Why does suffering exist, and what causes it?
“Why does suffering exist, and what causes it?“It was almost five months to the day since Sida had been kicked out of the house; five months that Boonma had not been home at all; five months that Ort had had to take care for his grandfather and younger brother all on his own.” (Korbjitti 91)
“Why Ort kept wondering, hadn’t he been born into a rich family, like the ones he saw when he was running around selling newspapers?”(Korbjitti97)
Each member of the family has been going through some sort of sufferings affecting each other into leading to a greater issue as a whole. Ort, the eldest son in the family, has been destined to take the responsibility of the consequences caused by his family members’ sufferings. Even though he is still an elementary student, he is in charge of collecting the money to support his very ill grandfather, clueless younger brother and himself. He questions sometimes why he was born in a poor family instead of a rich family.
I personally think that going through suffering is a normal thing for all humans; however, the way we handle each suffering becomes the key difference to the consequence towards each suffering. Moreover, the possibility of one being able to handle their suffering in a mature way depends on their mental capacity at that moment. During my sophomore year, I was taking three math classes while attending a cram school for TOEFL and Japanese math. This was a huge suffering for me back then as my workload was over my capacity. I was stacked with endless assignments which made me out of control causing me to end up with poor grades and a mediocre TOEFL score. I believe that if I understood my capacity better, I would have been able to make a wiser decision and handle my sufferings in a mature way.
The characters in the novel seem to be exhausted with their sufferings and are not in a stable mental state. Therefore, they end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Further on, the core factor leading the family into a disaster is the absence of a reliable adult beside the children. As Ort and Dam are still in a very young age, they need an adult who can lead them into the right direction. In their case; however, both of their parents have left them and the only adult beside them, their grandfather, has been ill and is unable to fully support them. This situation makes it difficult for the children to develop a wise mindset which is crucial when it comes to overcoming sufferings.
Should we pin our hopes or our blame for our lives on the spiritual or material world?
“Or was it that his karma was catching up with him?” (Korbjitti 90)
One of the profound topics discussed in this novel is how religion impacts one’s mindset and lifestyle. As the family introduced in the novel is Buddhist, they believe in “karma”, a belief that one’s actions in their previous life becomes a deciding factor to their fate in their current life. Due to this belief, the family blames their previous life whenever they face sufferings in life. When the grandfather was thinking about how he can not move his legs and go to work anymore, he mentions how his current struggles might have been caused by his karma.
In the novel, the characters seem to blame karma as the reason why they are going through a suffering situation. I personally believe that this mindset is the biggest reason for their endless cycle of poverty. The existence of karma can be a way to escape from reality and a motivation to behave well in order to have a better life in their next life; however, at the same time it is stopping people from coping with their struggles in the right way. I think that every struggle I go through is linked to some sort of behavior I took. This way I can reflect on my behaviors and lead myself in choosing the right decision next time. When I fight with my friends, there is no way I can get back with them by blaming spiritual things such as karma. I actually have to reflect on my behaviors and talk with them. Just like this, in order to solve struggles in life, we can not just blame the spiritual world but instead need to face our issues.