Lessons from Easter: The place of suffering and flourishing in practice Barry Magid April 15th 2017

The Western Buddhist approach to suffering has largely been made into a therapeutic enterprise. We can come to see suffering as resulting from the neurotic attachments to greed, anger, and ignorance. But this kind of approach to suffering sees it as an unfortunate obstacle or add on to our enjoyment and flourishing in life. Even if we don't outright instrumentalize meditation in that way there's a background assumption that it will make our lives happier, saner and generally better. As Charles Taylor has written, the fundamental challenge brought to us in the story of Easter is that it points to a value that goes beyond and even contradicts human flourishing. This is a valuable lesson for Buddhists. A number of the obstacles encountered in practice are non-fixable. We will only encounter old-age, sickness, and death, more the longer we live. And so the challenge is how do we learn to be unhappy? How do we learn to be in the midst of the suffering of our lives without trying to escape it in ways that are, in fact, self-destructive?

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