Why is there so much pain
and suffering in the world?
Not a day goes by that you don’t feel physical and mental
discomfort. Sometimes it becomes acute. Why? First you are
living as an animal that tries to survive for as long as
possible. During this fruitless battle your body is assaulted
from within and without. Sooner or later it will succumb. During
your life you will also encounter mental anguish. Loss is
inevitable. It does seem unfair doesn’t it? You’ve been a good
person, you don’t deserve it. Or maybe not so good, so maybe a
Of course, you can always react in a primitive fashion to pain
and wonder what you have done to deserve the retribution of the
gods. You can attribute the nastiness to evil spirits, the
devil. You’re just trying to make some sense out of it after
all. So, why all this pain?
If there is no reason for your existence: you live, you die for
no apparent reason, then your pain is of no consequence. It just
happens to be part of what happens to you in this life. The best
way to deal with it is to bear with it stoically and try to keep
it to a minimum by being cautious. Limit your entanglements with
others and take the necessary pills. Avoidance at all cost… of
pain that is!!
BUT, perhaps there is a reason for the pain: It builds
character, makes you tougher to meet life’s challenges. To some
extent this is probably true varying with each individual. But
you want to know why so much suffering.
You are a spiritual being participating in a physical world.
This world is transient matter, you are not. You must maintain
focus on what is important to you as a spirit. Pain and
suffering help you do this. Far fetched? Not really. Think about
it. The more you and those close to you suffer the more you
depend on inner resources: contemplation, imagination, loving.
You realize the futility of the physical and embrace what is
important: the workings of spirit and transcendent goals.
When someone close to you is having a difficult time, you must
care for them more intensely. Your loving grows exponentially.
You often use resources that surprise you: patience,
forbearance. You touch another in ways that truly matter. You
grow by loving more.
And when your turn comes to suffer, hopefully someone will be
there for you. In any event, your suffering is a harsh reminder
that your physical life is not dependable and will not last
long. You must use your resources to nurture what truly matters:
your fledgling spirit.
In the movie “Doctor Zhivago” Omar Sharif's character is being
transported in a cattle car. Looking through slats he manages to
gaze at the moon and stars. He recalls the music of his youth.
In this most abject circumstance he manages to find beauty.
Though he is sad his intrepid spirit soars. He is truly beyond
the mere physical.
In Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” he recounts his
experiences in concentration camps. What gave him the will to
persevere was his devotion to his wife who was also interred.
Though he was unaware of her death, Frankl maintained his love.
His spiritual caring for another extended to other prisoners. He
would also view the beauty of the sky and be transported. He was
truly a spirit soaring above the morass.
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