Why do we suffer?
“But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16)
Suffering is not always such a bad thing, as can be concluded from the passage above. Even the wisest and best of us will have to suffer at some point in our lives. There are, however, a couple of viewpoints to learn about suffering, and especially to remember in times of suffering. It is always important to seek for an explanation for our experiences.
Answering questions begins the healing
Many of us complain about our misfortunes and wonder, why we have to face such hardship. Dear friend, it is you who must answer that question! Why is it always so? What pattern do you repeat in your life which leads to suffering? Why do you choose those patterns? Are you actually in charge of your own choices or are you subconsciously following the choices of other people or perhaps of your parents (Superego/Reason)? How could you alter your behavior in the future? Knowing and studying the Way of Truth will definitely lead you to find those answers and the cause of your suffering.
What ever does not kill me will make me stronger
Suffering can also be considered through its opposite. Had we not heard of happiness or joy, suffering would not even exist. Suffering will teach us to remain thankful for moments where we experience joy – just like spending time alone will teach us to appreciate relationships and love, and like illness will teach us to be thankful for our health.
Suffering is also Nature’s way of refining us. When bacteria begin to spread on a surface they can be wiped out using alcohol. Alcohol destroys bacteria and causes mutation in them. The strongest bacteria will go into hiding and suffer a huge battle for survival. If spared, the bacteria will return even stronger. In other words, near-death situations result in refined super bacteria. This is the same process for all living organisms – humans, too. We refine through hardship.
Suffering and caste
People can be roughly divided into four castes: the priests or spiritual workers; rulers/soldiers; merchants; and labourers. The first significant source of suffering is the result of the caste division not being implemented as it was meant to. If you are a spiritual worker at heart, yet try to become one of the merchants, you will only cause yourself great suffering. If you are a labourer but your work is only measured in money according to merchants’ thinking, you will feel unappreciated since you intuitively strive for other values. The 21st century is the age of merchants, but it is now running out. People are approaching the end of suffering and once they wake up from it, they will want to change the world.
It must also be noted about castes that it is impossible to determine a person’s caste beforehand. This is why different forms of inheritance or legacy, or succession of the royal status are simply wrong. None of us are born into this world less equal than someone else – the inequality in the world is merely the result of the human ego.
Holding on to suffering
It is easy to become hooked on suffering, after all, it is an obvious way of subconsciously punishing oneself. Suffering, at its worst, is how we implement our sense of unworthiness which we have created in our subconscious minds. By doing bad deeds which are in conflict with our identities and values, we build our lives on sand instead of bedrock. The subconscious knows that it does not work properly or justly and starts to repeatedly create situations in order to attract the attention of the conscious mind. These situations will cause us suffering. To suffer is usually a cry for help originating deep within the person.
As any addiction, it is possible to conquer suffering. If you realize yourself to be a habitual sufferer you must study yourself for as long as you have reached the situations and experiences which constitute the origin of your suffering. If it seems impossible to find those reasons, it is worth getting to know the deadly sins and virtues, since usually resorting to sin is the reason behind subconscious suffering. You can change your mental patterns by evoking the opposite of the deadly sins – the virtues.
Suffering of the innocent
Sometimes people are amazed at the suffering of the innocent. By innocence I mean small children or even adults who face a tremendous pain in the form of an illness or an accident, for instance.
The Book of Job tells an interesting tale. It is about a man who, as if almost accidentally, is destined to face all the pain in the world. It is in fact his innocence which draws all the suffering to him. The innocent are tormented most of all, because they are like gold which is refined with fire. It is the way of the Holy Spirit and this is nothing to complain about.
On the other hand it might bring solace to know that death is not perdition or the end, but the beginning of a new cycle. Each life is in the shape of a circle – a line where the beginning and the end are intertwined. For as long as we have had consciousness about good and evil and life and death, we have known about the circle of life. Our own and our parents’ sins follow us through life and death. Have you noticed that people often implement those exact sins for which they judged their parents? This continuance is described in the Bible in the passage which teaches about sin travelling across generations. Usually a person consumed by bad deeds will die suffering, so that he/she would repent before death.
Suffering is in the mind
Finally, we must remember that suffering exists only in the mind. It is but a thought with which we associate negative emotion. We protect the animal side in us through suffering and pain. We feel great suffering so as to fear death and to realize that we are bleeding. We feel pain in order to stay alive. Experiencing pain, however, is caused by fear and the beast.
When a person realises the infinity of the universe, he/she will find it also easier to understand death - and to be released from the fear of death. Suffering is a form of fear of death and that is why it is so difficult to face and conquer. Every level of the human mind, all the way to the identity, wants to stay alive and to win. A release from suffering is found on a level higher than identity, and it requires great stamina and a thorough self-awareness to reach it.
Th Way of Truth
The greatest example of suffering is described in the Bible in symbolic language. The union of water and fire is symbolised by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, respectively. In Matthew 3:11 John tells us that he is the one who baptizes people with water. This means that water purifies us into virgin mindset, and we are prepared to contact our higher purpose and our Father. In the passage, this is symbolized with the color white and a white dove.
John continues and tells us that after him will come Jesus, who will baptize people with fire and Holy Spirit. This means that although a person’s mind might be pure, it is not enough. The mind is tested in real events and in front of people for it to be worthy of the Spirit. Therefore, a person who walks this path will always experience great suffering. The sins and evil deeds of other people will meet this person and attack his/her purity. This is called the final test, and our only comfort for this path is the words of Jesus himself in Matthew (24:13): “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Finally, there are two tests which form the union of water and fire. The water is called the “lesser” and "Baptism of Water" in the language of symbolism. In Kabbalah, the union of water is symbolised with the Pillar of Mercy. Through water, a person is reunited with Father. The fire is correspondingly called “bigger” and "Baptism of Fire" in the same symbolic language – and in Kabbalah, the Pillar of Severity. Everything we receive from Father through Mercy is tested later, once more, in front of other people. This is a much bigger challenge, and impossible to accomplish without the first aspect - our Father the Knowledge.
At the end, the route out of suffering is called the Way of Truth and its three phases - three baptisms. This mutual message is taught by e.g. Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad - only with different terms. The Way of Truth has been and will be always the same - such as the truth is.