In this essay, I introduce four kinds of suffering: Noble/Ignoble and Innocent/Non-Innocent. I also introduce the concept of a metaphysical line of unfoldment from the unmanifest to manifestation. Also, I mention a dotted line when this metaphysical line gets deviated due to the consequences of the superstructures arisen on account of the corruptions of man’s egoic consciousness. Lastly, I detail how suffering is transformed when viewed in light of unmanifest-manifest lines.
Four Kinds of Suffering
- Innocency is when suffering is an inescapable circumstance.
- Non-Innocent Suffering when it is willingly embraced or chosen to accomplish a necessary purpose.
- Noble Suffering is on account of the thwarting of absolute realities. It is the pain that Nature feels through beings when Her designs for them remain incomplete.
- Ignoble Suffering is on account of separative egoic consciousness.
Only those few animals domesticated by humans are corrupted with any sense of ego. Otherwise animals are pure expressions of Nature and only possess Noble Suffering. It is man feeling hurt in his self-image that experiences Ignoble Suffering. It is pain that’s not shared by anything else in the cosmos. Man is utterly alone in his egoic identity and nothing else in the universe cares. The Ignoble Suffering man experiences is of his own making.
However, man also experiences Noble Suffering whenever he is moving along his metaphysically drawn line. The suffering arises because his advances will be thwarted by the society man has himself created. Ideally man would create environments that expand his vital powers and where he can enjoy becoming what he is.
When you observe Nature, all things clearly have an origin and a destiny. The tree and the seed are not two things but ends of a single spectrum of one phenomenon (and one subjectivity). It is analogous to how the child and the old man are the same person however differing greatly in their appearance, capacities and expressions. It is outwardly almost impossible to identify the child from the old man or to predict the old man from the child.
Invisible Line of Unmanifest to Manifest
All living things clearly have some kind of metaphysical finite invisible line regarding their unfoldment beyond mere reactions to physical laws. In some cases, life even seems to defy physical laws such as metabolism in its struggle against entropy.
There is no reason to suspect that man’s metaphysical line would not be inclusive of the treasures of his consciousness, as well as his biological realities. Man is not merely a biological entity, he also inhabits a mental plane which transcends and defies it. He also possesses a spiritual subjectivity which can defy the mental faculties of operational thinking, formal logic, meaning-making, language and so forth. It is possible for man to enter into his spiritual subjectivity with a silent mind, just as its possible for him to enter into his mental subjectivity with a silent spirit (which characterizes nihilism, hedonism and other pathologies).
Man’s deepest yearnings defy any overt purpose. They are instead pursued for their own sake, such as music, art, beauty, poetry, sports, love and so on. These things are not necessary, not even always conducive, towards biological reproduction or intellectual fulfillment. In fact, they are almost entirely defiant of linguistic expression which is the exclusive domain of the mind.
In other words, they transcend the reach of mind altogether which is impotent in controlling them in any way. Even if the mind is impressed with moral injunctions, fear and ostentatious rewards, the human spirit will be uncontrollably enamored by the beauty of music all the same, and will even be moved to participate in it or celebrate (even if it chooses not to or lacks the means).
Transformation of Suffering
For suffering to be transformed, there must be knowledge which grants it a future and determines in origination in the past. Suffering must be rendered temporal. Then there must be knowledge of how it affects the transition of the unmanifest into manifestation. In other words, how this suffering enhances your powers and capabilities, uplifts your community of people, brings more experience and wisdom to you, and so forth. Some suffering is experimental in nature insofar as you merely suspect or intuit that it may be progressive of your inner being. Yet only experience will fill in the exact details of how so. This is an example demonstrating how knowledge need only be general and vision only be vague.
Suffering needs to be divorced from meaninglessness and powerlessness. For these are the two co-factors that bring it into being. If there is an opportunity to do something about the circumstance then immediately hope is there which means the mind is scanning for opportunities of how to manipulate the situation and thus the suffering has become a kind of game. It is important to be able to relativize suffering into an interactive game via an understanding of how this situation has arisen within history in this particular situation. If you can see the origin and dependent factors of a thing then you can understand how to undo it.
Many things which bring suffering - like jobs at work or oppressive governments - can be understood as the culmination of certain collective values, beliefs, economics, cultures and geographies. Hence, one need not feel powerless and suffer but strive, even in some small way, towards a transformatiom of those factors which have led here based upon whatever capacity and vision one has for doing that.
Suffering is transformed with knowledge grounded upon a spiritual discontent which uncompromisingly rejects nihilism. Because nihilism is merely a failure or absence of vision, a kind of blindness or ignorance. All nihilism is rooted in fallacious assumptions about one’s own powers and destiny.
The Two Nihilists
Just because you have not yet seen or understood a thing does not mean that such a thing does not exist. Lack of evidence is not evidence of absence. The nihilist takes lack of meaning to be evidence of meaningleseness. To see meaning one has to already understand the movement from unmanifest to manifestation that is charactetistic of all reality in its dialectic of being and becoming. The nihilist sees in terms of either being or becoming, and either makes an essentialist error or an annihilationist error.
