I thought it was important to take a closer look at the notion of suffering, particularly from the point of view of Buddhist thought, as many of the tenets and practices of Buddhism have progressively entered the Western popular imagination. 

I found myself reflecting on what must be a misconception and oversimplification of Buddhist thought in the idea that “Life is Suffering.” Upon further investigation, this is a quote erroneously attributed to the Buddha.  

As a result of wanting to explore this further, I was inspired to reach out to an old friend. Dr. Sean Smith is now an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and I knew that he would have strong opinions on the matter. I also believed that our conversation would lead to an interesting exploration of the notion of suffering in general.

Sean did not disappoint. In our conversation, we delve into multiple facets of the art of suffering. We talk about the clinical issue I often face: the aversion to pain and the fierce resistance to the idea that suffering, sadness, and disappointment are normal parts of life. Tune in to hear all about this and more.

Show Highlights:

  • Why the ability to tolerate disappointment is the hallmark of healthy development.
  • How oversimplified Buddhist ideas have become.
  • The radical orientation towards transcendence and rejection of the world in Buddhism.
  • How death is understood through a cyclical existence in Buddhism.
  • Where Buddhist beliefs about a cyclical world came from.
  • How the rigidity of committing to our beliefs can lead to anxiety and isolation.
  • The difference between the meaning of your life and the truth of your life.
  • The 3 levels of suffering in Buddhism.
  • The inevitability and irreducibility of suffering.
  • How to give dignity to the countless failures going on every day.
  • How being in touch with and aware of your body helps during therapy sessions.
  • Why real progress doesn’t result from hacks but hard work.
  • Why things that seem to have gone wrong have actually all gone right.

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Mitchell Smolkin is a sought-after clinician, speaker, and author. For media and interview requests please contact his publicist Randy Phipps at randy@rpcommunications.net. For all other inquiries, please send mail to info@mitchellsmolkin.com.