Buddhism is sometimes accused of being pessimistic because it speaks so much about suffering, but it shrugs off such criticism with a smile, and asks: "What do you say?"

Around 1880, Sir Edwin Arnold wrote an account of the Buddha’s life in poem-form, entitled, The Light of Asia. Here is a verse from it:

Ask of the sick, the mourners, ask of him

Who tottereth on his staff, lone and forlorn:

"Liketh thee life?"—these say the babe is wise

That weepeth, being born.

Who can say there is more happiness and enjoyment in life than pain and sorrow—or even as much? We have only to look around us, at the overflowing hospitals, Homes for the Aged, Asylums for the insane, deformed, mentally-retarded, at the unspeakable horrors of war, and man’s inhumanity to man, etc., to realize that Hell is not a myth.

In spite of the suffering that always accompanies life, however, human beings—unlike other animals, which live by instinct—have developed and made progress. Indeed, had it not been for the suffering to impel and motivate us, coupled with our ability to criticize, visualize, imagine and assess, we might still be living in caves!

Life is suffering,

it is true,

but it also

provides us with

opportunities to


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