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On the Pedagogy of Suffering

Hermeneutic and Buddhist Meditations


Edited By David W. Jardine, Christopher Gilham and Graham McCaffrey

This text articulates how and why suffering can be pedagogical in character and how it is often key to authentic and meaningful acts of teaching and learning. This is an ancient idea from the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus (c. 525 BCE) – pathei mathos or «learning through suffering». In our understandable rush to ameliorate suffering at every turn and to consider every instance of it as an error to be avoided at all costs, we explore how the pedagogy that can come from suffering becomes obscured and something vital to a rich and vibrant pedagogy can be lost. This collection threads through education, nursing, psychiatry, ecology, and medicine, through scholarship and intimate breaths, and blends together affinities between hermeneutic conceptions of the cultivation of character and Buddhist meditations on suffering and its locale in our lives. This book will be useful for graduate courses on hermeneutic research in education, educational psychology, counseling, and nursing/medicine.


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Chapter Six: Suffering Loves and Needs Company: Buddhist and Daoist Perspectives on the Counselor as Companion (Avraham Cohen & Heesoon Bai)


C h a p T e r s i x Suffering Loves and Needs Company: Buddhist and Daoist Perspectives on The Counselor as Companion avraham cohen & heesoon bai Great Doubt, Great Awakening, Little Doubt, Little Awakening, No Doubt, No Awakening Zen saying (batchelor, 2001, p. 29) The word “suffer” is a variant of the Latin “suffere; to bear, undergo, endure, carry or put under,” from sub “up, under” + ferre “to carry” (Online Etymology Dictio- nary, 2001). Note the physicalistic root of the word. A sufferer is one who is strug- gling, staggering, limping, maybe even collapsing, under the unbearable weight of a burden he or she is carrying. The importance of this physical image for us lies in its elicitation of a certain response from the witness, the counsellor. An ordinary response from us when we see someone staggering under the weight of a burden is to run to his aid, to lend a supportive hand, and even to take on some of the burden. All these and similar responses are solely focused on one thing and only one thing: a human being before you who is suffering. Not a disorder, a diagnostic category, a “case” of suffering, or some other label, but a person who is feeling pain and anguish in-the-moment. Never lose sight of the person (we lean towards the term ‘person’ in the service of emphasizing the personal nature of the encounter and deconstructing the idea of client or patient as an object upon whom the...

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