6

In some religions, suffering is seen as a positive thing, some people even see it as a necessary step for growing, however in Buddhism suffering is seen as something that should be avoid or eliminated, we don't invite suffering, we want peace and there is nothing wrong with it.

So, is there anything like a positive and necessary suffering in Buddhism?

7

Yes, there is, as mentioned in the Upanisa Sutta of the Samyutta Nikaya:

"Faith, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for faith? 'Suffering' should be the reply.

(SN 12.23, Bodhi, trans)

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote an article on this sutta here:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel277.html

As he puts it:

The Buddha's declaration that suffering is the supporting condition for faith points to the essential backdrop to the awakening of the religious consciousness. It reveals that spiritual awareness and the quest for enlightenment do not arise spontaneously in harmony with our natural modes of world-engagement, but require a turn "against the current" a break away from our instinctual urges for expansion and enjoyment and the embarkation in a different direction. This break is precipitated by the encounter with suffering. Suffering spurs the awakening of the religious consciousness in that it is the experience of suffering which first tears us out of our blind absorption in the immediacy of temporal being and sets us in search of a way to its transcendence. Whether in the form of pain, frustration, or distress, suffering reveals the basic insecurity of the human condition, shattering our naive optimism and unquestioned trust in the goodness of the given order of things. It throws before our awareness, in a way we cannot evade, the vast gulf stretching between our ingrained expectations and the possibilities for their fulfillment in a world never fully susceptible to domination by our wills. It makes us call into question our schemes of values built upon the bedrock of personal expedience. It leads to a revaluation of all values and a new scale of worth indifferent to the claims of self-concern. And it opens us to confidence in an unseen order of relations and inter-connections, an order in which the values that emerge, so often in forceful opposition to the old, will find their proper justification and reward.

I guess I'd put it more simply: suffering leads one to put one's faith in spiritual practice because one no longer sees pleasure in mundane existence. It leads one to gain faith in the Buddha's teaching specifically because it teaches that suffering is a fact of life, which one has come to verify.

So yeah, suffering is important. There is another sutta (Padota Sutta) that talks about four types of thoroughbred horses as a simile for humans:

"Once more, monks, here we may have a goodly thoroughbred man who neither hears it said... nor yet with his own eyes beholds... nor is his own kinsman or blood-relation afflicted or dead, but he himself is stricken with painful bodily feelings, grievous, sharp, racking, distracting, discomforting, that drain the life away. Thereat he is stirred, he feels agitation. Being so stirred he strictly applied himself. Thus applied he both realizes in his own person the supreme truth, and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom. Just as, monks, that goodly thoroughbred steed on being pierced to the very bone is stirred, feels agitation, even so using this figure do I speak of this goodly thoroughbred man. Of such a sort, monks, is the goodly thoroughbred man in this case.

(AN 4.113, Woodward, trans)

So there is definitely the idea that suffering spurs one towards enlightenment, at least in a preliminary way.

2

For me a sense of dukkha (suffering) is the originator and foundation of my motivation to practice Buddhism.

I think it's instructive to consider the imagery of the wheel of life in this regard. It is the human realm not the God realm that is seen as the most favourable realm to be reborn in. To some this might seem counter-intuitive but the human realm is the only one where it is possible to get enlightened. The God realm is undeniably great but without the impetus of some suffering there will be no enlightenment. It is only with a moderate amount of suffering within the human realm that we can step off the wheel entirely and into liberation.

I think generally I am in an extremely fortunate position and can spend a lot of time in my own personal heaven realm (this won't always be the case of course - old age, sickness and death). So for me a small sense of dukkha is good, certainly to keep me moving with practice.

1

There are two kinds of sufferings in Buddhism: the suffering of Samsara and the suffering of exertion.

The suffering of Samsara, is famously defined as:

Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are dukkha; being together with the unloved is dukkha; being apart from the loved is dukkha; unsatisfied thirst is dukkha.

Or to summarize, "this world sucks, get me outa here". As was pointed out by other respondents, this works as motivation for Spiritual Quest.

But there is a different kind of suffering in Buddhism, called the suffering of exertion. This happens whenever we go against, and through, our pathological habits; whenever we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone:

(in this translation the code-word for suffering is "stress")

Furthermore, the monk notices this: 'When I live according to my pleasure, unskillful mental qualities increase in me & skillful qualities decline. When I exert myself with stress & pain, though, unskillful qualities decline in me & skillful qualities increase. Why don't I exert myself with stress & pain?' So he exerts himself with stress & pain, and while he is exerting himself with stress & pain, unskillful qualities decline in him, & skillful qualities increase. Then at a later time he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was exerting himself with stress & pain. That is why, at a later time, he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain.

Suppose a fletcher were to heat & warm an arrow shaft between two flames, making it straight & pliable. Then at a later time he would no longer heat & warm the shaft between two flames, making it straight & pliable. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was heating & warming the shaft. That is why at a later time he would no longer heat & warm the shaft between two flames, making it straight & pliable.

In the same way, the monk notices this: 'When I live according to my pleasure, unskillful mental qualities increase in me & skillful qualities decline. When I exert myself with stress & pain, though, unskillful qualities decline in me & skillful qualities increase. Why don't I exert myself with stress & pain?' So he exerts himself with stress & pain, and while he is exerting himself with stress & pain, unskillful qualities decline in him, & skillful qualities increase. Then at a later time he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was exerting himself with stress & pain. That is why, at a later time, he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain.

This is how striving is fruitful, how exertion is fruitful.

As you can see, just like in some other religions, there is "positive and necessary suffering" in Buddhism. It is not pleasant to restrain one's impulses. It is not pleasant to meditate. It is not pleasant to go through one's fears and preconcepts. It is not pleasant to have one's ego die. But this suffering seems to be necessary in order to tame the mind, and, eventually, transcend all suffering forever, as explained in the surgeon parable:

It's as if a man were shot with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. As a result of being shot with the arrow, he would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon. The surgeon would cut around the opening of the wound with a knife. As a result of the surgeon's cutting around the opening of the wound with a knife, the man would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. The surgeon would probe for the arrow with a probe. As a result of the surgeon's probing for the arrow with a probe, the man would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. The surgeon would then pull out the arrow. As a result of the surgeon's pulling out the arrow, the man would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. The surgeon would then apply a burning medicine to the mouth of the wound. As a result of the surgeon's applying a burning medicine to the mouth of the wound, the man would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. But then at a later time, when the wound had healed and was covered with skin, he would be well & happy, free, master of himself, able to go wherever he liked. The thought would occur to him, "Before, I was shot with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. As a result of being shot with the arrow, I felt fierce, sharp, racking pains. My friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives provided me with a surgeon... The surgeon cut around the opening of the wound with a knife... probed for the arrow with a probe... pulled out the arrow... applied a burning medicine to the mouth of the wound. As a result of his applying a burning medicine to the mouth of the wound, I felt fierce, sharp, racking pains. But now that the wound is healed and covered with skin, I am well & happy, free, master of myself, able to go wherever I like."

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