How to Suffer – FAQ’s
What inspired you to write this book?
One evening my wife was lying on the couch in pain. Her back was out. I asked her if she wanted to go to the kitchen for a glass of wine. She replied “No, I just want to lay here and suffer.” I DID A DOUBLE TAKE. I had never heard someone just out and say it. Say the obvious. Say it without an underlying “Poor me”. Jokingly I said “You say it so well, you just know how to suffer. Someone should write a self-help book on “How to Suffer”. We both laughed and riffed on the idea and I figured I’d come to my sense and discard the idea. Never happened. (And after out good laugh, she was no longer suffering…)
Is the book a satire (roast) of self-help books?
Yes and no. The “10 easy steps (or 5, or 7, or…)” of the self-help world is a joke. Not a funny one either. If it was easy to get rich, or find your soulmate, or or or, everyone would be doing it. Ask anyone who made a pile of money if it was easy and they just laugh. That being said, those steps can and often do really help person achieve what their heart’s desire. But really the only thing that is easy to do is suffer. We all do it and we all don’t want to. Go figure.
What is a Sufferometer?
In the chapter on “The Pseudo-Science of Suffering” I use the language and analysis of science to take on the subject of suffering. Concepts like “the threshold of suffering (TOS)” looks at the transition point when increasing pain suddenly becomes suffering. At the end of the chapter I point out that any science – pseudo or otherwise – needs a metric, and that metric is the Sufferometer. Its a device that you can make to log your suffering states. And if prominently posted in your domicile, warn others when to stay clear.
Why do you call suffering “The Gorilla in the Room”?
People rarely use the S-word, Suffering. They talk all about the caused that triggering suffering, e.g. getting fired, losing your lover, having your car stolen, but never actually state where they are at – suffering. Because its never acknowledge directly people tend to not deal with it directly. They turn to external tricks – drugs, alcohol, extreme sports, pornography, instead of dealing with the problem which is essentially internal. And yet it looms over so much of what we all do. Big, hairy and scary it fills up our internal room while we pretend it ain’t there.
Is there anything beyond the 10 easy steps?
Yes. After we’ve all had some fun at suffering’s expense the tone turns a bit more serious which brings up “The 6 Slippery Steps to end suffering”. Of course there are steps, techniques, awareness’s to alleviate or at least change one’s suffering. But they are slippery. An example is non-attachment. The Buddhist make a big deal about attachment causing suffering, but the slipperiness is; one can go to such non-attachment that they don’t care about anything anyone anyway anyhow. They’ve slipped into an uncaring, unfeeling, disconnect, heartless state of assholed-ness.
What is the most profound concept in the book?
Well I didn’t come up with it. Some old Rishi did. It’s from the Vedas, the ancient teachings from India and it is Klesha Number One: “All suffering is caused by the misapprehension of the nature of reality.” There’s actually 4 more Kleshas on the causes of Suffering, but its said that those 4 are all contained in numero uno. And they are. I can’t explain it here – read the book.
Is there an end to Suffering?
Buddha said there is, and he proved it. But its a short list of those who have forever ended it. However what you are currently suffering over can come to an end. And that is something you can do. Is it easy? Maybe yes maybe no, but even if it isn’t easy, isn’t it worth doing?
Are these really frequently asked questions?
Ah, you caught me. I’m writing these on an airplane 1 month before release date of the book and pretty much no one has asked any questions. At least not yet. If there are any FAQs that follow they will actually be that.