Nihilists are of two types: the essentialist and the annihilationist. The essentialist mistakes the current (perceived) interation, or phase, of becoming as its unchanging being. For instance, the narrative identity of the ego, at this exact point in time, “is who I really am.” Or they are annihilationist and mistake the current (perceived) phase of becoming as an accidental term of Nature without any relation to an underlying order, schema or causative principle. The annihilationist sees that the current forms will change into new forms and fails to perceive any underlying connection between the two. He then asks, “what’s the point when everything is always changing?”
Innocent and Noble, the highest
The highest kind is suffering is that type which comes to a rhinoceros locked in a cell. He is not only humiliated but further put on display. Not only does the audience photograph them but also offer them food and ooh-and-awe at their physical remonstrations. The animal is kept alive but has nothing of its own to live for within its cage.
This is worse than a human prisoner enduring torture because the animal doesn’t even have a psychical, intellectual or spiritual escape to rationalize themselves as a martyr. They also don’t have a short span of suffering such as animals raised for the slaughter. Zoo animals are kept alive as long as possible, given medicine, human care and even emotional support at the most expensive facilities. Human prisoners are tortured almost exclusively in private and even their existence is hidden from everybody and thus their pain is limited to their own psyche and that of their guards.
On the other hand, the suffering of zoo animals, especially intelligent ones, is not only unrecognized but drives an industry that warps spectators (especially children) themselves whom in seeing a false reflection of Nature also see a false reflection of themselves. The spectator of zoo animals who doesn’t internally rush to free these creatures is never going to have the intrepidity to free humans beings from their bondages.
We might characterize the animal in the zoo with Innocent Noble Suffering (INS).
Non-Innocent and Noble, true power
Non-innocent Noble Suffering (NINS) is the when the subject willingly or is causally responsible for the circumstance of suffering yet the intention is to liberate those in INS. This is the category which the highest forms of hunger strike, matyrdom, revolutionary acts and so forth belong to. It is Noble because it doesn’t aim for the mere fulfillment of individual self but for a fuller expression of Nature Herself which is temporally corrupted by powers that be. It is the ideal Gautama Buddha put forth of the bodhisattva who rather than enjoying a private salvation waits at the gate of liberation for all other beings to enter first.
Innocent Ignoble, egoic consciousness
Innocent Ignoble Suffering (IIS) is when the subject did not choose the circumstance and suffers only on behalf of their individual self unrelated to a greater context of totalities. For instance, a teenager has controlling parents who dictate every hour of their life and literally prohibit their movements outside of a small circle of activity. In this example, the IIS are not free to express their own being in any way unless it conforms to the decisions already made for them by parental authorities.
They are innocent because they, in theory, have factually had no opportunity to escape these circumstances given their capacities and experiences. Yet the suffering is Ignoble because it is on behalf of their own fulfillment rather than any wider considerations. It is possible that INS serves certain necessities in the overall scheme of Nature (or State, or other metaphysical authority) but this knowledge doesn’t enter into the understanding of the subject, and even if it did, it may not be compelling enough (depending on the capacity of the subject) to overcome the experience of suffering.
Non-Innocent Ignoble, the ascetic
Non-Innocent Ignoble Suffering (NIIS) is when the subject is responsible for the initiation of the suffering in order to approach their own fulfillment. Those who are Non-Innocent undertake suffering with a willingness to suffer and that transforms the experience. When suffering is embraced it is granted meaning and that opens the experience up to all kinds of new flavors, interpretations and penetrating lights. Strictly speaking, willing embraced non-innocent suffering is no longer suffering but a kind of enjoyment in existential growing pains. NIIS includes various kinds of self-improvement, aescetic disciplines, even entrepreneurialism, competition and labour, in general.
The Four Types Examined
Now that the four categories have been laid out. We can revisit it in an expanded way. Innocent Noble Suffering is the highest kind but it has no power. By virtue of its innocency, it is impotent to affect any change. For if there was a chance to make a change it would immediately introduce complacency and acceptance rendering it Non-Innocent. Therefor only Non-Innocent sufferers are able to do anything. And needless to say, one may be innocent with regards to one experience of suffering and non-innocent with regards to another.
Also, there is a kind of progression of powers. One must begin from Non-Innocent Ignoble Suffering in order to selfishly develop one’s capacities to the point where they can help others. If you are unattractive then you will be less sexually successful limiting the temporal power in the world that an ideal mate and romantic connections can bring you. In this way, being more attractive could, in principle, when wielded rightly in combination with other powers, with the right intention and knowledge of means, and opportunity, enhance your ability and skillfulness in liberating others.
Another example, is eliminating weaknesses in a self-centered fashion using whatever mental incentives it takes to deliver the results. These achievements are oriented according to the character of the subject. Increases of power and skill could be used towards individual pleasure or put into motion aescetically towards a non-individual purpose.
