Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Suffering

"Rejoice in adversity even more than in prosperity, for suffering brings forgiveness of sin." - Rabbi Akiva, fully Rebbe Akiva ben Yosef NULL

"From the very beginning of a person’s life one learns that the purpose of life is not uninterrupted pleasure. Every infant suffers pains and illnesses. We should not perceive illness and pain as negative. Suffering teaches us humility. We learn that we do not have complete power over ourselves." - Shlomo Wolbe, aka Wilhelm Wolbe

"The chief secret of comfort lies in not suffering trifles to vex us, and in prudently cultivating an undergrowth of small pleasures, since very few great ones are let on long leases." - Arthur Aughey

"Once you are used to something, you feel some suffering if you lack it. Be very careful before making something a habit." - Abraham ben Moses ben Maimon, aka Rabbi Avraham Maimuni, aka Rabbeinu Avraham ben ha-Rambam NULL

"Envy destroys peace of mind and happiness. An envious person’s life is full of suffering and resentment. He is never happy with what he himself has." - Michael Barenbaum

"To be born is to suffer: to grow old is to suffer: to die is to suffer: to lose what is loved is to suffer: to be tied to what is not loved is to suffer: to endure what is distasteful is to suffer. In short, all the results of individuality, or separate self-hood, necessarily involve pain or suffering." - Subhadra Bhikshu, pen name for Friedrich Zimmermann

"With our finite minds we cannot presume to know if there is a Purpose. We sense, however, the presence of something greater than we can comprehend, a force as yet unknown to us - perhaps even to be unknown. So we accept our situation, learn from it, and do the best we can, resting on faith, despair, or cynicism, depending on the individual. Overriding all this must be an obligation - self-imposed or externally impressed - to do the best one can for others, to relieve suffering and to exercise compassion. We are all in this together, for life is a common, not an individual, endeavor." - Harry Blackmun, fully Harold "Harry" Andrew Blackmun

"Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering, in order that they may have existence." - Léon Bloy

"What makes woman lovely? Virtue, Faith, and gentleness in suffering, an endurance through scorn or trial; then has it the stamp celestial, and is admitted to sisterhood with angels." -

"Suffering should lead man to self-inspection... to the admission of errors... and to prayer and forgiveness." - Bűchler Sándor or Alexander Bűchler

"Affliction inspires wakefulness, which in turn removes ignorance, which is the ultimate cause of suffering." - Stephen Butterfield

"Do what you are doing now, suffer what you are suffering now; to do all this with holiness, nothing need be changed but your hearts. Sanctity consists in willing what happens to us by God’s order." -

"Journey all over the universe in a map, without the expense and fatigue of traveling, without suffering the inconveniences of heat, cold, hunger, and thirst." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"True compassion is utterly neutral and is moved by suffering of every sort, not tied to right and wrong, attachment and aversion." - Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

"True wisdom comes from the overcoming of suffering and sin. All true wisdom is therefore touched with sadness." - Whittaker Chambers, born Jay Vivian Chambers, aka Jay David Whittaker Chambers

"When you suffer yourself, it is easier to feel the suffering of others." - Chayim of Volozhin, also Chaim ben Yuitzchok of Volozhin or Chaim Ickovits NULL

"Limit to strength? There is no limit to strength. Limit to courage? There is no limit to courage. Limit to suffering? There is no limit to suffering." - Gabriele D'Annunzio

"Some people gauge their value by what they own. But in reality the entire concept of ownership of possessions is based on an illusion. When you obtain a material object, it does not become part of you. Ownership is merely your right to use specific objects whenever you wish and that no one has a right to take them away from you. How unfortunate is the person who has an ambition to cleave to something impossible to cleave to. Such a person will not obtain what he desires and will experience suffering." - Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler

"View every difficult situation as an opportunity to grow and we will feel pleasure instead of pain from such situations. Failure to do so will cause you needless suffering." - Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler

