The quality of irony is not strained — like Portia in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, irony or mercy must flow freely or not flow at all

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/forgiveness-is-complicated-powerful-medicine-both-to-the-giver-and-the-given-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/we-dont-need-to-belong-to-any-religion-to-hear-the-universal-invitation-what-would-happen-if-we-decided-to-live-more-expectantly-what-would-happen-if-we-suspended-our-deep-beliefs-about-the-way-th/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/steven-kalas-on-forgiveness/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/acknowledging-ambivalence-is-best-way-to-cope-sage-steven-kalas/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/ambivalence-killed-jesus-the-people-waved-palm-branches-on-sunday-singing-hosanna-hey-come-friday-they-shouted-to-free-barabbas-same-crowd-when-you-stand-too-close-to-beautiful/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/by-putting-aside-our-selfish-interests-to-serve-someone-or-something-larger-than-ourselves-by-devoting-our-lives-to-giving-rather-than-taking/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/1321/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/paradoxical-pericopes-in-our-time/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/the-human-ego-says-i-condescend-therefore-i-am/

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The Quality of Mercy is not Strained  [Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice]   –

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After all, gang, aren’t we all trying our best to be authentic, and that the quality of mercy is not strained — mercy is something that has to be freely given; no one can force someone else to be merciful. (Strained is an old form of constrained, meaning forced)

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From The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.

A line from the play The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare. Strained means constrained, or forced; the speaker is telling Shylock that mercy must be freely given, and is inviting him to show mercy to the title character.

From Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, 1596.

PORTIA: The quality of mercy is not strained,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath:

it is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

Tis mightiest in the mightiest:

it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown;

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself.

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The thoughtful reader sees that Portia says simply this:

Mercy does not come by compulsion;

it comes of itself;

it is spontaneous, and, having seen this,

he has no difficulty in deciding

how the line should be emphasized.

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Deep repercussions. Patti Davis said that the most amazing thing about her dad Ronald Reagan is that he implored that in order for his healing to begin, he needs to be able to forgive his attempted assassin, from what he felt might well be his last breath to forgive and to make peace with his Maker/God. Amazing moment.

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More difficult is Byron Yogi from our Kilauea Disciples of Christ mission who said that Brother Yogi might be able to forgive his dad for discarding him. Of course, it is presumptuous to place Brother Yogi over Ronald Reagan in the quality of mercy, to use Shakespeare’s lingo. 

One cannot quantify the quality of mercy,

so that it is wrong to suggest that Brother Yogi has the most difficult task for forgiving his father for discarding him [it’s harder to forgive familiarity, so to speak][familiarity breeds contempt], vs. President Reagan who, not knowing his attempted assassin John Hinckley, immediately forgave Hinckley, which President Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis says is the most amazing/remarkable thing about her dad, inasmuch President Reagan, perhaps feeling he might not survive this injury, felt it crucial to his recovery to lift the weight of anger off his shoulder by forgiving his attempted assassin.  I cannot place Brother Yogi’s task to forgive over and above President Reagan’s quick forgiveness of Hinckley.

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Mercy is unquantifiable!!

You don’t scorecard it!!

Jesus does not keep a scorecard.

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On the catch phrase the quality of mercy, one sees that Portia in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice says simply this: Mercy does not come by compulsion; it comes of itself; it is spontaneous. One cannot quantify the quality of mercy, period.

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Stephen Leacock typifies “irony,” subtler art than satire, the deeper wisdom. 

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Leacock infantly vulnerable, who accepted his own contradictions [sinned sentient] w/out strenuously trying to reconcile them, per Robertson Davies. 

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Amid Leacock’s humanity/foibles, Leacock radiated beauty. 

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He chose to love over to fear.   

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Need I mutter exemplar ergo impossible irony???  — Patton’s feared foe Rommel orders dossier on Patton — Rommel’s aide spills nonsense [schooling/creds/awards] – Rommel exclaims, “The Man — who is Patton!!??”  Aide meekly recounts, “Well, Patton swears all the time — but he prays to God at night.”   Rommel convulses, “What!!   Such a conflicted man!!  He has nothing to lose!!  I must destroy Patton before he destroys me!!”    Macho males would revulse at a prayin’ man, dismissing a prayin’ man as a pussy/panty-arse.   Not so amid the deepest unction of irony!!   As to “turn the other cheek” & “when you give, it is given to you???” 

