The Conservation Law of Suffering

Muh. Syahrul Padli
4 min readFeb 5, 2024

(Muh. Syahrul Padli — Reflection Series)

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Happiness is temporary, but suffering is eternal. It sounds very strange for most of people on earth. And that is understandable. We are not used to accepting different interpretations of happiness and suffering.

Indeed, that quote is not the ultimate truth. There is no logical or systematic explanation either.

Not everything needs to have a logical explanation. As long as believing in something has value, why not?

I believe that suffering is eternal. All humans who live or choose to live will experience their own suffering.

But suffering is basically something relative. There is no certain standard. There is no way to measure it accurately.

Even so, we can first define it so that we have a common ground.

Suffering is anything that disrupts the well-being and happiness of an individual. Not having money is suffering when living in a world that uses money as a means of exchange to obtain something. Not having a partner is suffering when living in a world that believes that humans should be in pairs.

Suffering depends on how a person see the events that come to them; the perception of the people around them; and the disturbances that have the potential to disrupt the goal of survival for as long as possible.

From all of the above definitions, poverty will only become suffering when people consider it as a bad thing, they are in an environment that considers poor people as trash with no power, and poverty is at a level that can make them go to the grave as a corpse faster.

I will change what I wrote at the beginning. Here it is:

For some people, happiness is temporary, suffering is eternal.

Suffering will be eternal for those people. Suffering can even be formulated into a law called the conservation law of suffering.

The eternal that I mean is not that it will exist forever as long as God. Eternal here borrows the law conservation of energy that we learned in junior high and senior high school.

That energy is eternal because it changes into other forms of energy and it continues forever at least as long as the people or the universe still exists.

In the conservation law of suffering, all suffering that a person goes through turns into new understanding, recognition, satisfaction, happiness, new resilience, or even extreme actions of taking enough breath and many other possibilities.

From my explanation, we can then expand it into a more complete version.

The conservation law of suffering can now be a philosophical concept that tries to explain that suffering, in all its forms, is an inevitable part of life.

This concept explores the idea that in life, suffering has always existed, even if one form of suffering can be overcome, another form may come again.

In nature, the life of organisms also depends on their ability to adapt. But organisms other than humans may not consider the threat of predators as suffering.

If they can overcome it, they will be more resilient. If not, they become extinct. It’s simple.

Human consciousness is the source of why the concept and meaning of suffering arise. And then suffering ultimately becomes a unique experience for each person. There may be similarities for most people, but overall the concept of suffering will have its own details for each person.

Although each person can go through difficult periods or crises, suffering does not really end; it only metamorphoses or shifts form into something that is easier to be faced or something that can no longer be compromised.

In addition to the suffering that is clearly visible, there is also suffering that is hidden inside the people. This can be feelings of loneliness, loss, or unanswered essential questions about the meaning of life that may not always be visible from the outside.

People may be able to overcome one form of suffering, there is a possibility that another form of suffering will emerge. This can be a new challenge that requires different understanding and adjustment.

There is a complex relationship between suffering and happiness. Some people believe that suffering is an main part of the process of achieving goals and success, and that the experience of suffering can shape character and resilience. This is similar to how a movie needs conflict to mature its characters.

The Importance of Understanding Suffering

Understanding the conservation law of suffering can give humans a greater level of empathy for others. They may become more aware of the fact that every individual may experience suffering, even if it is not visible from the surface.

For some people, understanding the conservation law of suffering can strengthen resilience and mental toughness. They may develop the ability to face challenges with their heads held high, realizing that suffering is a natural part of life’s journey.

Suffering can motivate them to seek deeper meaning in every life experience. Then, from this search for meaning, it can become a driver for spiritual growth and self-reflection.

Choosing to live can mean accepting the consequences of challenges and difficulties. By understanding that suffering is a part of humanity, individuals can develop a healthy attitude of acceptance.

Suffering can be a source of growth. By living through suffering wisely, each person can transform it into an opportunity to learn, grow, and deepen their understanding of themselves. Questions about what can be learned from suffering and the ability to endure suffering can guide this process.

With an understanding of the conservation law of suffering, I hope that some humans can manage suffering wisely, integrate it into their life journey, and even use suffering as a tool for personal growth and a deeper understanding of life as it is.

Takalar, 5 Februari 2024

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Muh. Syahrul Padli

A Science Teacher, Head of Penghayat Sumur Community and Digital-Creative worker. co-Founder YT Bawah Pohon Science (an alternative education platform).