A Kabbalistic interpretation of pain says, "Everything that we talk about and experience is never our soul experiencing pain; it's the body consciousness, the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone. And an individual who has completely removed the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone feels no pain, nor will they ever." (source)

Buddhism distinguishes between suffering and pain which makes a much clearer argument. It doesn't envision a world free of pain, because fire will always burn and hurt (assuming the nerve ends are working and that to me has little to do with the selfish desire) or from a Sufist perspective one needs to suffer the pain of separation from the Beloved to know of the union. My question, is therefore, how can one generalize the Kabbalah's description to other philosophies. Perhaps I have misunderstood it, if yes, I'd appreciate it if someone could elaborate or is there a fundamental difference in their interpretation of pain?

  • But Kabbalah was never supposed to be consistent with Buddhism. Does the question have value?
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 15:38
  • 1
    Well the key to Buddhism is "no attachment" to thing, to our own "ego", to the world, to others, even to the Buddha. So the Kabbalah says in what you link: no attachment to our ego, our own self but to help others, but Buddhism would warn against over-attachment even in helping others. We can help and do good things for them in a detached manner.
    – Gordon
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 15:58
  • @rus9384 You are right! I am just approaching it from a perennial perspective, so in that context, I think it has value.
    – user29568
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 16:05
  • @Gordon What about attachment to "No attachment"? They seem to both recommend non-attachment to ego, but to say that there exists a pain-free world seems a very broad claim. I agree, that even over-attachment to helping others is an issue, because it will lead to pain when one loses that, due to impermanence of all things.
    – user29568
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 16:06
  • I need to read Michael Berg's article more carefully. As far as a "pain-free" world, it seems to me we cannot expect a really pain free world. Why? Because we are still repairing the world. But this Perennial philosophy, really is only an interesting exercise. It is hard to do justice to these traditions when we try to find too much similarity. So overall I think Rus Is correct. For Buddhists, I think most can only try to lessen the suffering with the 8 fold path, though some reach Nirvana in this world, some could reach it and yet don't so as to help other's etc. Mahayanna.
    – Gordon
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


Your extract giving the Kabbalistic view illustrates the precise match between Kabbalism and Buddhism on this issue. Suffering would be non-existent for a fundamental view. This has to be true for otherwise there could be no end to suffering as explained by the Four Noble Truths.

The Perennial philosophy is consistent on this issue, as one would expect given the knowledge claims of its teachers. It is not just suffering that would not (really) exist but everything including the sufferer. The Self would be Real the rest would be a creation of Mind. In this way suffering ends when we realise who we are, which is the Self. Thus the Oracle's advice 'Know thyself' is the path the the cessation of suffering.

This will be the case for any branch of the Perennial philosophy since it is what is discovered by practitioners and not a speculative theory. But, and it's a big 'but', none of this is much help to us if we do not have such a realisation, and in this sense suffering and pain most certainly exist.

Thus it would be correct to say that suffering does not really exist but unrigorous to say positively that it does or does not exist. For this view we must use a language of contradictory complementarity as there are always two perspectives we can take on such issues. This would be why Lao Tsu comments, 'True words seem paradoxical'. Suffering would exist and exist-not depending on our level of analysis or degree of realisation. If we think suffering and the sufferer exists then Buddhist practice would be one way to find out that neither does.

  • When you refer to suffering, do you mean pain? If I am not mistaken the Buddhist perspective, says that pain should not be avoided, but there is an end to suffering, which is the experience of the pain. The experience of the pain exists only in the Ego and not Self, but even then pain is almost always described as a good thing in the process of ego-destruction or in connecting with the Beloved. So why chase after a pain-free world, when such a world doesn't exist. What is pain and separation without pleasure and love? If you avoid the former, how can one come to know what love is?
    – user29568
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 19:01
  • @user29568 - These are all good questions but they're unanswerable in a comments box. Perhaps you could start a new question. These things are explained in the literature but it takes many words. .
    – user20253
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 11:00
  • I think I asked once for a link to your blog can you share it with me via email. To avoid getting spam, I will share the username, 'lark.richard' and domain is yahoo. I think you can piece the rest together.
    – user29568
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 11:43
  • @user29568 - I'm honored by your request. I've googled but too many options come up and I may need another clue. If you added your location to your profile that might do it.
    – user20253
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 12:08
  • It is lark.richard (AT) yahoo (DOT) com where at and dot represent the email symbols '@' and '.'
    – user29568
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 15:39

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