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The WHY of human suffering

(22 Posts)
giulia Thu 23-Jan-20 06:05:08

After reading the thread Do You Believe in Prayer, I thought back to when I was an angry, rebellious teenager quarreling with her mother about religion:

I demanded to know how she could believe in a good God when we were living such miserable, unhappy life. She calmly replied with a metaphor about a useless lump of metal. The smith takes this piece of metal and hammers it and put it through fire and water and hammers it again. In the end, he has a useful instrument or an object of beauty.

In time, I came to realise her metaphor is true: how often are the warmest, most caring people we know the very same people who have suffered most in life? These are usually the happiest ones too and are certainly the ones we turn to for comfort in times of need.

gmarie Thu 23-Jan-20 07:17:14

giulia, I went through something similar as a teen except that my parents were atheist. I went through a lot of angst trying to figure out religion, suffering, the significance of human life, etc. Books like Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" and Harold Kushner's "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" helped somewhat. Still struggle with it all but feel that any meaning derived must be grounded in connecting to and caring about others.

Hetty58 Thu 23-Jan-20 07:29:40

I was a very happy teenager. I thought (still do) that suffering is totally random, meaningless and pointless. The concept of religion just serves to provide an explanation, hope and purpose to our logical (yet tiny) minds. There is no why!

Sparkling Thu 23-Jan-20 07:40:50

I have never found the answer why good people sometimes have so much pain and tragedy in their lives. I am not a church goer, just sometimes. I do however pray every day, I try to live by Christian teachings, often straying though. By praying for those I love or those in trouble that I'll never meet focuses my mind as to what is important.

Anniebach Thu 23-Jan-20 08:48:25

There is only answer to ‘why me’ , - ‘why not you’

Urmstongran Thu 23-Jan-20 09:31:37

I think it’s the randomness of ill fortune that has led me to be a Humanist. Kindness while we are here. Then like a leaf we drop from a branch to the ground so it’s important to make the most of our lives with the people we love because - as I believe- this is all there is.

Nezumi65 Thu 23-Jan-20 09:37:15

I think significant difficulties can lend perspective so you learn a) not to take life too seriously and b) have a sense of what is really important and let a lot of minor irritations go.

Of course it can go the other way - I suppose the saying about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is very true.

gillybob Thu 23-Jan-20 10:05:32

When really bad things happen it does give you the chance to put things into prospective doesn’t it nezumi65 ? When my DH was very ill I found myself bargaining ( not sure who with though?) . If he could only get better I will never complain again ( really?) if he could only get better I will do more for others , if he could only get better I will do X,Y,Z ......

Luckygirl Thu 23-Jan-20 10:22:14

I really do believe that life is random, in the sense that things happen and we just have to accept them. You could waste an entire life trying to fathom these things and in the end would arrive at the same conclusion - we simply do not know.

Why do good people suffer? - because that is simply how the world is. We do not have, and never will have, an answer to the why.

All we can do is to embrace the not knowing as simply being the human condition - then move on and find some principles within yourself to live by. I believe the most important thing is kindness and I strive to live by that - don't always succeed of course.

Urmstongran Thu 23-Jan-20 10:27:18

Perhaps revisit some of those thoughts now gillybob now your husband is out of hospital. Change some of your priorities perhaps now you’ve actually got what you were hoping would happen? They came from deep within you to change aspects of your life. Maybe worth a bit of soul searching.

‘This isn’t a dress rehearsal’ we are told.

Best wishes going forward to you all. x

gillybob Thu 23-Jan-20 10:31:12

Yes indeed Urmstongran

Problem is he is going back into hospital very soon and I’m terrified I didn’t live up to my previous promises . sad

gillybob Thu 23-Jan-20 10:39:59

Also meant to add I have never had very high expectations of anything and not sure what aspects of my life I could really
change right now ?
On another thread someone tried to tell me how to be happy with the little things . I was tempted to reply “I would love to be happy with the simple things if only the bloody rotten things would clear off and let me”
but didn’t .

KatyK Thu 23-Jan-20 10:49:32

The trouble is that when you have had a lot of horrible things happen in your life, (as I have and many of you), it's hard to see the positives. I am a very negative person and find it hard to enjoy much really. I am always waiting for the next bad thing.

BlueSky Thu 23-Jan-20 10:52:06

I' m with Hetty and Urmstongran here. Wise words.

dragonfly46 Thu 23-Jan-20 10:59:13

I am a half full sort of person and believe good and bad things happen randomly. I also believe that good things can come out of the bad. I have had many more good things than bad!

gillybob Thu 23-Jan-20 11:02:34

I’m a negative person too KatyK .

Can’t remember the last time I felt truly happy .

KatyK Thu 23-Jan-20 11:09:38

gilly flowers Yes I'm the same. Not everyone is tiptoeing through the tulips.

Greeneyedgirl Thu 23-Jan-20 11:26:17

After a lifetime of trying to work out the "whys" of life, and a religious phase when younger, I am now in my old age firmly in the Humanist camp.
This has given me a better outlook on life, and helps me take responsibility for my own behaviour, to make the most of life, and try to be kind and compassionate.
Of course no one can really have definite answers, and I would not decry others who do not share my point of view.

MissAdventure Thu 23-Jan-20 11:27:00

I think that my personal tragedy has not made me a better person.
Just a hopelessly, forever sad one.

Greeneyedgirl Thu 23-Jan-20 11:34:46

I am so sorry MissA.
The problem is that life is bloody hard, and seems to hit some harder than others. It's random and there's no easy answer, and I feel it's a cop out to say that it's for a "higher purpose" hidden from us at present.
Hugs to you.

KatyK Thu 23-Jan-20 12:15:37

MissA flowers I've never found that the tragedies in my life have made me a better person - just more afraid. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Not in my case - although I must be strong because I've survived it all and so have you.

rosecarmel Thu 23-Jan-20 14:49:13

Life is suffering- And the answers to WHY it is can be explored and identified while engaging in practices that alleviate suffering-

Desire and ignorance are supposedly at the root of human suffering- At the same time, it supposedly isn't our nature to exist in misery-

My husband suffered with crushing, debilitating depression- A misanthrope if there ever was one, and proud of it in a cheeky way- When he spoke about wanting to commit suicide, which was often, I listened- And listened every time he expressed that he wished he was dead or that his heart would stop- Which it did-

But in between his miseries he laughed and smiled and fully engaged in life, immersed in the moment- It's a shame he didn't notice- A shame he didn't see the joy on his own face-
A shame that he didn't look at his own true nature, the nature that would have liberated him to witness his own flow of emotions, and discover that they weren't permanent but temporary -

We've much to learn, and unlearn, from each other-