Why Are You Suffering?

Harziq Ali
4 min readSep 1, 2022


Suffering is what you spend most of your day doing.

You scoff: “My goodness, that is wrong! I’m not suffering! How ridiculous. Sure, I have bad moments and days, but I’m not suffering.”

You respond like a politician accused of a lie. Your defence goes up without thinking; the steel walls of your mind rise automatically.

Automatic. Often, one does not realise the nature of their own life because everything is so automatic. The ping of anger from your last minor argument. Automatic. The queasiness when you last assessed your finances. Automatic. The burn of envy from seeing someone with something you long for. Automatic.

And, oh, long for a great deal of things you do.

You plead: “I’m happy with my life! Sure, I sometimes want things to be different, but I’m grateful for what I have!”

Perhaps you work hard in life. Perhaps you pray, meditate, journal, spend time with family, and or exercise. Self-discipline. Education. Progression.

Where has all this gotten you?

Before you answer that, answer this: Why did you pursue such things to begin with? Did you not have a roof over your head? Food in your belly? Clean water?

More. You wanted things beyond basic sustenance. Have you ever asked yourself: Why?

Does a fly wish to move into a nicer neighbourhood? Does a dog desire better clothes? Does a tree hope the other trees will find its leaves beautiful?

Everything you have ever done is to serve your self-image. Everything. The work that has gone into your education, your career, your health, and even your family: All this centres around the creation, and maintenance, of who it is you consider yourself to be.

You’ve lived with this identity for so long, it almost seems crazy to question it.

So, who are “you?” Were you born desiring a high-paying job? The respect of your peers? Big muscles? No. You imbibed all these ideals as you grew older. You became “You.”

And this is the worst thing that’s ever happened in your life.

Society tells you to celebrate “You.” The things You can achieve; the way You can look; the people You can please. The blind are leading blind; you have joined their ranks.

There is an idea of a hungry man. A man whose appetite for all the things he can do — and all the world has to offer — is never satiated. The hungry man always wants more.

If people don’t admonish his hunger, they will instead preach to him: “You need to manage expectations. More will never be enough. Be grateful for what you have.”

When people say this to the hungry man, they are actually talking to themselves. Because they themselves are hungry. They think by voicing this purported truth about life, they will strengthen their own faith in it — the coping mechanism for their hunger.

The alleged wisdom is insincere. It is also nonsense. It is nonsense because having an appetite for the world, and all it has to offer, is what the hungry man has been told his whole life. Has the message now changed?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the ‘middle path’. Originating from Buddhism, it encourages man to seek moderation in all things. Is this the critical lesson for the hungry man to learn? To achieve a balance in all things, and bask in the glory of a perfect, peaceful life?

Such an idea is as realistic as the hungry man filling his appetite with the world.

Hedonism. Asceticism. Buddhism. Stoicism. Why does nothing work? Why is there no lasting remedy?

Wait. Have you stopped to ask: Where did this hunger come from? Is it not bizarre that you have spent your whole life burdened by it, but you never questioned its origin?

As a child, basic sustenance is all you needed. Provided you were not terrorised by other humans, you lived in bliss. There was no hunger for anything else; there was nothing to feed or resist. There were no ‘good’ decisions to make, or ‘bad’ ones to avoid. You did not need to look a certain way. No anxiety. No indecision.

No hunger.

The creation of “You” is the worst thing that has ever happened in your life because this is the source of your hunger.

Your back breaks as you toil to find the dream job for “You.” Your shoulders rip from their sockets carrying the baggage of relationships “You” have formed. The veins in your temples kick against your forehead when you deal with the disrespect someone hurls at “You.”

“You” has cost you your whole life. Yet, you’ve never stopped to think about “You.” How was it created? Why do I maintain it?

I have asked you a number of questions. Now, perhaps you wish to ask me one: “Can I overcome this “You”?”




Harziq Ali

Undergrad at Cambridge University