Potential is Meaningless, Only Actualization Matters
When we say purpose the word is highly correlated with potential, which itself means the becoming into manifestation of what is as yet unmanifest. The movement from unmanifest to manifest seems to be facilitated by certain conditions being met, which means the intercession of other manifestations with the invisible path of this unmanifest-manifest line.
The point is that manifestation is not inevitable but contingent upon human will acting in such a way and not in others. To have a vision of the trajectory of an unmanifest line, such as forseeing with one’s vision the budding of a seed, the flowering of a project or the consequences of certain policies, is one factor that determines Innocency or Non-Innocency. Because this knowledge implies the power of being able to affect, even in some small remote way, the balance of manifestation with one’s opposing force or aid.
Knowledge is the first factor and it precedes means and opportunity. To enhance one’s means in the field of manifestation includes to learn and sharpen skills, expand and enrich a social network, and experiment in a variety of ways to accelerate and deepen one’s evolution. The category of opportunity comes last but re-occurs every moment depending on technological access to cross space and time, as well on perception and means to recognize opportunities, and realized by character in order to have the doggedness to seize those opportunities.
Enjoyment, the Harmony in Chaos and Expansion of Vitality
Generally, there may be two categories of experience according to the above classification. Suffering is chaos in its moments of breakdown, whereas enjoyment is chaos, paradoxically, in moments of harmony. Enjoyment is in the development of powers. Suffering is their exercise when futile and what befalls when intentions are unfulfilled and failed.
We might say a few words on what separates suffering and enjoyment beyond subjective opinion. Enjoyment is the expression of powers as intended in circumstances one is prepared for. To the extent one is prepared for the known unknown then one may enjoy relatively unintended, novel and unpredicted situations. To the extent one has exceptional skill at something there is often less need to prepare or give foresight to its planning. For example, after a certain amount of experience, there is no need to think or plan anything for interactions with women. Situations carry themselves without any hesitation or worry.
Enjoyment could be said to refer to the transition of the unmanifest to the manifest along its invisible line up unto its terminus. However, suffering is not just the interference or deviance of this line. It is also perceived interference. For example, as a subject, I may suffer from having an unconscious expectation of myself which doesn’t actually match my metaphysical reality.
For example, an elephant in the zoo may, theoretically, come to believe itself to belong there, suppose even momentarily, as a kind of defensive measure. In those moments, it will enjoy the deviance of its metaphysical line granted by Nature. Then the elephant, as an invisible line of Nature, is thwarted. In its place stands a dotted line, that created by the society of man, himself a biproduct of Nature, but not man from his heights but man in his Ignoble parts.
True Suffering, the Feeling of Meaninglessness and Powerlessness
We may now say that knowledge provides a vision which negates suffering and transforms it into a kind of uncomfortable and painful but harmonizing enjoyment. In fact, embraced discomfort and pain take on new shades and hues. We should ideally replace them with different words altogether. True suffering is that which is forced upon us (Innocent) and to which we have no power to resist.
Furthermore, true suffering is that to which we are unable to even psychologically escape from. It is that with which there is no intellectual material with which we can even draw matyrdom, spiritual growth or political propaganda from. True suffering is meaningless and has no ending within time. It may be finite but we cannot even estimate how long it will last. True suffering is when don’t know the reason for it. For so long as we can see a reason we can psychically transform it.
So long as you can see a reason or ending to the suffering, you can rest assured that its available for transformation. You may regard it as a necessary growth or a strengthening trial. And therefor it is not really suffering but something which propels you forward along your invisible line. It is a kind of unpleasant enjoyment - physically/emotionally unbearable but spiritually significant.
Lowest Form of Suffering, Hedonism and Nihilism
Lastly, there are very low forms of Ignoble suffering which are not aimed at the development of individual powers but actually aimed at their regression or stultification. Amongst these are hedonistic and nihilistic degeneration. The reason for this is an error in perception, a kind of failure of cognition to grasp wider contexts and totalities. It is a kind of spiritual ineptitude.
In the case of hedonism, the movement from unmanifest to manifest is halted at a certain point and replayed endlessly again and again. The midlife crisis man replays his memories as a high school sports star and cannot measure up to those glories again except by way of ruminating reminiscence. He resignates himself, as if his invisible line has already terminated (despite the fact that Nature is keeping him alive), to repeating certain pleasurable activies because in self-perception his life’s purpose has already been fulfilled. Hence hedonism is a kind of ridiculously erroneous and immature attempt at afterlife living while still alive.
In the case of nihilism, the subject perceives that he had no invisible line to begin with and hence moves with no cohesion with regards to perception, knowledge, means, skill and opportunity. Thus he always perceives himself as Innocent, as a recurring victim of the cosmos itself. His very birth is a self-perceived crime against him. Hence the nihilist’s highest intellectual occupations are absurdity, suicide and solipsism.