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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 Fourteen: A Black Blessing (Alexandra Fidyk)


A Black Blessing alexandra fidyk The dread and resistance which every natural human being experiences when it comes to delving too deeply into himself is, at bottom, the fear of the journey to Hades. ~ c. g. jung, Psychology and alcheMy Right at the beginning you meet the dragon, the chthonic spirit, the devil or, as the alche- mists called it, the blackness, the nigredo, and this encounter produces suffering. ~ c. g. jung, c. g Jung sPeaking: inTerviews and encounTers A pedagogy of suffering begins with black. Descent into the underworld has been called many names: Black, no-thing- ness, the void, the abyss, land of the Mud Mothers, and, simply, hell. It has been accounted for in Goethe’s Faust, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and T. S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.” It has been described in the Book of Job; Melville’s Moby Dick; the Japanese Izanami; the Greek Kore-Persephone myth; the fairy-tale maidens who go to Baba Yaga; and Perera’s Sumerian story of Inanna and Ereshkigal, the Dark Goddess. The theme knows no boundaries. It is known throughout history and across cultures because it refers to an “innate, necessary psychic movement which must take place sooner or later when the conscious ego has exhausted the resources and energies of a given life attitude” (Edinger, 1975, p. 21). It plunges one’s whole being into great doubt: Emotions are exhausted; intellect is taken to extremity. While the experience is feared, cultural practices, institutions, and belief systems C h a p T e r f o u...

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