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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 Twenty-Nine: In Praise of Radiant Beings (David W. Jardine)


In Praise of Radiant Beings david w. jardine C h a p T e r T w e n T y - n i n e We ought to be like elephants in the noontime sun in summer, when they are tormented by heat and thirst and catch sight of a cool lake. They throw themselves into the water with the greatest pleasure and without a moment’s hesitation. In just the same way, for the sake of ourselves and others, we should give ourselves joyfully to the practice. kunzang Pelden (b. 1862, T ), froM The necTar of ManJushri’s sPeech (2007, P. 255) There is a great line from Lewis Hyde’s beautiful book The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (1983, p. xiii): “the way we treat a thing can sometimes change its nature.” There is a joy to be had in the practice of turning towards suffering and letting it be what it is. It is not had in reveling in the pain of others or wallow- ing in their or one’s own endurances. It is had because that practice, properly practiced, can change the nature of that suffering and our relation to it. My interest in this odd topic, pathei mathos—“learning through suffering”—rose up slowly through not only being with students and teachers in schools when wonderful, tough work was being done, but through also considering my own scholarly ventures over the years. Alan Block (see Chapter 22) is right: study may not precisely relieve...

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