People suffer because they have self-concern. We all have self-concern. We are all self-centred. I’m not sure it’s possible for it to be any other way. Suffering is a necessary part of life. It can be avoided, but not completely. Few things, if anything, can be perfect.
As far as the biological aspect of it is concerned, suffering has been around since the dawn of amoebas, albeit in a form alien and unrecognizable to us. Suffering and happiness, pain and pleasure, are all parts of the wheel of death and birth that keep the evolutionary system revolving.
It’s quite simple, and barely even has to be explained; the only difficulty we humans tend to have in understanding it is that we tend not to want to accept that the only, basic difference we have from all other living creatures is that our brains are the most powerful (though I hear we’re darn good at long-distance running, too).
We don’t want to accept the simplicity of our suffering and joy as evolutionary constituents because of our egos. We’re better than that. We must be, right? We RULE! The ego, by the way, is driven by the same apparatus.
We don’t suffer because of some anthropomorphized all-powerful being in the sky who has proven to be self-centred and ego-driven himself. God is too much like us to be anything but a human projection. He is evidenced in the bible to get jealous, angry, vengeful and cruel; to be demanding, barely-pleasable, and anything but understanding. He demeans women and murders children, and expects to be worshiped for something not a single one of us asked for.
God was created in our image, not us in his; he is a manifestation of an ego-driven human desire to be the centre of the universe, as we are all the centres of our own and have difficulty reaching into the worlds of others without practice.
Self-centredness begins full-fledged in babyhood and, in a healthy person, gradually corrodes as we age to be shed like the shell of a cicada. Or, at least, it should. God never shed his shell, nor does he encourage it much, because he’s an unfortunate leftover from the desert-roaming babyhood of humankind. He leaves people to enter the world already crowned with undeserved guilt, and no one should ever feel guilty for their suffering, because it only creates more.
That’s the real problem with god, and that’s why god isn’t such a good idea – not only is he unreal and unnecessary, he doesn’t much encourage true selflessness, generosity, or compassion, for oneself or others. God is not good, because god has an ego, simple as that.
I’m sure there are some whimsy-whamsical sects of religion who keep singing to an image of a cross while ignoring the bigoted, ignorant malice behind many stories of the bible, but all they’re doing is phasing god out slowly instead of dropping him altogether. The truly religious, those absorbed more in their doctrines than their own senses, those who figure Jesus is coming back and heaven’s a good place so what happens on earth doesn’t really matter, are the ones most prone to causing suffering in themselves and others.
Generosity, selflessness, compassion. These are the ways we expand beyond ourselves and find joy in helping others. Don’t give god, either. Keep your bible tracts and take your friends out for a picnic. Take your mom out for a few daiquiris. Buy your kittycat the more healthy, more expensive food. Hug a homeless person, and don’t forget to forgive yourself.
And never, ever, ever feel guilty for suffering. It happens to all of us, and it’s not necessarily our fault. The best we can do is learn from our mistakes, rather than beat ourselves over the head for them, or figure we ‘deserve’ them. The Sin Of Adam included.