suffering is the soul

December 20, 2002 Friday - 15:43

My self does not differ substantially from yours in terms of its thought. Many people, few ideas: we all think more or less the same, and we exchange, borrow, steal thoughts from one another. However, when someone steps on my foot, only I feel the pain. The basis of the self is not thought but suffering, which is the most fundamental of all feelings. While it suffers, not even a cat can doubt its unique and uninterchangeable self. In intense suffering the world disappears and each of us is alone with his self. Suffering is the university of egocentrism.

"Do you feel contempt for me?" Hippolyte asked Prince Myshkin.

"Why? Should I feel contempt because you suffered and continue to suffer more than we?"

"No, because I am not worthy of my suffering."

I am not worthy of my suffering. A great sentence. It suggests not only that suffering is the basis of the self, its sole indubitable ontological proof, but also that it is the one feeling most worthy of respect: the value of all values."

- Milan Kundera, "Immortality"

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