Human Suffering Human suffering happens every day, everywhere, in many types and ways all around us. We do not always see it, but that does not mean it does not exist. When we do see it exist we commonly ask ourselves, “Does human suffering have meaning?” I can answer this question easily. Yes, it does have meaning. I can answer this because of the four readings we read. However, as I examine this question deeper I see that the four readings have different ideas on “meaning” or the reason for suffering.
Looking at the definition of the verb (to) suffer, “feel or undergo pain; sustain damage or loss,” we see that suffering is something that can happen because of more than one action. Each of the readings explained a different way of suffering. In their basics, some described mental suffering and others described physical suffering. But, more deeply than that each reading contains a certain kind of suffering. The Epic of Gilgamesh describes that suffering is caused by death.
The Book of Job describes how suffering is caused by sickness, loss of possessions, or loved ones. Buddhist explains suffering caused by our mental anguish. Night describes suffering caused by others. These readings give us meaning to suffering so that in the future we can avoid suffering, and if we can not avoid it we can at least explain it. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells us that suffering happens because of love.
Gilgamesh suffered only because he loved Enkidu. After Enkidu was killed by the serpent Gilgamesh suffered tremendously. This was an example mental suffering. Gilgamesh did not bring on Enkidu’s death. It was his desire for Enkidu to die.
It just happened fighting the serpent. He deeply mourned his brother’s death. This drove him to find that special root to make him immortal. Although this was just a story, in its day it was thought to be a book of teachings. Suffering was a direct result of death and love, but it was suffering that drove Gilgamesh on. It ended up making him stronger.
Suffering is not a good thing, but you do get past it and you can learn from it. We see this in The Book of Job too. To Job, suffering happens as a result of God testing us. A Satan questioned the followings of God’s people. This led to God testing his best subject, Job.
God made Job suffer in the worst way any human being could. This would be physical suffering and mental suffering. When God took away Job’s family and possessions, he suffered mentally. All of his possessions and loved ones were gone without a reason known to him. It was physical suffering when he was struck with sores about his body.
This also gives reason to suffering that happens when you can’t explain it. Even a person who thinks that they are perfect can suffer. You could be just like Job, almost a perfect worshiper. That would be even more the reason for you to be tested. The Book of Job is one of the teachings of the Bible, a spiritual and religious guide. A person reading this would believe that suffering is a test.
It is a test of your faith, your faith in God. Therefore, if we were suffering, as long as we keep faith, the suffering will end. As long as we keep faith the suffering will stop, and better things will happen and develop. The Buddhists have other reasons for why we suffer mentally. They believe that the cause of suffering is desire and craving. Buddhists say, “Ignorance is manifested in greed that fills the human mind.” Greed, being something that causes desire and craving, is a cause of human suffering.
It is our want for something that we can not obtain that makes us suffer. When we were children we whined, threw fits, cried, got angry, and more just because we could not have something. Most of the time it was something that we did not need. In turn, we suffered. Even as we are older, although they may be a little more involved, such things still happen.
These grown-up versions of the childish games are our desires and cravings. However, according to the Buddhists, we can overcome them. To overcome them we must follow the “Noble Eightfold Path.” It consists of Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Behavior, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. “The way of life which is free from all worldly passion and suffering can only be known through Enlightenment, and Enlightenment can only be attained though the discipline of the Noble Eightfold Path.” The book Night gave us an example of physical suffering. As a whole the Jews, in the views of the Buddhists, did not desire or crave anything.
They did not suffer because of something that they did. They suffered because the Nazis thought that Jews and the religion was inferior. The Holocaust was a result of the Nazi’s belief. Nazis made the Jews suffer physically by trying to eradicate them and putting them in concentration camps. The Jews were put through tremendous hardships, suffering greatly.
They suffered as a community and as individuals. Yes, suffering does have meaning. It happens because of certain, different reasons. Losing a loved one, someone who you were close too, can send you into a state of depression. A loved one is a person who was apart of you. When they go, you start to wonder when you will go.
You suffer mentally. God could potentially test even his best followers. This would explain the unexplained suffering. If our mind is not on the right path we could cause ourselves mental anguish. We would suffer mentally because of our desire and cravings.
Even if you make it past all that, you could suffer physically by the hands of others. Some sick and demented person could find a reason and the force to persecute you. No madder how it happens it is still suffering. It can be avoided in one case, but then come back at you, unavoidable, and hit you the same when you don’t expect it. Any one of us could feel or undergo pain, or sustain damage or loss.