The Nature of Suffering

Suffering occurs when we expect, or desire, our circumstances to be different than they are. Do you agree or disagree?

Note, I think there is a distinction to be made between pain and suffering. One might not have any expectations about the state of their appendix, but if it were to rupture one would still find themselves in pain. The suffering would occur because you don’t expect to be in pain.

To illustrate the difference, imagine you have a headache. Now imagine you have a headache that lasts for 10 or 20 years, or maybe even longer.  At some point, you would likely become accustomed to the headache. At that point, the headache would be expected, and while it might still hurt, you would no longer be suffering, or at the very least,  you would be suffering to a lesser degree.


Avicenna’s Floating Man

The philosopher Avicenna once proposed a thought experiment known as the “Floating Man” or “Flying Man”. The experiment was as follows:

Imagine you come in to existence without any sensory inputs. You are essentially floating in a void, without feeling, hearing, taste, smell, etc. In short, you would have no sensations.

Would you be aware of anything, and if so what?

Time Travel and Predestination

Imagine you were born in a field, and lived your entire life outdoors in this same field. Now imagine that on your 20th birthday, you discover a fantastic space ship that can travel well beyond the speed of light. If you get in this ship, and travel away from Earth at several times the speed of light, you will eventually find yourself at a point where you could look back and see the light that was reflected off the Earth at the time of your birth.

Now imagine that this ship also comes equipped with a super powerful telescope, one so powerful that you can point it back at earth, and zoom in to that field where you were born. With this telescope you observe yourself living out your life.

If this scenario took place, it would mean that for the first 20 years of your life,  some future version of yourself was watching, well aware of what you were going to do before you did it.  Would that mean everything you did was unavoidable?