Why is there suffering?

It’s Pagan Values month in the blogosphere and, while I’ve been doing my best to keep up on some of the contributions, I’ve stayed on the sidelines as far as participation is concerned.  I don’t know what I have to say that hasn’t been said.  I also don’t know if I could articulate it very well.  I suppose, if anyone is really interested in what I think, they can get an idea by reading my essays on Druidic virtues.

I was going through my reader this morning when I came across a link to a Pagan’s blog – an entry about suffering in regards to Wicca by Diana Rajchel.  Really, I found it to related to Druidism as well.

She begins by talking about the horrific things people do to each other.  I agree with Rajchel about evil.  Some humans have moments or lifetimes of evil.  My hearth culture has examples of possibly evil people or spirits.  Many cultures do.  It doesn’t have to be a devil.  So many Pagans throw up their arms in disgust about the concept of evil because they worry it brings them back to some form of Christianity.  Perhaps they are uncomfortable with the idea of evil…  Be that as it may, there are people out there who do horrible things such as rape, mutilate, torture, and commit genocide.  Those happen because someone is psychotic or makes a very bad choice.

But back to “natural” suffering – disease, tornados, tsunamis…  The things that Rajchel rightly point out impact everyone – humans, plants, and animals.  She states, and rightly so in my opinion, that suffering is a message to us that, to the powers that be, humans are not above the natural world.

The first time I remember thinking about suffering was when my 40 year old aunt slowly died of a rare form of cancer.  Now, I think of it whenever there are major disasters.  I think of it when I see animals on the side of the road.  I thought of it at the doctor’s office, scared that – maybe – something was wrong.  That last time was of particular interest to me because it was me.  My desire for an answer became more insistent.  I wondered what the point of life was if there would be suffering.  I watched and read a bit about Buddhism for answers since suffering is what drove Siddhārtha Gautama on his quest.  In the end, I basically decided what Ms. Rajchel states – that suffering is the price of life.  Perhaps it is part of some great cycle of reincarnation or a process of initiation into the Other World.  Perhaps it is just a price for existence and when the ride is over that is that.  Who really knows?  But suffering exists and life ends up being about how you deal with it and the beauty you find despite it.  The grace of my aunt as her body decayed around her is something that continues to inspire me.

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

2 thoughts on “Why is there suffering?

  1. A lovely memorial, and thank you for referring to my post. My father died of leukemia in April of 2009. It came on unexpectedly, and while I can’t know the extent of his suffering, I saw how it rippled through our family. This has left me food for thought that I’m not ready to write about yet – about the suffering that teaches us how to better survive. While I don’t think all thinks chalk up to evolutionary biology, they are an undeniable factor in our experience and our connection to nature.

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