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Pain

Pain
November 06, 2011, 09:51:58 PM
most people would like to think that all the pain they experience in their lives makes them stronger. a kind of samurai, spiritual take on it. however this, like Plato's cave analogy has not been proven. happiness and pain come in intervals. the intervals do not necessarily pile on to each other. go to a 24 hour cafe and take note of the 60 year old homeless people passed out. no one will give a shit if they die tomorrow. they have absolutely nothing. they live for their next meal. Are they strong? or just deteriorated from a lifetime of pain. We attach meaning to pain, but just like dopamine rushes there's nothing to it except that your organism is being damaged.  

Re: Pain
November 07, 2011, 12:12:51 AM
It doesn't have to be a "samurai, spiritual take." There are different kinds of pain, and when people talk about it making them stronger they're not usually referring to the physical type, which you seem to be doing here by saying that it indicates damage to one's organism. Even in the case of physical pain, however, it does make you "stronger" -more likely to survive- by telling you what to avoid.

As for homeless people being an example of how pain only deteriorates, there are three counters. The first is that most people are capable of realizing that, as with all other things, it is in moderation that hardship becomes useful. Too much can be just as debilitating as too little, and the idea that "people experiencing nothing but hardship and thus becoming useless, empty shells disproves that people who experience no hardship become weak" is wrong because it completely misinterprets the latter argument.

The second is that pain makes one stronger not because it is painful but because of how that person responds to pain - an individual of healthy spirit will learn from his mistakes and wish to avoid repeating them, both strengthening himself against them and learning to avoid them outright. A man only becomes a failure once he stops trying to succeed; until then, he is a warrior, regardless of how close he is at any particular point in time to achieving his goals.

The third is that accepting pain is not the same thing as embracing it. Every athlete is familiar with the cliche "no pain, no gain" and it is true; to achieve good results you must go through trials and tribulations, whether this means sore muscles the day after a workout, denying yourself of luxuries in order to save enough money to buy a house or start a business, or sinking thousands of dollars into an education program required for pursuing a particular career. This is not the same thing as pursuing pain for its own sake in the mistaken belief that pain=strength. Nor is it the same thing as passively inviting pain into your life by either doing nothing to avoid it, or believing that is an inescapable fact of existence. The weak do this; they require pain because without it they have nothing, it is all they know and believe themselves to deserve. The great also require pain, but in their case it is because without it, they have nothing to overcome. Without hardship or struggle there would be no potential to rise ever higher.
HE WHO REAPS STORMS, SOWS WINDS. HE WHO SOWS WINDS, REAPS STORMS.

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart."
-Ecclesiastes 7:2

Re: Pain
November 07, 2011, 02:17:05 AM
istaros does a good job of breaking it all down.  And the best metaphor is weight-lifting.  The muscle fibers literally get torn from the resistance and you feel pain when you're lifting the weights and when you're sore the next day.  It's not so much that pain causes strength, but it is an inevitable byproduct.  So you have the resistance of the weights as the cause, and the outcome is strengthened muscles.  The pain is just in between those two things, a byproduct.  Perhaps those 60 year old homeless people are in the position they are in because their whole life they tried to avoid pain.
His Majesty at the Swamp / Black Arts Lead to Everlasting Sins / Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism / Oath of Black Blood / Privilege of Evil / Dawn of Possession / In Battle There is No Law / Thousand Swords / To Mega Therion

Re: Pain
November 09, 2011, 02:09:52 AM
An addition to the previous post is the concept of "Eustress" as opposed to "Distress". Not a biological distinction, the body may suffer either way, but in the sense that you gain pleasure, fulfillment or experience from the stressor that improves your existence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustress

The phenomenon of DOMS which I assume was being referred to with the weight-lifting analogy is not clearly understood. The idea of the soreness being caused by torn or repairing muscle fibres is popular in the weight-lifting community but does not have quite so much traction in sports physiology. Nevertheless, that this pain is fulfilling beyond a reflexive release of pleasurable neurotransmitters is probably true. An ocean of anecdotes may not be the best proof, but it suffices in the absence of scientific inquiry. This is not a slight on the example, but a clarification of the phenomenon to prevent misunderstanding.

Re: Pain
November 09, 2011, 06:03:23 AM
Right.

The point is not to brutalize yourself but to challenge yourself.

But yeah it seems there are a dozen psychologically perverse interpretations for every sane spiritual idea.
"It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures." - Van Gogh

Re: Pain
November 10, 2011, 05:50:37 PM
The idea of the soreness being caused by torn or repairing muscle fibres is popular in the weight-lifting community but does not have quite so much traction in sports physiology.

that's true.  actually I now recall that the soreness is caused by some sort of acid/fluid build-up?
His Majesty at the Swamp / Black Arts Lead to Everlasting Sins / Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism / Oath of Black Blood / Privilege of Evil / Dawn of Possession / In Battle There is No Law / Thousand Swords / To Mega Therion

Re: Pain
November 11, 2011, 09:59:53 AM
That is one probable element of a process that likely involves both damage (but on a microscopic scale) and build-up of metabolic by-products. Immediate soreness that stops you from continuing further temporarily, such as at the end of a set, is entirely due to that build-up. Again, your point holds regardless.

Re: Pain
November 11, 2011, 09:09:58 PM
Lactic acid build occurs much. That is one reason while drinking water is very important!

Pain has a face. Allow me to show it to you!

Re: Pain
November 12, 2011, 04:24:57 AM
And let's not forget that the psychological benefit of working out is no less noteworthy than the physical gains - in fact, I would suggest that the powerful self-discipline thereby gained is of far more importance than the muscle gained, as this is something which permeates through all of life and existence itself, and is a necessary ability for anyone who wishes to be successful. This is what makes you stronger in the Nietzschean sense - exerting your Will in the face of overwhelming pain and contra-force, and thus being becoming better able to exert your Will in such ways in the future.

Re: Pain
November 13, 2011, 01:52:45 AM
Another biological addendum; a portion of that "psychological" gain is undoubtedly due to the release of endorphins (some of which are basically opioids, the Morphine of the brain) and stress-coping hormones like Cortisol. These provide actual pleasure and an impetus to continue. Somewhat similar to "adrenaline junkies" and veteran soldiers. Therefore, the character building part I would say is a matter of the right perspective and mindset. Many people who work hard on their body are essentially weak, flaky men. The benefit exists, but must be realized and appreciated to be effective in my opinion.

Re: Pain
November 13, 2011, 04:17:23 PM
Another biological addendum; a portion of that "psychological" gain is undoubtedly due to the release of endorphins (some of which are basically opioids, the Morphine of the brain) and stress-coping hormones like Cortisol. These provide actual pleasure and an impetus to continue. Somewhat similar to "adrenaline junkies" and veteran soldiers. Therefore, the character building part I would say is a matter of the right perspective and mindset. Many people who work hard on their body are essentially weak, flaky men. The benefit exists, but must be realized and appreciated to be effective in my opinion.

It may well depend on the person. If you are a naturally physical person, then working out may well not do much psychological because no real change is taking place in the mind. On the other hand, if you tend to focus more on your world of ideas, then focusing completely on the physical will require a stability of mind which is crucial for development. Wherever you focus least, that is where you should focus your energy to become holistically functioning, and where you are strongest you should make as strong as you can to be as effective as possible. (you can picture the mind as being like a sphere, with the north pole being the source of your strength, and the south pole as the opposite of this. As you focus on the north pole, you increase the radius of the sphere, and as you focus on the south pole the strength from the north becomes diffused over the sphere to the locations it is best utilised for general functioning.