“If you regard as deserving of annihilation, any suffering and pain generally as evil, as detestable, and as blots on existence, well, you have then, besides your religion of compassion, yet another religion in your heart (and this perhaps the mother of the former) – the religion of smug ease. Ah, how little you know of the happiness of man, you comfortable and good natured ones, for happiness and misfortune are brother and sister, and twins, who grow tall together, or, as with you, remain small together.”
This short quote stirred up a bunch of questions in my mind.
- Is pain deserving of annihilation?
- Is smug ease the mother of compassion in all its forms?
- Is smug ease the mother of a specific type of compassion that wishes to “reduce suffering?”
- Are happiness and misfortune twins?
- Can a compassionate person, who escapes from pain, experience “tall” happiness or are they doomed to a shallow and unimportant existence?
- Is the reduction of suffering a religion?
- If it is a religion, who is it for? Is it for compassionate people, small people or people who wish to make others small?
I’d love your answers. If you want mine, here’s how I’d answer:
1. No. Pain is usually an opportunity to grow.
2. No, smug ease cannot coexist with the desire to ennoble another.
3. Yes. Of all the people I know who openly proclaim their desire to “reduce suffering,” there’s only one who isn’t a stereotype of smug ease.
4. Yes. Triumph without struggle is meaningless.
5. No. If you avoid pain you will never have important things to say.
6. Not sure. It is certainly based on faith, but most religions offer some sort of redemption. “Reduced suffering” seems purely nihilistic.
7. I feel it is most appealing to people who’ve been crushed by life and to people who want pity objects against which to contrast their glorious compassion.