Saturday, 6 December 2014

suffering . . .

One of the themes of the Catholic Camino is suffering. Some devout pilgrims do the last stretch on their knees; as if the blisters weren't enough. Others lash themselves.

I ask Joe about it. He was reared in the faith, his mother spending her last years in agony from cancer and finding great solace from somehow burning off original sin with the pain. I ask him to explain, comment on here. You too. I don't get it. If Dominic is reading, I would really appreciate the view of an ordained priest, albeit radical. As far as symbols go, the nativity touched me. My daughter Emily as Mary in her school version was beautiful to behold. The crucifixion not so. Buddha sitting serenely smiling is more my thing.

Joe's take on it now is critical. He says the notion of original sin and seeking suffering to expiate it is imposed by power playing priests; not part of Jesus' message at all.
I haven't studied the Bible or had the teaching, so don't know. It started with love and arrived at the Spanish Inquisition.

When I was a trade union representative, I attended several funerals. It was part of the job, between organising strikes (the fun part) and the daily defending members, negotiating with managers. A bus conductor, an Irish catholic, lovely man, a friend, was struck by lightning whilst running on Hampstead Heath. His young children were at the funeral. The priest intoned the text: "He was an evil man . . . " Just what you want to hear when your Dad is dead; where's the compassion?

There is suffering on the camino, it's part of the challenge. Dealing with it is the thing.

Buddha's core teaching has a different approach:

There is suffering,
There are the causes of suffering,
There is the cessation of suffering,
There are the ways to stop suffering.

Not that I identify as Buddhist, or wish to set one religion against another; one just speaks to me more than the other.

Pain is inevitable, suffering optional.

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