It seems that suffering is the more general term, if only because any harm that someone undergoes is suffered by them. Is there anything that we suffer that is not a harm? I didn't win the sprint, and that didn't harm me exactly, but I did suffer a loss. Is that right? If so, can we suffer because of death even if we are not harmed by it, as e.g. Epicureans I guess claim? I cannot read this article

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    I feel my questions have become very repetitive huh
    – user67675
    Nov 11, 2023 at 18:55
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    I don't recall suffering being brought up here recently. It is a valid question. Buddhism had the First Noble Truth, that life involves suffering inevitably. A milder statement is that things are 'unsatisfactory': we have to work too hard, failure happens through no fault of our own, good people inevitably are taken from us by death, and so on. These sufferings don't involve harms, that I see. But perhaps someone has a definitive answer.
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 11, 2023 at 22:56
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    yes, i already thought about the suffering from impermanence @ScottRowe (maybe not conditioning)
    – user67675
    Nov 11, 2023 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


I may be missing a nuance, but if harm is something externally imposed on someone that creates suffering, then the entire class of mental disorders qualifies as suffering without harm. Being depressed or bipolar involve great suffering, yet there is not harm to point to.

We also suffer because of death insofar as it cause distress to the living or ends an otherwise happy life with more happiness expected in the future.

  • can we not harm ourselves? true about the death of others
    – user67675
    Nov 12, 2023 at 5:48
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    @prof_ghost - yes but that is using your body to harm your body vs internal suffering. It’s a good call out, being a fuzzy area in my answer.
    – Annika
    Nov 12, 2023 at 14:25

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