"Everyone suffers. But many do not take it to heart that the suffering comes as a punishment for transgressions, rather they consider it accidental. The proper attitude is that suffering is an atonement. With this realization a person appreciates that suffering in this world saves him suffering in the next." - Y. Eibeschuetz

"When you are suffering, be especially careful not to become angry. At such times you are likely to have a tendency to become angry easily." - Eliyahu de Vidas,

"Through accepting suffering one can obtain much benefit. Suffering breaks a person’s arrogance and conceit. It leads him to humility and directs him to accept the sovereignty of the Almighty." - Avraham Shmuel Finkel

"The first virtue of all really great men is that they are sincere. They eradicate hypocrisy from their hearts. They bravely unveil their weaknesses, their doubts, their defects. They are courageous. They boldly ride a-tilt against prejudices. They love their fellow-men profoundly. They are generous. They allow their hearts to expand. They have compassion for all forms of suffering. Pity is the very foundation-stone of Genius." - Anatole France, pen name of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault

"We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never so helplessly unhappy as when we have lost our love object or its love." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Of all the animals on earth, man has shown himself to be the most cruel and brutal. He is the only animal that will create instruments of death for his own destruction. Man is the only animal on all the earth that has ever been known to burn its young as a sacrifice to appease the wrath of some imaginary deity. He is the only one that will build homes, towns, and cities at such a cost in sacrifice and suffering and turn around and destroy them in war." - James William Fulbright

"True religion teaches us to reverence what is under us, to recognize humility, poverty, wretchedness, suffering, and death, as things divine." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Habit has great power. We can become used to almost everything. We can become so used to a life of suffering that we are no longer aware that our suffering is not the way life should be lived. This tendency to lack a feeling of suffering is the biggest obstacle to becoming elevated through suffering. Since we do not feel the suffering, we do not pay attention to it and do not hear its message.. To overcome this, we must obtain an awareness that whenever things are not as they should be it is a message that we should improve ourselves in some area." - Avraham Grodzinski

"Suffering has the ability to weaken one’s desires. It can separate a person from cleaving to material matters. When one is in the midst of suffering, he can see it is possible for him to live without gratifying his desires, and without honor and approval. Little by little, he becomes free from those things he was previously bound to. His suffering can help him open his eyes to see his true self and internal wealth." - Avraham Grodzinski

"Suffering is meant to benefit not only the individual who is personally suffering. It is meant as a teacher to anyone who sees it or hears about it. The suffering of anyone in the world can serve as a tool we can use to learn lessons that will elevate us." - Avraham Grodzinski

"The purpose of suffering is to arouse a person to improve his ways and this is the greatest good for a person. This love of the Almighty manifest in suffering is not merely to save a person from retribution in the afterlife, but also to elevate a person and assist him in attaining more virtues." - Avraham Grodzinski

"Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts; not amidst joy." - Felicia Hemans, fully Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans

"Suffering is a great teacher. Suffering teaches you the limitations of your power; it reminds you of the frailty of your health, the instability of your possessions, and the inadequacy of your means which have only been lent to you and must be returned as soon as the Owner desires it. Suffering visits you and teaches you the nothingness of your false greatness. It teaches you modesty." - Samson Raphael Hirsch

"There’ll be no night in Heav’n, In that blest world above; No anxious toil, no weary hours; For labor there is love. There’ll be no sorrow there, There’ll be no sorrow there, In Heav’n above, where all is love, There’ll be no sorrow there. There’ll be no grief in Heav’n, For life is one glad day, And tears are those of former things Which all have passed way. There’ll be no sin in Heav’n; Behold that blessèd throng, All holy in their spotless robes, All holy in their song." - Frederick Dan Huntington

"A large amount of physical pain and suffering is caused by one’s thoughts and behaviors. The desire for food causes people to overeat and consume food that is harmful to their health. Envy, anger, and honor-seeking lead to diseases of the heart, high blood pressure, nervous tension and excessive stress. Moreover, even when you pain is basically caused by physical symptoms, your mental attitude towards the pain can greatly increase or decrease the actual amount of suffering you experience. The pain you suffer from illnesses and injuries is frequently more psychological than physical. A person who learns to master a calm and serene attitude towards life trains himself to tolerate physical pain and the actual suffering is greatly lessened." - Pinchos Hurwitz

