From Pain to Suffering

From Ciudad Nueva magazine via Mirada Global:

From pain to suffering doesn’t mean neither progress nor a stage, but a change of nature. Anthropology determines very well what we human beings have that derives from humanity or animality. We certainly share pain with animals, but not suffering.


Pain and suffering are facts. They are there. Since we have to live with them, which is the attitude we should face each one with? Should we avoid them, heal them?

Socrates tells us that we can go through life hardly being aware of the corporeal contingencies. In “Phaedo” he tries to reduce the pleasure and the pain to the law of contrasts. When his time to die came while in prison, this wise man started walking in order to spread the poison he had taken throughout his body. In a way he died with method, without pain or suffering.

Roman stoics also undertook struggling against pain and suffering. But they considered that he who suffers is a “fool”. If somebody loses his wife, his sheep, if his son is far away, what’s the point in crying?, they said. Nothing is bad, except the representation we make of it. Therefore, everything depends on us, on how we see the reality around us. When Epictetus said that “pain is only an opinion”, he wasn’t impressed with the Christian martyrs in Rome (of whom he was contemporary). But I believe he was wrong, because if those witnesses of Christ died happily it wasn’t because of a provocation, but for love. This is a matter of feeling, not of opinion.

Read the rest here.

Also available in Spanish.

Tim Reidy


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
David Pasinski
6 years 1 month ago
Thank you.. a fine little reflection. In fifteen years of hospice chaplaincy, I saw some of the differences between pain and suffering and have reflected with many in pondering these always ... the mystery of suffering remains...Is Bernanos right? grace...


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