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Understandable sentient self-lamentation of Earl Dean Edmoundson born 1945   –

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Biblical pundit Earl Dean Edmoundson of Honomu [former Ishigo Bakery] painted for free his brethren’s church in Puna — didn’t even get a common courtesy thank you from its pastor — and subsequently Dean fumed and steamed for a week over such idiotic disregard of Dean’s “giving”  — well, as Jesus would have it, Dean’s wife June [the strength in the household] comforted Dean & intoned that God works in mysterious ways  — “turn the other cheek” by forgiving the so-called insolent pastor, and Dean’s “giving” is not in vain because Jesus rejoices at Dean’s unction/giving spirit, as do the Puna congregation members [Dean is a head deacon at the Honomu Living Waters Church 40 miles northbound]  — and as June so lovingly evokes, maybe God meant for Dean not to get a thank you from the Puna pastor — to test Dean’s strength of belief in God — that when you give, don’t “be of this world,” i.e,. the blessing is that you give for your love of God, not to get a thank you “of this earth.”   And maybe, even maybe, the Puna pastor tested Dean’s strength by looking “to see”  if Dean would end up sore & hurt incessantly.   Maybe?!   Only God knows.   Children of God — innocent in Jesus’ eyes.    See how irony cuts “right to the chase,” so to speak??

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In Dean Edmoundson’s case, those who reside in the forsaken social margins in Puna might benefit from Dean’s painting of their church!

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Erudite Nani Kyota has said something really revelatory and significant, as Nani’s unconscious has made a connection with the deeper emotional reality evident in us all.    Suffering is not about pain, but about the freedom to choose emerging meaning and hope.

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“Suffering” [noun] is not explained in our deepest spiritual wellsprings.   It simply is acknowledged a priori.   Jesus doesn’t say “pick up my cross and follow me.”   Jesus says “pick up YOUR cross and follow me.”   Suffering is of THIS world.   To deal with suffering is to deal with loss, the death of possibilities/hopes/dreams, the pain in our souls, so to speak, though our myriad cultural languages do not speak of pain per se, but of profound loss —  and the freedom to choose how and to what extent we deal with suffering.
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Transformative suffering refers to a conscious encounter with loss anchored by the hope of emerging meaning and human transformation, especially in our hearts of ANOTHER world/realm.     
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Let the mystery of suffering be the mystery, as extraordinary sage Steven Kalas born 1957 intones.
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Our temptation is to reduce the suffering to something less chaotic and more intellectually manageable.   “There must be a reason,” we protest. And so we construct reasons. Often the reasons make us even more miserable.
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Share the suffering. The opportunity to tell the story of our suffering to a compassionate and skillful listener is helpful beyond measure. Simply in the telling and retelling, we begin to shift perspective, to put a healing distance between us and the pain.
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Turn to the wisdom of symbol and ritual. Medals of honor, funerals, statues and monuments, ritual mourning, legacy, keepsakes — we are symbolic creatures, and our symbols help us to embrace and transcend our suffering.
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Discover redemptive mission. Many people discover meaning in suffering as they work to redeem their suffering in service to the world. And so the alcoholic becomes an AA sponsor. The mother whose child is killed by a drunken driver becomes an activist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The mercenary becomes a naturalist. The victim of child abuse becomes a marriage and family counselor. And so it goes.
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Turn suffering to witness. Sometimes we suffer as a testimony against injustice. We decide to suffer as a way of absorbing the cost of hatred and bearing witness against the insanity of revenge. Or sometimes we willingly suffer for the sake of endurance alone. That is, as a witness to the goodness of life.
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Suffering as a fact of life embraces an intention and willingness to be radically open and present to life as life is — joyous or sorrowful, delightful or painful.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/lifes-journey-includes-pain-of-suffering-69506497.html

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Redemptive suffering means to grace/forgive a plight/fate/person for your self-sufferance which averts another person from suffering, typified by Scripture’s Hath No Greater Love than to Lay Down One’s Life for Another. John 15:13

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Traditional Catholicism’s redemptive suffering about punishment and more punishment wholly is off the mark. This is the Vatican’s spool to rope you in for indulgences/money. Its golden rule is whoever has the gold rules, straight from our Pontiff’s pulpit.

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Dostoevsky dives into the dual nature of suffering — orthodox Catholic punishment, and Dostoevsky’s Sonya as the whore/saint who suffers because of and for others, and thus becomes most Christ-like as Sonya Grows in His Holiness, no matter her social standing/economic status on our mortal plane.