"We should utilize every experience as a tool for elevation. Even when someone acts in a condescending manner towards us, we can view the situation in a positive manner and grow from the experience. When we suffer emotionally from a situation, we create the negative attitudes ourselves and hence the emotional suffering is our own creation." - Yosef Y. Hurwitz

"The Godhead is impassable; for where there is perfection and unity, there can be no suffering. The capacity to suffer arises where there is imperfection, disunity and separation from an embracing totality; and the capacity is actualized to the extent that imperfection, disunity and separateness are accompanied by an urge towards the intensification of these creaturely conditions. For the individual who achieves unity within his own organism and union with the divine Ground, there is an end of suffering. The goal of creation is the return of all sentient beings out of separateness and that infatuating urge-to-separateness which results in suffering, through unitive knowledge, into the wholeness of eternal Reality." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"I have great admiration for power, a great terror of weakness, especially in my own sex, yet feel that my love is for those who overcome the mental and moral suffering and temptation through excess of tenderness rather than through excess of strength." - Anna Jameson

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." - Garrison Keillor, fully Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor

"We usually view praying due to suffering that the suffering comes because of external situations and hence we have to pray. But this is not correct. The purpose of the suffering was that we should pray. By pouring our hearts to the Almighty, we become closer to Him and the suffering is a tool for our elevation." - Yosef Zev Leipowitz

"The most precious of all possessions, is power over ourselves; power to withstand trial, to bear suffering, to front danger; power over pleasure and pain; power to follow convictions, however resisted by menace and scorn; the power of calm reliance in scenes of darkness an storms. He that has not a mastery over his inclinations; he that knows not how to resist the importunity of present pleasure or pain, for the sake of what reason tells him is fit to be done, wants the true principle of virtue and industry, and is in danger of never being good for anything." - John Locke

"Morality is not an imposition removed from life and reason; it is a compendium of the minimum of sacrifices necessary for man to live in company with other men, without suffering too much or causing others to suffer." - Gina Lombroso, fully Gina Elena Zefora Lombroso

"Envy comes from foolishness and a lack of understanding. When you are envious of someone, you do not gain anything and o not cause a loss to the person you envy. The only person who loses out is you. There are some people whose foolishness is so strong that whenever they see someone else they know have some good fortune, they feel pain and suffering They are so pained by what others have they derive no pleasure from what they themselves possess." - Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, also Moses Hayyim Luzzato, known by Hebrew acronym RaMCHal

"It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive." -

"What really raises one's indignation against suffering is not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffering." -

"By analyzing your worries, you will become aware that all worry is useless. Worries fall into two categories: worrying about the past and worrying about the future. As regards to the past, worry will not change the situation. You are compounding your suffering or loss by your present worrying. If you are worrying about something that might happen in the future, do what you can to protect yourself and prevent a loss. If there is nothing you can do, all your worrying will make no difference. So why waste your present moments worrying?" - Rabbi Eliezer ben Isaac Papo, aka "ha-Kosesh" or "The Saint"

"A person once came into a room where a few people were sleeping. The sleepers were dreaming nightmares and cried in their sleep. The person who was awake did not join them in their crying for he realized it was merely a dream. Similarly, I realize this world is like a dream. People upset over worldly matters are as in the midst of a nightmare. I am awake and am cognizant of how illusory worldly suffering really is." - Rabbi Eliezer ben Isaac Papo, aka "ha-Kosesh" or "The Saint"

"Suffering itself does not less afflict the senses than the anticipation of suffering." - Quintilian, fully Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, also Quintillian and Quinctilian NULL

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind... the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be." -

"Suffering is the surest means of making us truthful to ourselves." - Jean Charles Sismondi, fully Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi