Why do we choose to suffer? How to alleviate suffering? Know Answer
written by priancaa Freelancer

Before coming straight to the questions, let me walk you through one exciting fact of Buddha's Life. Buddha was born in a royal family named Siddharta, enjoyed all the pleasures one could imagine. One day he went for a tour on his chariot witnessed the following things.

  • An old man
  • A diseased person
  • A dead body
  • Aesthetic whose face was brimming with happiness

Prince Siddharta was disturbed; clouds of questions surrounded him like 

  •  I, too, can get affected by a disease.
  •  I will also become Old and suffer.
  • I will also die
  • Aesthetic having nothing but still was happy

These questions gave Siddharta sleepless nights and restless days.

Suffering was the primary teacher to Buddha, to search for the answer "why do we suffer," "why there is suffering everywhere" Buddha left his royal life and wandered for years before attaining Nirvana or what we call as enlightenment.

Buddha's quest brought to light four noble truths.

  1. There is suffering
  2. There is a cause of suffering.
  3. Sufferings are surmountable
  4. Path to eliminate sufferings

Buddha's questions still haunt us to this day. His efforts and teachings are even now practical. Let us examine Buddha's teachings in light of the above question, "why do we choose to suffer?"

We don't choose to suffer, but sufferings are inevitable in Life. How do we suffer? These days anyone can become a cause for our suffering. Take, for instance: someone talks rudely to me; another does not listen, someone betrays me, I am having some health issues, I loose some dear one in Life, and the list goes on until I finally breathe my last. I am trying to say that I cannot control the situations and people around me, but I can control my behavior, actions, and thought process. 

Understanding suffering: Buddha says DESIRE is the root cause of suffering. If you have a desire, you will suffer in some way or the other. When one suffers, there is pain, agony, and hopelessness. Thus, greed breeds suffering. 

Let us analyze this fact and apply it to our lives. Desires are our key drivers. I have a desire to have a house, a good family life, decent income. 

We all wish for this essential fulfillment in Life. Then why we suffer? It is when our desires exceed the need. I have a house; now I want a bigger house, I have a car, but now I want another car. I will work more; I will devote less time to my loved ones and family to compensate for the vehicle. The family will suffer, My family members will start complaining, and I will begin to explain the need for a car, and the pains I am taking is worth it, and it is for their happiness.

I equate material possessions with happiness now. Imagine the effect single desire produce not only in my life but also on the Life of those associated with me. 

A single self-created desire is now my choice to suffer. Let me add a twist here, someone in my family gets hospitalized, and now I don't have money to pay the hospital bills. Will my newly bought car do any good? The delay arrangement for money causes the death of the family member. 

Now imagine the lifelong regret, the complaints, the hurt caused to other members, and me. 

I choose to blame myself for the death of my loved one. I suffer now my entire life; I doubt my decisions, other wishes, and needs.

To what extent a desire is good has to be evaluated by keeping a few crucial questions in mind. 

  • Do I need this? 
  • Is this important? 
  • Will it affect others? 

How to alleviate suffering since sufferings are inevitable, and we are humans; there has to be a way to alleviate suffering. Buddha gave the eightfold path to surmount sufferings. They start from having the Right thought to Right Mindfulness. To name a few of them having the right speech, right conduct, right living, right resolve. Doing things in the right way is called being SMART; Buddha was Smart, and he has given us a way to be Smart as well. Moderation in all that we do holds the key.

Excessive desires bring sufferings, followed by guilt, regrets, unhappiness. What I understand from Buddha's Life and his philosophy is that Life is simple; we make it complicated. Our mind is pre-occupied with all sorts of things; we stuff ourselves. We think that the more we stuff, the happier we are. A day comes when we are only sad stuffing, creating our sufferings and desires.

This interplay of desires and suffering is a vicious cycle. Moderation in all our lives activities help to a great extend.

Coming back to Buddha, who devoted his life to understanding the essence of Life, is here with us and among us. Minimum desires, moderation in all activities of Life. Living Life and not rushing through it will lead us to a more happy and balanced life; we do not choose to suffer; instead, we choose to take charge and control our lives.


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