Difference between pain and suffering

Difference between pain and suffering

There is an important difference between pain and suffering. The anxiety it contains a lot of suffering, and more than real pain, it is an imaginary pain, it is a suffering made with the mind, fanciful, about the bad that can happen.

If we are able to face the pain when life hits us or difficult things happen to us, learning to sustain it and travel it in order to transcend it, it will not turn us into suffering.

Next we will explain the difference between the two concepts:


  • 1 The Pain
  • 2 The Suffering
  • 3 Reflection and Zen story

The pain

The pain is silent, deep (especially in losses), it is healthy to live without avoiding it, it is part of the process of life, of flowing, growing, maturing and integrating. If we integrate what happens to us that causes pain, we are saying YES to life with what it brings, with acceptance, we can move on and the experience, however hard it may have been, makes me learn.

Pain is a normal signal to the body that there is something that needs to be checked.. If it is punctual it fulfills a protective function, with some symptom that allows us to see what the dysfunction is, such as the signal before a blow, an injury, which causes us to defend the defenses and activate the mechanisms to heal.

If it is continuous and chronic, it warns us that we must take better care of ourselves, better, change something, investigate further.

The suffering

Suffering has a mental, noisy character, with a heavy load of harmful messages. With it we cling, we fight, we want to control, we stick, we say NO to life, to loss, to change, and in that way we run out, we get sick, and we get depressed.

We do not follow life, we are still installed in the struggle, in the non-acceptance of what is there, in the excuse of what has happened to me, to boycott and not be happy. We get stuck, we don't learn, and we don't flow with life and what happens. Suffering is full of harmful mental dialogue against oneself and others, it is full of judgments, resentment, reproaches, effort to want to change what was.

In order not to suffer and distress ourselves for everything, we must let go. Maturity in life requires releasing things, people, experiences. Do not get too attached.

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Reflection and Zen story

As a Zen story says, empty the cup so it can be filled with new things:

"Great Teacher," said the disciple, I have come too far to learn from you. For years I have studied with the best teachers in the world, and everyone has left much wisdom in me. Now I think you are the only one who can please my search and show me what I need.

The wise man told the disciple that he would be happy to teach him what he needed but that before they had a cup of tea.

The Master took some cups and a teapot and began serving tea to the student, continued talking and poured tea and more tea into the cup, until the tea fell on the plate and on the floor.

The student said: Teacher, teacher, I do not understand, there is no more tea, stop pouring tea in my cup. Do not you see that it is already full?

And then the Master told the disciple:

Until you're able to empty your cup, you can't put more tea in it. ”

We cling to the idea of ​​permanence and dependence ... "Without him I can't live" ... "Together forever", "I just can't."

We want to control destiny, life, what we have, and it is an impossible task. We lack the acceptance of change, of the dynamic of life.

"Life is bigger than us" (Joan Garriga, in his book "Living in the Soul").