torsdag 8 september 2011

Zoroastrianism on Suffering

I completely agree.
Zoroastrianism is also THE ONLY RELIGION or philosophical system which refuses to add meaning to suffering. Suffering is just bad (druj) and something we should fight. But this fight IN ITSELF does not have any meaning other than that the success of relieving suffering is its own reward. So both Zarathushtra and Nietzsche were right and here stress an important difference between Zoroastrian thinking and the philosophies of the east (where suffering is a learning experience, something it is not) and the religions of the deserts (which all claim that suffering is caused by sin and disobedience against God).

2011/9/8 Special Kain

Dear brothers and sisters

As already discussed, Friedrich Nietzsche was philosophically interested in how different cultures and religions teach their members and followers how to cope with random suffering. Cultures and religions provide for ready-made explanations and interpretations that help people cope with random suffering: God walks in mysterious ways, and all your pain and misery will pay off in the future; those who suffer will be rewarded, and those who enjoy themselves will fall (we envy those who seem to be better off); there will be salvation and forgiveness; success requires hardship (see Max Weber's studies on the Protestant work ethic), etc.

Simply put, as long as we are able to explain and GIVE MEANING to our pain, this will ease the pain. But once our explanations fail, we are exposed to suffering in its full CONTINGENCY. As long as we see our pain as MEANINGFUL, we are able to cope with it. As soon as we realise that it doesn't actually make any sense (or any more sense than something else), we face the TRUTH OF NIHILISM. Suffering itself isn't that which scares us. It is the fact that suffering has NO POSITIVE SUBSTANCE and NO INTRINSIC VALUE.

So how did Zarathushtra address the issue of suffering? His take on suffering was brutally and uncharmingly existentialist: he simply states that there is random suffering and that it has no intrinsic value. In other words, it is pointless to suffer. He doesn't even think of suffering as a prerequisite for excellence and bliss. What he stressed is our ATTITUDE TOWARDS EXISTENCE and the choices we make when faced with suffering. How do we choose to react to this phenomenon? How do we choose to JUDGE it? And what will this choice make with us? Where am I, and who will I become once I've made my choice? Do I choose nihilism or fatalism or something more constructive and encouraging? How do I make us of it?


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