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Magnanimous Viktor Frankl’s exemplar of the old man who finally realizes that his suffering the loss of his lifelong dearest companion wife allows her not to suffer if her husband had died before her — releases this husband from his misery and pain of losing his wife. He suffers because of and for his departed wife, and such suffering finally is accepted with tremendous equanimity by the heretofore tormented husband.     Redemptive suffering.

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To address the question of redemptive suffering,  here is great teacher Viktor Frankl,  Holocaust survivor and the genesis of the pschotherapy/philosophical school of  “The Will to Meaning in Life.”   –
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According to Frankl, “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways:  (1) by creating a work or doing a deed;  (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering,”  and that “everything can be taken from a person but one thing:   The last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”   On the meaning of suffering, Frankl gives the following example:

Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?” “Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office.
— Viktor Frankl
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Frankl emphasized that realizing the value of suffering is meaningful only when the first two creative possibilities are not available [for example, in a concentration camp] and only when such suffering is inevitable – he was not proposing that people suffer unnecessarily.

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We’re here to love and be loved.
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That’s it.
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Every other dimension of life — job, money, golf game, emptying the kitchen trash — is only important as it serves the end of how and why you are related to another soul. 
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I know this because I spent years working for hospice.
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Dying people never revel in how often they vacuumed.
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They revel in who they became in meaningful relationships  [life- & soulmates]!

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/gestalt-therapy-can-open-doors-to-more-authentic-life-118731604.html

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Egotistic overpride/vanity are humanity’s most pervasive pernicious sins, and interlaced with these are envy/jealousy [that pride is an entitlement, not a luck of the draw, pleasant or unpleasant] and anger [when I don’t receive/realize such entitlement].    The cures are submission/humbleness [vs. overpride/vanity], acceptance of one’s fate [compassion/empathy vs. envy/jealousy], & obedience [patience vs. anger].   Lust/greed [arrogance] also are interlaced with overpride/vanity.
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Eastern religion is about release from suffering,  Christianity is about release from sin, & Islam is about release from self-centeredness [obedience to Allah].    Eastern thought:  End suffering, find relief or peace.   Christian thought:  End sin,  find salvation.   Islam thought:   End selfish pride, find acceptance of and obedience to Allah.   Eastern process:  Eventual metamorphosis away from earthly misery via reincarnation/cyclical existences.    Western [Christian/Islam] process:    One-time shot at salvation/obedience  — linearity from mortal birth to mortal death.

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Assembly of God pulpiteer and former Wales native Robert Owen born 1924 loves camaraderie at my expense of a costly steak meal for free for him.   Yet, his humongous mountain of an ego even surpasses his gluttony and most crucially the rock mountain which my great hero super-sandaled Biblical Caleb overcame as testament to Caleb’s Faith in God.
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“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:10 
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Pastor Robert Owen brazenly is so full of himself [pundit Earl Dean Edmoundson’s peer/preacher] .   Pastor Robert Owen  [like Guenni Jack Mormon born March 1952] misses Biblical Caleb’s point — God Almighty, not Robert Owen Almighty.
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Pastor Robert Owen is King Sisyphus  –
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As a punishment from the gods for his trickery King Sisyphus was made to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. Before he could reach the top, however, the massive stone would always roll back down, forcing him to begin again. The maddening nature of the punishment was reserved for King Sisyphus due to his hubristic belief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus Himself.   Zeus accordingly displayed his own cleverness by consigning Sisyphus to an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustration. Thus it came to pass that pointless and/or interminable activities are sometimes described as Sisyphean.
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Especially those who come from our outer social margins enormously and beautifully exude that there is more than enough love to go around, that empathy/compassion/beneficence/trust/hope/gratitude/humility are God’s felt necessities.   Sharing is as natural as breathing.   Second nature.  
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To the person giving of oneself,  such person has another wondrous opportunity to become even more self-fulfilled,  as the receiver derives benefit/sustenance/love.   I have experienced personally the magnanimity of altruists on the edges of society who give so unconditionally of themselves and of their meager austere possessions.     And the incredulity of abject parsimony on the part of our patricians/pharisees so utterly ”full of themselves”/mammon such as pulpiteer Robert Owen.    Huli’au/upside down [confounds one’s sense of love/compassion]!!    
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Dearest kindred soul Pi’ehu Iaukea 1855-1940 impels upon us all that love/patience/kindness/humbleness/generosity of spirit do not and never should have social boundaries.
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Great religious figures invoke the most important precepts, especially amid our trials & tribulations.   As tremendous observer Steven Kalas born 1957 chastens,  we bear with suffering by finding meaning in it, as we turn suffering into transformative good in the world.   Sublime Grace [for religious folks   —  uplift from God].

