Simulated Suffering

Sorry for the long absence! I've been exploring the concept of "simulated suffering", whereby you intentionally choose an action which causes you some suffering, in the hopes of learning/growing from the experience. We do this all the time of course, but there are degrees. And it's the degrees - and the intention - which matters.

Consider running, or jogging. I'd put that squarely into a "simulated suffering" category. You are willingly making yourself uncomfortable, in order to advance physically and mentally. That's the concept!

So, I see many people justify tattoos from this perspective - the pain of getting a tattoo makes you remember it, makes you learn the lesson you're trying to teach yourself. I have no evidence one way or the other whether this works. It might!

But I would like to describe two basic techniques (in addition to the technique already mentioned - exercise): Meditation and fasting.

1. Meditation. You might not think of this as suffering, but to your normal mind, it very much is. Meditation is suffering because the time spent meditating could be time spent by the mind obsessing about whatever is to be obsessed with that day. You are forcing yourself to not think, not talk, not move. These could all be considered degradations done to you by another, but because you are choosing (choice is key here), this becomes a simulated suffering. Again, the idea is by taking time each day to "suffer" - here, meditate - you come to appreciate the normal world far more. Like with...

2. Fasting. Ever gone 24 hours without eating? If you're healthy enough, I'd recommend you try it, at least once, to see what it's about. It's painful, and can be filled with real suffering. But, once done, that mountain climbed, you'll come to appreciate everything in a way you did not even realize before. You'll come to cherish that small snack you have before bed, or the breakfast that is made for you, or the nice lunch near the park...

And that's the goal: We are living a miracle, the greatest gift that could ever be given. We are alive. Yet! The vast majority of us utterly take this for granted, and instead focus on whatever pathetic delusions we've created for ourselves to whine and moan about. It's obscene - but I do it too! We all do.

So, the work is: Take yourself out of your normal perspective, intentionally put yourself in a different perspective, and see what you learn. Do this often enough and it becomes habit. Once it becomes habit, it is you. 

I challenge you to think of ways in which you might implement this thought in your own life. What "simulated sacrifice" can you come up with?

The best example of this of course is the "You don't know what you have till it's gone" School of Living, wherein when you are sick, you can think of nothing else but how wonderful it is to be healthy. But when healthy, you rarely give it a moment's thought, right?

We must realize this miracle as an everyday experience. This is one way to get there: Make yourself suffer - within bounds, constructively, for a purpose; but suffering all the same. Because as far as I can tell that's the only way any of us learn.

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