Suffering is an Inescapable Part of Living
What is "suffering"? Does it have any advantages?
Suffering is an inescapable part of life. Whether it involves the minor bumps and bruises of daily living or major traumas such as terminal illness, death, or the breaking of a family, suffering touches all of our lives at one point or another. Helen Keller once said, "The world is full of suffering, but it is also full of people overcoming it". Though Helen Keller was not a philosopher, in this quote she tells us why the topic of suffering is extremely important in life. The fact that so many people face suffering everyday and question it's existence in their lives, is the reason that so many strive to make the best out of the times when they are not suffering. Suffering makes us stronger and more understanding individuals because it gives us a chance to rise above hard times and help others going through the same things. Without suffering, we would not have many of the religions and faiths that we see in the world today. This is because many times when people suffer, they question, "why is this happening to me" and find comfort in a religious group whose beliefs give them they answer they are looking for. On September 11, 2001, the United States was given an example of why suffering can be so important. We saw a nation of people with different religions, backgrounds, and beliefs come together as one. We see every day that in the wake of suffering, people come together without question to help each other through the hard times. Suffering also plays a large role in appreciating life by giving people a reason to make the most of the time, things, and relationships they have, while they have them. Seeing how quickly suffering can strike and change lives, makes people realize just how precious life is. We see this often times when someone loses a loved one and are left to question if they told that person enough how important they were to them. Many times when we lose something or someone close to us, we make sure to learn from that loss and grow from it. If suffering did not exist in daily living, how would anyone be able to know what true joy and happiness feels like? How would be we able to to learn to appreciate our lives and the people and things in them? Would we have faith or believe in something greater? As you can see, suffering really is an important part of life and it makes a difference in lives every day. Although suffering is not something people desire in life, it does make them who they are and gives them reasons to seek happiness. Many philosophers have pondered over the questions of suffering throughout history and have come up with my differing answers, views, and opinions. Siddhartha Gautama, Albert Camus, and Friedrich Nietzsche, each pondered this topic and have left us with three very different views on it.
Siddhartha Gautama is the man that Buddhists recognize as the founder of Buddhism, and the Supreme Buddha. It is believed that Siddhartha Gautama lived between 563 BCE and 483 BCE, but since there are no accurate records of his birth and death, others have suggested that he might have died around 410 BCE. Before looking at Gautama's views on suffering, we must look at the journey which led him to believe the things he did. Gautama's father King Suddhodana, wanted to give his son the perfect life and keep him locked away from life outside their palaces in order to keep him from experiencing the pain and suffering that existed in the world. Gautama led a very comfortable life, given everything he could ask for and never knowing unhappiness. At the age of 16, Siddhartha Gautama was married to his cousin Yasodhara, in what was said to be a happy, arranged marriage. They gave birth to a beautiful son and had a life that many desired, but it was not enough for Gautama. He felt as if his life was being used up, uneventfully, inside the hideaway life his father had created for him. He realized that he knew...
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Camus, Albert. The Notebooks (1942-1951). 1965.
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Wangu, Madhu. Buddhism. Oxford: Facts on File, Inc., 1993.
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