To suffer or not to suffer

Should you live a life of suffering? I wonder if this is an obvious question for you. Is it obvious because you should or shouldn’t?

If you live a life of growth you will live a life of suffering. A life of growth is a life where ambition, effort, frustration, struggle are ever present. Whether your targets are worthy or unworthy is pointless. The short bursts of ecstasy when you achieve your targets don’t hide the fact that, once you get there, al life of growth will point somewhere else, somewhere higher. And effort and struggle will soon reach over to you.

Growth seems to be hardcoded in us. It’s up there in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Is that need for growth something divine? Or is it just the manifestation of our biology? An impulse implanted in us to maximise our chances of survival?

Does suffering elevate us or degrade us?

Dukkha is the Buddhist concept of suffering. It is associated with the feelings described above: craving for what we don’t have, craving for what we are not. We get trapped in an endless cycle of trying (samsara), which induces a never ending dukkha. The whole point of achieving Nirvana is precisely to let go of those feelings, stop the cycle of trying (which only makes you suffer), and reach a divine state of presence and, for a better word, connection. This is what the 4 noble truths are all about.

Christians, on the other side, will be more inclined to rely on suffering and growth to deserve Heaven. Sacrifice and suffering are so much ingrained in the core values, just as Christ life and death very explicitly teach us. We must carry our own crosses too to aspire to something else.

I’ve personally found Truth and Peace (capital letters) in both. But both are pointing in different directions. I know we all like to reconcile stuff and create a bigger truths that are inclusive of both. I’m not sure it is possible in this case.

Lacking the ability to make up my mind for something so fundamental leaves me at the mercy of chance and happenstance. It forces me to think through every situation I live and decide what should I do in each case. Worst of all, it takes from you a light in the horizon to guide you in the long run. It leaves me lost in an endless sea.

Perhaps this is my personal struggle. This is my suffering and my cross. But then again: should I let go or should I embrace the search?

I wonder if I’m alone in this existential riddle.