey on the vulnerable the sick and the defective.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Not necessarily. Occasionally the plain unlucky is even tastier. Actually luck is a major help.

      Several predators species hunt in total darkness, when they can’t really see anything (although they hear and smell). Then they try to hit into the crowd of food on the hoof. Videos are out there showing, in IR, perfectly healthy stallions being grabbed.

      Me and my dad have come in touch proximity with both leopards and lions in Africa, due to reciprocal lack of visibility, and the most recent studies with ultrasensitive IR cameras confirm this…. That had long sounded like jungle legends…

  6. Alexi Helligar Says:

    “If suffering is celebrated, what for? Bcs it brings good things, or is, a good thing? Or bcs suffering is central to the human condition?”

    Alexi Helligar: Apparently, it is to pay back God for our sins. I guess our sins make God suffer so we must suffer in exchange. Cosmic bookkeeping at its finest.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Patrice Ayme Since God created us in HIS image, he is either incoherent, malevolent, sadistic, or impotent, or all the preceding, plus some more psychopathies I will ponder another day that I will create by myself. As I tried to explain, of course, Evolution has an excellent reason for malevolence, namely, existence.

      Obviously, the implicit, emotional message is that, if god can be incoherent, sadistic, impotent, or all the preceding plus a few more meta-psychopathies, but is still god, then so can our boSS be, and still be the boSS…
      PA

  7. EugenR Says:

    As to the suffering, it seems to me suffering is the normal psychological state of human mind. As contrary to it happiness is either very temporary state, or state of mind of people living in ignorance and unawareness to the problem of absence of purpose of human existence. As contrary to them, the people aware of the realities of the being has to be aware at certain level of consciousness to the temporary state of their life and if so all the existence becomes meaningless, as so beautifully said in the book of Ecclesiastes (Bible) 3000 years ago.
    Then there is the problem of all the unjust events people in their personal life have to suffer. This question of “How can wicked person be prosperous, while the righteous suffers?” is asked in Talmud but left unanswered.
    And i even did not touch the human emotions, that make people miserable and i can mention few of them, like hate but also love, envy, greed, shame, etc. Add to it all the social situations that make people miserable, and you will find that human life is not about happiness but rather about fulfillment of certain task, his karma intended him too.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Eugen: Good question: “How can wicked person be prosperous, while the righteous suffers?” is asked in Talmud but left unanswered.

      Answer: Because being righteous is a gift. The ground states of humans is fairness, love and goodness. When those are violated, shame and regrets set in, deep down inside. And the pain of not being loved for what one is.
      PA

      • EugenR Says:

        I agree, greed and hate are the best instruments to create suffering to the greedy and the vengeful, but still there is the problem of “How can wicked person be prosperous, while the righteous suffers?”. Take as an example the financial barons, who run the world economy into catastrophe because of one purpose, self enrichment. And the same people are still with us in the same positions. And i need to add to it, misuse of finances for wrong purposes is not only about moving some kind of paper from one table to other. It is using up the resources, including world environment balance for wrong aim, if the ultimate goal is prosperity and sustainability of the humanity and human culture.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Eugen: this sort of people, and their ancestors (either genetic or cultural) were behind WWI and WWII (mainly through the German and secondarily American plutocracies). They have to be fought with the same gusto as Hitler or Stalin, but they know this, so they hide their works as much as they can: half of the world money is in so called “Dark Pools”.

          It is to us to make them suffer. First by generating a culpability syndrome, to displace the reciprocal congratulation syndrome in place.
          PA

        • red Says:

          human species going through ego ride currently 🙂 (particularly the west; % rise in materialism is a good metric, some aspects of atheism too). For one reason(eg. god, hell) or other(eg: wisdom), human societies (& rich people) few centuries ago would fear doing any bad stuff (they knew its self-detrimental).

          Now, increasingly, the sheeple think they know everything. Add money+power to it, you get a bad mix (plutocrats with no inhibitions). I view this as sickness of society as a whole, not just individual/rich.bad.people. You fix this by fixing society, not one individual. Indoctrination worked wonders before (proven). People should intuitively fear doing any bad (it has to become common sense, which it is).

          humans are getting dumber as they evolve :). I blame it on US, it is the only country single-handedly influenced global society evolution over last 30-40 years probably more. No surprise, If you look at history, its a common occurrence – rich societies often overtake the world culturally/religiously. Interesting how human species evolved starting early colonization (world migrations).

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            Recent study from Princeton shows its the plutocracy that takes decisions in the USA. So maybe we should try to have We The People in command. Each time Obama claims: “God bless America”, he utters a manipulative lie (he does not believe in god). But it’s part of the game. Well, the biosphere is no game.
            PA

          • EugenR Says:

            Red if my i to summarize your saying; The human race since it lost its faith in higher authority, like God with His tools of reward and punishment, it has been intoxicated by ego trip called material consumerism. This social phenomena you call sickens of the society, and the cure is to restore an authority, that will restore the fear in the harts of the people, and then everything will come back to the order.
            Doesn’t it sounds to you as some kind of despotic, communistic-fascistic solution, that historically did not did any good not to the human race and not to the earth environment. If you read my article i published above, i think the solution is rather spreading the decision process out to wide range of people with the use of internet, while giving certain higher authority to a rather large group of highly educated people with proven expertise, so they can influence directly the decision making process, and not only indirectly by publishing article and hoping for the best. (By the way these intellectual experts exist already on the web, where they try to persuade the public to their point of view, but with too few follower, viz. PatriceAim’s blog as an example). My solution remains me the Plato Republic solution, and it obviously failed. But it happened about 2500 years ago, so this time it may work if we learn from the mistakes from the past.In most of the time of human history the political ruling Elites were rather characterized by their ruthlessness than intellectual power. When from time to time a highly intelligent and also ruthless ruler appeared on the world political scene, he many times changed the world paradigms for good or bad. To prevent such catastrophic scenario, it has to be done trough democratic process and not authoritarian despotism.

