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On the Pedagogy of Suffering

Hermeneutic and Buddhist Meditations

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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 Thirteen: Fragment Three: Bringing Suffering into the Path (David W. Jardine, Graham McCaffrey & Christopher Gilham)

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Fragment Three: Bringing Suffering inTo The Path david w. jardine, graham mccaffrey & christopher gilham You must accept [suffering] when [it] arise[s] because (1) if you do not do this, in addi- tion to the basic suffering, you have the suffering of worry that is produced by your own thoughts, and then the suffering becomes very difficult for you to bear; (2) if you accept the suffering, you let the basic suffering be and do not stop it, but you never have the suffering of worry that creates discontentment when you focus on the basic suffering; and (3) since you are using a method to bring even basic sufferings into the path, you greatly lessen your suffering, so you can bear it. Therefore, it is very crucial that you generate the patience that accepts suffering. tsong-kha-pa (2004, pp. 172–173) This reminds me of an admixture that has been at the heart of our venture. This in particular: to “let the basic suffering be.” We want to “bring it into the path,” that is, to use the Greco-European for- mulation, we want to see the good in it and not simply recoil away from its ap- pearances. “As you continually experience …suffering …you must know how to bring it into the path. Otherwise …you either generate hostility or you become discouraged” (Tsong-kha-pa, 2004, p. 172). When the First Noble Truth states that all life is suffering, accepting this truth and learning to be patient with its endless reappearance in our...

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