The art of suffering

A few careful and thoughtful readers have pointed out that my previous posts on happiness and consciousness were undialectical. There is no prospect of achieving pure happiness in this world since living involves us in a contradictory process that includes both happiness and suffering, peace and anger, hope and fear.

They are, of course, quite right. As Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, there in no realm on this earth where you can have happiness without suffering. Even to mention the one is to bring the other into being. But this need be no counsel of misery or despair. It’s just how things are. The art of happiness is not the achievement of a state or of a world where there is no suffering, but to learn how to take good care of suffering – our own, and that of other people. To do this well and wisely is to bring happiness into this world. Happiness, like everything else, is impermanent. So we nurture it and help it come into being and to grow, and we are aware and take good care of all the suffering within us and around us –this should be work and pleasure enough for a lifetime–Stuart


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