Friday, December 21, 2018

Suffering and Trials

Trials, in the Christian sense, should mot be called trials. Trial sounds like a hardship that we need to go through as a test, with a reward at the end if we survive or pass the trial. In this sense a trial is negative. But the Desert Fathers and the Saints sought out trials and considered them to be a blessing. A trial, in this sense, corresponds to suffering in Buddhism. In Buddhism, suffering is good if it is not so great that it overwhelms you and not so small that it can be ignored. Buddhist practices are often said to be aimed at eliminating suffering, but this can be misleading. The practices are meant to manage suffering to keep it in the middle range, because it is only in the middle range that suffering can be transcended. This is the middle way. This is also why the Saints constantly sought out a certain level of suffering. Without the suffering we will not practice hard, and without long and hard practice the transcendence of suffering cannot be achieved or maintained.