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/appropriate-self-respect-can-lift-all-areas-of-life-118320899.html

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My passion also is theological. In my religious heritage, the baptismal vows come to this crescendo: Celebrant: “Will you respect the dignity of every human being?” People: “I will, with God’s help.” It always nails my soul to the floor. Respect, from the Latin respectus, meaning “to see again.” Dignity, from the Latin digne, meaning “the breath of God.” In other words, if you’re breathing, that’s the only credential you need to rightly claim that I treat you respectfully.

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Self-respect fundamentally changes our motives for living our values. Take fidelity in marriage, for example. There are a wide variety of motives we might deploy as we live out the promise of not having sex with folks other than our spouse. We might want to be “good.” We might see fidelity as the necessary sacrifice required to derive the benefits of marriage. Commonly, we understand fidelity as a promise made to our spouse, and therefore a gift to the spouse: “Isn’t this nice of me, honey, not to have sex with other people?”

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But, watch what happens when you take your motives for fidelity and “rewire” them to self-respect. Suddenly, fidelity is not first a promise made to your mate; rather, a promise made to yourself. It’s not first a gift to your mate, but a gift to oneself.

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It makes you into the husband/wife you most respect. Suddenly, living your values becomes strangely mercenary, and, I would argue, eminently more powerful.

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A warning:   there’s a downside, a real tricky balance in the work of self-respect. I have learned to nurture a healthy suspicion when I become too strident, too righteous about that value.

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There’s a line between self-respect and self-important/arrogant pride. It’s a fine line. Easy to cross. Way too easy for me, anyway. And I cross it at my own peril.

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When the human ego conscripts the language, the work and the mantle of self-respect, you start to feel really good and right about discarding people from your life.

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And then you can know that you were right, because you don’t have any friends at all.

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Self-respect and self-importance — not the same at all. But they can feel the same.

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Why can’t I be like you or in sync with you?    Because then there would be no need for a me, just you and you alone.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/lifes-journey-includes-pain-of-suffering-69506497.html

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Authentic introspection doesn’t explain suffering. It courageously acknowledges it. “Life is suffering,” said the Buddha (The Four Noble Truths). “Pick up your cross and follow me,” said Jesus. “If I make my bed in hell, thou art there,” said the Hebrew psalmist. And once acknowledged, introspection encounters  suffering in a way that leads to hope and meaning.

The Romans gave us two words for suffering: patior, which means “to endure, to allow,” and suffero, or “to bear up.” The Greeks gave us pascho, or “to experience.” It intrigues me that none of these three words bespeak of pain, per se. All three words have in common an intention and willingness to be radically open and present to life as life is — joyous or sorrowful, delightful or painful.

The central thing we suffer is not physical or emotional pain, but loss.   In the midst of illness, tragedy, death — in the midst of life! — meaning is threatened, along with our sense of hope, safety and security. Our belief in a well-ordered and benevolent universe is challenged by deadly weather, accidents, evil and DNA molecules run amok. Saints and scoundrels alike experience absurd, chaotic, inexplicable suffering.

We don’t get to choose whether we suffer, or always what we must suffer. But, thankfully, we do have some freedom to choose how we suffer, and to what end.

Ego suffering refers to the pain and problems resulting from the ego’s refusal to acknowledge pain and problems. We cannot encounter suffering creatively, precisely because the ego will not encounter suffering at all. Oh, the ego will bemoan it. Wail and dramatize. But not encounter.

Indeed, most of what we call suffering comes into our lives as a consequence of our refusal to suffer. We suffer estrangement and isolation because we refuse to suffer the joys and the pains of intimacy. We suffer addictions to avoid suffering the pain within our souls. We suffer depression because we cannot suffer our anger or grief. We suffer guilt because we will not suffer the humility of asking for and accepting forgiveness.

We suffer because we refuse to suffer.

Transformative suffering refers to a conscious encounter with pain powered by the hope of emerging meaning and human transformation. It must be emphasized that the difference between ego suffering and transformative suffering is not found in the suffering itself, but in our relationship to the suffering. In how we suffer. In and of itself, pain is neither a moral good nor moral evil. That we are in pain does not necessarily indicate anything about us. At all. What we do with and in our pain: This may point to character.

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10 Responses to The quality of irony is not strained — like Portia in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, irony or mercy must flow freely or not flow at all

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