Buddhist And Western Perspectives On Suffering

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Everyone in life has to experience stress more than once. Some say stress is of no good and has to be eliminated. All being said, it has become an inevitable process of the mind. Stress is, in a way, suffering of the mind. How should we, in the context of theology, cope with stress? According to Pamela Coper-White, “Suffering is the starting point of all pastoral and practical theology”. Suffering is defined as our inhalation and interpretation of pain, either physical or emotional. So it is really obvious that suffering is something vital to the development process of a human being. Stress is a state of emotional tension from very divergent and adverse circumstances. Stress is one of the main causes of suffering, especially in the modern…show more content…
Tyson and Rana Pongruengphant, both authors distinguish the differences between the way Buddhists cope with stress and Westerns cope with it. The Western way is about focusing on avoiding the defense mechanisms and achieving problem solving. “Avoidance, withdrawal, and disengagement are like defense mechanisms that reduce the emotional impact, but are the least effective buffers of stress” (Tyson and Pongruengphant, 354). Defense mechanisms are ways to block out thoughts which have the potential to cause anxiety or trauma. This is definitely not a good way to cope with stress in general because as we keep avoiding them, the suffering will build up to a point of breakdown. In psychology, this is a mental breakdown caused by the buildup. If not coped with adequately, this mental breakdown will eventually lead to physical breakdown. The authors state that seeking social support is a good way Westerns use to deal with stress and suffering. These measures include seeking information, advice, aid, rationalization and comfort. Buddhists, on the other hand, focus more on finding the roots of stress and suffering through meditation. They say that dukkha is suffering or happiness which is stressful but inevitable to human existence. Therefore, we need to meditate to reduce the stress or dukkha. Meditation helps to deconstruct the factors leading up to suffering and helping us understand the cause.…show more content…
Suffering is inevitable and a lot of people approach community service volunteers seeking advice on how to deal with stress. We need to be armed with the essential tools to help not only us but people in our community to overcome stress. When we know how to deal with our own stress, we can then help others. That way we can give people good advice and help them more efficiently on a personal level. As Ouyporn mentioned in her article, in solving our own stress and letting it go, we can have a calmer mind which leaves space for coping with others’ problems with

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