We all experience both of them, but have you ever wondered what the difference is between pain and suffering?
There is a Buddhist saying that says when you get hurt, say, by an arrow, that results in pain.
However, there is a second arrow which is your reaction to the arrow. The getting angry, the planning of revenge, that is beyond the pain.
That is suffering.
Pain Is An Experience We Have; Suffering Is How We Relate To This Experience
One can feel pain and experience it as a sensation, without judgement or fear. Remaining present with the pain allows the cause of it to open, transform and heal.
In the process of healing one can be very present and aware, and consequently living in a more harmonious state.
Alternatively, in the experience of pain one can get lost in it. You can become the pain, reflecting on it, creating stories about why the experience of pain is there.
In this situation, there is nothing but pain, there is no hope and there is no release from the pain.
This is what creates suffering. Suffering is the story we create of the pain we’re experiencing.
Suffering Ceases When Attachment To Desire Ceases
According to Buddhist thought, suffering ceases when your attachment to desire diminishes.
The end to suffering is when the mind experiences freedom from attachment. It’s letting go of any craving or desiring. This state of enlightenment is called “nirvana” which means freedom from all worries, anxieties and troubles. They say that it isn’t comprehensible for those who have not attained it.
Check out our article where we went into this in more depth: The Number One Cause of Suffering According to Buddhism (and What You Can Do About it).