Sunday, March 20, 2011

Purgatory and Suffering

Both Buddhism and Christianity have Purgatory. A place where people go to be tortured in order to work out the bad karma or sins they have accumulated. The meaning of Purgatory is very important for dealing with suffering. You are in Purgatory if you embrace your suffering, if you accept whatever suffering you have in this moment as real, unavoidable, and possibly meaningful. You are in Hell if you deny your suffering and try to flee from it, mentally or physically. The torture of striving to flee when you can't makes things a lot worse. When we suffer we want a quick escape. This is no problem if there is a quick escape. Hand on a hot stove - take it off! But when there is no obvious escape we continue to mentally thrash around with no result. In contrast, if you accept where you are the pain from thrashing around disappears, reducing suffering and allowing thought, which may actually result in finding a way to further lower your suffering. Often with humans, our suffering has no physical basis and is based purely on not accepting where we are. In this case, accepting things may entirely remove your suffering. If you are suffering, ask yourself - Am I in Purgatory or am I in Hell?

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