Why should we suffer?

Families, Religions, Societies do provide the same answers but in different ways assuring that “ This too shall pass….”.

Suffering is a part of life. Suffering is inevitable. Suffering ennobles character. But we do have cases where people give up as suffering is beyond limit.

Marxists, Leftists, Feminists, Environmentalists and Sectarian Philosophers deal with the question through their own conceptual frameworks.

Art and Literature, including epics, describe Suffering attributing to inherent forces operative within an individual and governing the world.

Humanists focus only on human reality and explain suffering as natural due to human limitations and follies.

Philosophy considers all of these answers as partial truths and presents the fundamental view, perhaps, reconciling all of the beliefs stated above.

Of course, different philosophies suggest different ways of tackling suffering. The most notable example is Buddhism. The First Noble Truth states the fact that Life is full of suffering. The second mentions its cause-rather, the chain of causes, the third one The way-Eightfold Path of Purity and Fourth Noble Truth is nothing but the Nirvana- The end of suffering.

Granting that Life is full of suffering, there are philosophies prescribing enjoyment, fun and frolic’; gaiety and delight; Beatitude and Tranquility; Stoicism and Optimism.

My point is that there are innumerable perspectives and Philosophy takes cognizance of each and every opinion tacit or explicit- stated verbally or expressed through art.

A very unique response to “Why Me?” is “Why NOT Me?”

It is observed that when favors are bestowed or benefits are received, we never ask “Why Me?” It is only when misfortunes are experienced, we cry “Why Me?”

The point is not to induce suffering justifying on various grounds but to understand the futility of attributing its source within or beyond. With the Enlarged Self, it is possible to deal with Suffering Philosophically.

Dept of Philosophy @ University of Mumbai