    • EugenR Says:

      Red if my i to summarize your saying; The human race since it lost its faith in higher authority, like God with His tools of reward and punishment, it has been intoxicated by ego trip called material consumerism. This social phenomena you call sickens of the society, and the cure is to restore an authority, that will restore the fear in the harts of the people, and then everything will come back to the order.
      Doesn’t it sounds to you as some kind of despotic, communistic-fascistic solution, that historically did not did any good not to the human race and not to the earth environment. If you read my article i published above, i think the solution is rather spreading the decision process out to wide range of people with the use of internet, while giving certain higher authority to a rather large group of highly educated people with proven expertise, so they can influence directly the decision making process, and not only indirectly by publishing article and hoping for the best. (By the way these intellectual experts exist already on the web, where they try to persuade the public to their point of view, but with too few follower, viz. PatriceAim’s blog as an example). My solution remains me the Plato Republic solution, and it obviously failed. But it happened about 2500 years ago, so this time it may work if we learn from the mistakes from the past.In most of the time of human history the political ruling Elites were rather characterized by their ruthlessness than intellectual power. When from time to time a highly intelligent and also ruthless ruler appeared on the world political scene, he many times changed the world paradigms for good or bad. To prevent such catastrophic scenario, it has to be done trough democratic process and not authoritarian despotism.

      • red Says:

        we humans often make the mistake that at any point in time we (as a whole or individual) are in total control. This is ego.
        Our evolution (social and all kinds) is driven by inertia (karma of society on whole and individual level). Its like a snowball in motion. Changing few bad (rather large) pecks on it, is not going to do much. Society as a whole shapes individual, and in turn each individual the whole society. A democratic process of badly indoctrinated sheeple is not going to do much. Infact they were shaped (inertia) by larger forces (currently the wind of plutocrats and karma of sick society is blowing).

        My point is, the society as a whole has to grow up, be wiser. An ideal, fully democratic process may get us there in long term. But as you can see democratic processes are constantly hijacked by plutocrats. They make sheeple think everything is alright (even patriotic!, see eg: USA). The problem here is, sheeple are ingorant until they are into late 20s or early 30s (often later) – even then we have to count them to properly educate themselves to be wiser (which is long shot). Any democratic system (voting) by them is prone to their weaknesses (easily sheep’able). Previously (some 1K years ago), religion (indoctrination) worked wonders to transform human societies as a whole, quicker, and more efficiently. Before religions sheeple were lot worse. I am not calling for some god or some superstition based religions, just a more wiser indoctrination(never the less).

        Bad plutocrats are products of a sick society/system. The long term fix is to fix the whole, not putting some band-aid. A mature society will not have its major power (currently US) sponsor/aid plutocrats and financial overlords. You need the strong in society (eg: USA) to stand for morals. A wiser indoctrination will involve morals. What are current global morals ? All the smart people keep talking about green, global warming etc. Nobody talks about personal morals, introspection, wisdom, matureness etc.etc. I wish a day comes when these are talked about as passionately as scientific inventions (space) or global warming, or plutocrats/slavery. Because they more important than any of these. For a wiser snowball.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          To terminate plutocracy is simple. The Roman Republic did it for nearly 4 centuries: just cap wealth, by law.
          Other ways to cap plutocrats exist: burn their spouses (Viking, India), kill their first born (Carthage and many other Middle Earth societies), sacrifice their virgin children on the volcano next door (Inca), eat them (a bit everywhere), shorten them (English and French revolutions), distribute their thousands of horses to the people (Native Americans), enforce equal inheritance distribution (Franks). And so on.

          Doing away with plutocracy is not about the metaphysics of morals, it’s about brute force.
          PA

          • red Says:

            why do we still have plutocrats then. They all obviously failed. You kill them -> they evolve (replaced). They are byproducts of inherently sick system/society. Do you think they plan from the time they were born (to be bad plutocrats) ?

            BTW, plutocrats are not just few top 10 or 100 bad actors in the world. They are in smaller scales (village, town, city, country level) too. They are everywhere. We are not even counting their mutations. Good luck getting the sheeple to burn them all.

            it is not a simple matter of “metaphysics of morals” (or some vodoo).

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Red: Correct on all points. Plutocracy is a disease, a phenomenon. Like cancer, it tends to appear because of a combination of genetics, (mental) viruses and environment. It cannot be avoided absolutely, but it can be mitigated, absolutely. And it has to be, for civilization to survive.

              This is complicated by the fact that we have just one civilization (Putin and Xi are in pre-school on that one). And tech is at a delicate point where massive collapse would not bring a second chance (sort of Einstein’s observation).
              PA

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          I agree, sort of, kinda, parta. However there are coups (of state) and shocks to the system, and they tend to dominate. I am preparing my own essay version of “COLLAPSE”. More answer in a separate comment.
          PA

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Too few followers, I agree! The popular blogs tend to be incredibly self obsessed and stupid.
        PA

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