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 little pain??

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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