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by martingbutler@outlook.com

Let’s talk about pain. Generally speaking, death (fear of) is the most intense pain we will know. People tolerate protracted, intense physical pain rather than die, and so it is fair to assume that death would represent the most intense pain. However, there does come a point at which death is preferred. It’s the same with emotional pain. A person may live their whole life in a state of depression rather than die, but as with physical pain, there is a point at which suicide becomes preferable. So the pain (usually fear) associated with death clearly has equivalents in physical and emotional pain, albeit these states are quite extreme. It has to be this way or people would be committing suicide for the smallest things, and nature’s purposes would not be served; namely the continuation of the species. On the one hand, life drives all its creatures through pain (physical and emotional), and on the other hand, the pains encountered cannot be so intense that they cause a creature to end its life. There is a “bandwidth” of pain where a person’s pain has to be significant enough to prompt action, but not so severe that death is preferable. This is self-tuning, but the end result is that we all live with the pain of unsatisfied desires and the emotional and physical pain associated with diminished survival prospects in preference to death.

What an awful thing to realize that your life is driven by pain (or the pursuit of pleasure, which is the same thing). If you don’t think this is so, I can assure you that it is the case. Think of your favorite pleasure; sex, probably. Well, if you are a sexually active person, just experience abstinence for a protracted period of time; it’s painful. Same with food. Fast for a couple of days and feel the pain of hunger, and, of course, the pleasure of eliminating the pain through eating. A sense of lack dominates all we do. But I have to admit, the more I understand the human predicament, the more it seems absurd.

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