Wisdom and Suffering

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Cino, May 9, 2021.

  1. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Suffering is part of the Human Condition. Most religions address it in their teachings and practice.

    One consequence of suffering that is often cited in religious literature is an increase in wisdom

    What is your view on the interplay between wisdom and suffering?
     
  2. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    "Those whom the gods love, they take away from them much. Those whom the gods love most, the take away from them everything."

    I heard it once, and never forgot.
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    A mixed blessing ... not sure I adhere to the idea that one must know suffering to know peace, bad to know good, etc.

    I rather think suffering is an inevitable consequence of finitude and contingency, and it can bring forth wisdom, but it can also sully, warp and ruin – so I am loathe to regard any kind of suffering as a virtue.

    We have a family friend who has far more of her fair share of suffering in her life, and I once said that it seemed to me that nature piles the heaviest burden on the broadest shoulders. Now I think otherwise. If that's nature, or indeed if that's God, it seems unjust to me.

    The perennial question: why do the good suffer, the bad can flourish?

    The caprice of the Gods? Fate? Karma? Chance?

    Finitude and Contingency is the way I see it.
     
  4. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    So difficult to answer, all one can do is just reply from the heart. Suffering, over time, can build to such a degree that one longs to have it all done and be on the other side of it. So it is with me. I literally long to be sacrificed on the alter of love, but my sacrifice must be met by another. I will never be complete until this happens. We both abandon ourselves to death, to the flame of the altar. Every fiber of my being aches for this. Wisdom? What is that?
     
  5. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    The book of Job comes to mind, though on the surface at least, it reads like "the caprice of the gods". Do you understand God's rather defensive speech delivered at the end, paraphrasing "Making a universe is hard, you just have no idea", as an expression of finitude and contingency?
     
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    I often wonder. I think it has something to do with the combination of discerning insight and experience on one hand, and the ability to follow through on such insight on the other.
     
  7. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    I guess I lost the handle on all that, friend. I don't know if I have ever had wisdom or if I ever will have it. I just follow where the heart leads. It's kind of down to that for me.
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Yes, it did to me, too.

    LOL, well I agree with God that ordering a cosmos is hard ... my life offers trials enough, and what nano-percentage of creation Do I represent?

    I wonder if there's a degree of challenge in Job – who the heck d'you think you are? kinda thing.

    I remember our Course Director offering a (light-hearted) view that when Moses goes up the mountain and says to God: "Lo, I shall go to the children of Israel, and say to them: The God of your fathers hath sent me to you. If they should say to me: What is his name? what shall I say to them?" To which God responds with "I am who I am" which could also be read to mean "Who they hell do they think they are, asking who am I?"
     
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  9. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Been thinking on this a bit more. Perhaps it is this, after Job's encounter with God:

    "My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
    Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

    Job had many blessings, but along with the blessings crept in pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy. This is normal in spiritual growth. In order for Job to continue to advance, there had to come a time of stripping, weeding out, pruning the branches. This is where the suffering came in. He tried to submit at first, but then as things became more intense, he encountered that part of him which, until that point, refused to submit.

    Tremendous pressure was brought to bear through circumstances, physical discomfort, and through the words of his friends. Things got a little sideways, Elihu came in to get it back on track. Finally, Job is brought to the end of himself, to a place where God could do what he intended all along: set Job's feet on new ground, better ground. All is restored and even multiplied.

    So what is wisdom? Perhaps realizing our true standing and God's true standing. Submission to suffering, ridicule perhaps, being emptied of everything in order to be filled. Possibly?
     
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  10. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Very nice
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
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  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    I wonder what he saw, though. The text implies it was the forces of nature, creation, following laws that are both creative and destructive, not necessarily ethical, not human... My understanding is Job repented of expecting God to conform to his expectations. The storm is not human, it brings good things and bad, rain and hail, drought and good weather. It follows its laws, but they are not necessarily what we would like at any given moment.

    Maybe wisdom in Job's case was seeing God not as his personal patron whom he can mollify and control by being a loyal supporter, but as this force to be reckoned with, which needs to be understood and respected for the damage it can do.

    My thoughts.
     
  12. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Very good my friend, I like it. No one owns that holy monster we know as God, no one controls it. I follow your thoughts up with an odd quote, from a movie actually. An old friend once showed it to me:

    Merlin: Shall I tell you what's out there?
    Arthur: Yes, please.
    Merlin: The Dragon. A beast of such power that if you were to see it whole and all complete in a single glance, it would burn you to cinders.

    Just a side point here. This also might point back to why the plural "Elohim" was used in the "first creation account", lol. It's the whole divine pomp, the full broadband word of that raging torrent we know as God. Opposition, enemies, darkness, the great deep, no problem. All work to serve God's purpose and that will go forward unhindered. Declaring the end from the beginning (just like with Job).
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
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  13. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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    Interesting read even though it is totally unsupported by the Hebrew text. Are you getting that from some translation?
     
  14. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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    All is restored?

    I wonder if Job’s dead children would agree with that. I wonder if Job’s wife or Job, himself, would agree that all has been restored when peering out at the graves of those children.
     
  15. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    But that's the text. They're just possessions, like Lot's daughters. It's almost comical that anyone would write it like that?
     
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  16. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    The way I see it, the relevance of a text like Job, to me, today, lies in my engaging with it personally. Unlike a hypothetical reader tens of centuries ago, I do not see Job's family as possessions. This may or may not have been the original author's intention, but it is something that is at stake, for me personally, and thus turns a story remote in time and place to something much more immediate.

    As always, my opinion, respectful of the fact that others will hold such a text differently.
     
  17. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    And God has taken my loved ones away from all pain and loss. The pain is just my own?

    Of course (always) with respect to the views of others on the subject
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
  18. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    No, it has been my way of viewing Job since I was in my twenties, as allegory, and therefore with power to give immediate help to anyone on the spiritual path. From early on, I always tried to look beyond the letter of the text and into the spirit of it.

    It's a lovely book, I know in studying these things I can only take what I need. All else will remain hidden from me. IMO
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
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  19. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    It's allegory (for me). However, these are very precious things, living things, fruits of our/Job's union with God. These would be the most painful things to lose. Like a dark night of the soul, a severing from the immediacy of God? I don't know... Any insight would be welcome Rabbi.
     
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  20. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Anybody interested in the various different opinions about Job ( pronounced jobe ),
    might like to read the following article..

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_(biblical_figure)
     

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