The author in the Alchemy of suffering describes the never-ending human suffering right from birth to the social and economic circumstances such as poverty and death tragedy. The author takes a Buddhist viewpoint on happiness and suffering in writing the article. The author was born and brought up in a family that understood how to embrace humanities as his mother was an artist while the father was a famous philosopher. He tends to create a juxtaposition between suffering and happiness as it was relevant in his personal life as his own parents lived with such contrasts. Furthermore, apart from his childhood life, he became a Buddhist Monk where he was taught the importance of compassion by his instructor. Suffering and happiness are birds of the same feather that work together and complement each other with regard to defining a person’s character or life. Suffering thus drags people into their deeper selves since through suffering through emotions, they become totally different people after suffering. The hardships that people go through motivates them to deeply understand their emotions so as to emerge victorious even in the midst of suffering. This article, therefore, focuses on Suffering is thus a human condition with respect to the article Alchemy of suffering by Ricard Mathieu.
The author clearly argues that suffering is a battler and for one to go through it successfully, they must embrace the four truths. Alchemy of suffering requires people to strive their way to the top and that suffering is a common factor regardless of whatever path anyone chooses to take or life to live. The author is of the opinion that the best approach to handle suffering is not enduring it, but implementing Noble truths that include understanding the pain one is feeling, doing away with the source of suffering, and curing it by making these truths a norm. I tend to agree with the author’s perceptions, acknowledging that suffering is fundamental to life and that suffering exists universally, is a step in the right direction. For those alive today, suffering is part of their lives and regardless of what one does or is, they must face suffering at some point in their lives.
In other words, human beings do suffer at every stage of their lives across the globe. Some even die during birth while others in the process of birth. Every minute, people perish, some are beaten, tortured, maimed while some are separated from their lives. Some are left homeless, rejected, betrayed, or abandoned. All these prove that there is a never-ending procession of suffering in human life. Those who die endure pain while those who survive to endure mourning. This is also the case for animals as often most of them devour every other in forests, oceans, savannahs while birds do so in the sky. Every minute, thousands of animals are being killed by poachers, and humans at the hands of their owners, going through tough chains across their lives; others are fished, hunted, smothered, trapped and tortured for their flesh, ivory, fur, skin or flayed alive.
For instance, people may not always agree with our opinions, some will hate while others will love depending on the opinion. People have to experience varying degrees of suffering so as to turn their lives around or perhaps strive towards happiness. The author has in various instances criticized those who boast or praise themselves and dispute any desires such people may have so as to always remind themselves of their actions since the only hindrance to their happiness is themselves. The author also draws examples from his personal experiences and how he was brought up. The advice is given by the author on how to endure suffering and get away from being tortured to death by various life challenges.
This means that the capacity of a person to think and recall brings with it a sense of separation and loss. To realize happiness in life, it is indeed fundamental to acknowledge suffering as an illness that affects each of us in different ways. It is true that human beings create an awareness of their life experiences that are affected by suffering as well as those experiences that remain unaffected. Humans are largely affected by a succession of thoughts and sensations leading to preoccupations and undue importance. It is thus very important to cast off such challenges by deeply understanding that in us that is not affected by suffering. According to Dalai, 2014, Calmness or mental tranquility is a key source of happiness and that external entity regardless of their power cannot directly strike our mental calmness. This is proof that calmness remains unaffected by suffering. Beyond the painful experiences of pain, simple alert presence does exist in our life experiences. This then allows enables humans to then experience themselves and the world at large. This then gives people a sense of hope even in the wake of suffering, that not all aspects of people’s lives are affected.
Human minds naturally when confronted with powerful emotions, human minds tend to find themselves deprived of some freedom. Understanding our minds, therefore, calls for a lot more than just understanding our mechanisms of suffering. Activities such as training our brains to respond in certain ways during suffering or training ourselves to better endure suffering could gradually bring the needed freedom to the human mind. The character of others as well as specific events are beyond the control of human beings. Nevertheless, it is easier to influence how such events are experienced. Through overcoming personal suffering experiences, humans can then implement many meaningful projects in their lives. Some human beings find temporary reprieve in leisure activities such as alcoholic drinks to try to cope with suffering. This does indeed reduce suffering in the short term but in the long term, it increases suffering. Such short term solutions are not worth is as they increase suffering. From the author, it is clear that despite the myriad challenges in getting a standard framework to deal with suffering across the world, there are certain recommendations that have worked overtime. The proposals by the author in dealing with freedom within the human mind or awareness of human suffering definitely come in handy for those who are faced with suffering.
Most virtues in the Alchemy of suffering are very relevant to the current societies, though they may not exactly portray how people ought to live today. All individuals have justifications to each of the beliefs. If one was to seek explanations from various people in a bid to understand their thought processes, the arguments of the author may not have meanings until one gets to understand each of their sufferings. In as much as I agree with the author to a greater percentage, I still believe that his arguments do not reflect everything or resonate with reality across the world. Suffering may be common across the world, but the approach of not enduring suffering and using noble truths may not exactly work in all societies. Suffering is a reality that is intrinsically embedded in our lives: suffering as well as the transitory nature of life experiences. Despite the fact that humans may feel overpowered by everything, powerless before suffering, running away from it is worsening the situation. Humans must be acutely concerned with it and try out everything possible to alleviate human suffering. The article by Ricard thus provides enough evidence that indeed suffering is a human condition and that we should find ways to solve it as opposed to enduring.