Suffering isn't Always Bad, It Can Help You Grow Spiritually

The Gift Of Suffering

Teacher: Humans have been trying avoid pain and suffering for millennia. They have created wonderful technologies, created cure for diseases which just a hundred years ago killed millions of people, increased their comfort.

Yet, as human comfort has grown, so has human misery. Humans are more miserable than they have ever been. Why?

Me: I have noticed it, though I don’t know why. They call it the first world problems. Since you are no longer scared of dying before the age of 6 from strange diseases, you now spend all your time complaining how your iPhone takes too long to boot up. Which is true in my case, did you know I read somewhere that Apple deliberately slow old devices to….

Teacher: Yeah, whatever.

Me: But its an outrage!

Teacher: And that’s another thing. Peoples lives are easier, but they are more angry. An army of Internet warriors spend all their time picking fights online.

This problem is worst in what you call the first world. Rich countries, with long lives and good incomes are the most miserable. People are depressed, thy hate their lives, their work, yet when they retire, they hate retirement and die within a few years. People don’t know what the purpose of their life is, and look to other people or the social media to tell them what to do.

Me: It is no better in 3rd world countries. In India, where I was born, people run after Gurus and astrologers to make their life easy. People go to Gurus not to get wisdom, but to find out when they will get a promotion, or when their evil mother in law will die.

Teacher: Yes, this problem has existed for thousands of years. Self help experts have replaced astrologers in the West, though they work on same principles.

Me: Ahem! Someone might get offended, and send me hate mail.

Teacher: And you think The Teacher cares?

Me: Well, you don’t. You don’t have an email.

Teacher: Haha! But I do care.

Let them hate. I’m not saying self help experts or astrologers don’t work. The problem is, they MIGHT work, which makes it worse.

Me: Worse how?

Why Suffering is Necessary

Or: How suffering is the best gift the Universe gives to us

Teacher: All the things humans have invented, all their superstitions, from astrology to God…

Me: Ahem. God? You trying to start a flamewar here?

Teacher: Yes, God. What most people worship as God is a mental projection of their own sick mind. This God is angry, hateful and vengeful.

People have invented all sort of things to run away from misery. They hate their pain, and would do anything to avoid it. If the pain goes away, they thank some imaginary God. If it doesn’t, they scream at God, and pretend to be atheists. Am I on the right track, S?

Me: A little too close to home.

Teacher: Laughs. Worry not, the Universe is full of Love and giving, but it cannot give what it doesn’t receive. But today we are talking about suffering, and why it is so necessary. Why it is in fact, a gift to humankind.

The problem of most spiritual (and unspiritual) people

Many people spend years meditating. One person has chanted a mantra a million times, another has been doing Vipassna for 20 years, a third has been teaching meditation for 10 years, and practicing for 30.

And yet these people haven’t reached “it”. They are still miserable in their inner life, though they might try to act all spiritual and holy to others.

Why is this?

Why do people spend years meditating with nothing to show for it?

Me: (Interlude) I myself spent 7-8 years meditating for 3-4 hours a day. I would get up at 5 in the morning, do 2 hours of meditation, and another 2 hours before sleeping. Did this for almost 8 years, had no effect, became disillusioned and gave up. Spent the next 7 years as a hard core atheist.

Teacher: Yes. What you don’t realise is, those 7 years spent as an atheist were AS important as the years spent meditating. Because it was in this 7 years that the lessons you had only been reading about were turned into practical advice, often WITHOUT your conscious knowledge.

What turned you back to meditation?

Me: Intense suffering. Lost my job, company screwed me out of benefits, having only 1-2 months money to live, and all job interviews turning bad.

Teacher: Yes. And that’s what is needed. Intense suffering.

The problem is the ego. You read the Gita, you read the Dhampadda, you read the Koran or whatever, and the ego takes over the message. It takes the message and interprets it according to its own worldview.

You have read how the Vedanta and the Course in Miracle say the world is a dream. They don’t mean the world is not real, rather the world YOU SEE in NOT REAL.

You project your own thoughts on to the world.

Me: What does that mean?

Teacher: It’s like an angry man thinks the whole world is angry. Or an over-sexed man thinks the woman are deliberately trying to tempt him. In both the cases, the problem lies inside the person, but they project it on to the world. Suddenly, it is the fault of someone out there that I am so angry / hateful / jealous.

We rarely see the REAL world. Instead, we see the projection our own mind and thoughts. The mind interprets everything it sees.

So the sun is shining, and the mind says “It is too hot! Why can’t it be cooler?”

It is raining, the mind says “It is always raining, what bloody awful weather, I wanted to go for a walk.”

In both the case, the sun or the rain are neutral, and yet the mind has interpreted them to be enemies.

That’s what the ego does to remain in control. It will read the religious scriptures, but rather than be changed by the book, it will try to co-opt the message.

And that is why you can have people reading about Jesus, a man who forgave even those who killed him, and interpret his teachings to start wars, or torture people, or enslave another race. In each case, the mind sees no contradiction, because the ego always convinces you You are doing the right thing. How can you be wrong? You are so spiritual!

Yet, you cannot fool the Universe.

That’s where suffering comes in. Suffering is a told ro crush the ego, to smash it to bits. Only when you are feeling completely helpless, when you realise you are out of your depth, when you realise that all your plans have failed, only then can you be open to the SPIRIT.

Only then can you say: “I have been wrong all along. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND ANYTHING. Please teach me.”

And that’s when the universe can really help you. What have I told you about meditation?

Me: That real meditation is getting the mind to just SHUT UP for two minutes, so the Divine experience can roll in.

Teacher: (laughs) Exactly. Suffering does the same thing, except in a more permanent and long lasting way. For most people, suffering is the only way they will awake. It’s not a matter of getting them to start meditating, or getting them to join your church, or follow your Guru, or whatever else silly steps most over zealous humans try to do.

They may follow your Church or your Guru, but then they’ll end up as stupid as everyone else in that Gurudom/Church.

No, the solution is that they need to go through their own bout of suffering. Their ego needs to be crushed, and throughly.

The Insane Ego

Each one of us carries the seeds of insanity within us. We are, truth be told, totally insane.

The only reason we get away with it is because other people are as insane as us, if not more.

What do I mean by this?

If you look at your mind, really look at it, you will see it acts like a mad person.

One part of your mind will say: I need to lose weight. Another will say: Maybe, but first let’s have this delicious donut.

And once you have that donut, the same mind will then shame you. “You disgusting fat pig! Have you no self control!”

It’s like we have multiple personalities within us, all out to get us.

If you saw a person walking on the street, talking to themselves, screaming insults, would you not decide they are a little crazy and avoid them?

And yet, what do you do? Do you not do the same? You may not shout loudly, but you are talking to yourself in your head, constantly judging yourself and others, constantly looking to either attack or defend yourself from imagined slights.

This is what is caused in spiritual lingo the Ego. It is an insane part of you, the part of you that talks to itself, the non-stop stream of thinking / judging / analysing that all of us go through.

And like we have said before, ego LIKES to be in CONTROL. And so it constantly creates situations that increase drama in our life, so that there is always stress, always something going wrong.

You want your dream job, and you get it. And the ego will start telling you how bad your boss is, how you could do better. Or now it wants an even higher paying job. The ego is never satisfied, because the ego is born of strife, and if your life became peaceful, the ego would have to die.

Sometimes, the ego doesn’t even need an excuse. It will look at something stressful in your life and try to blame you for it. You have an example, don’t you, S? from our last talk?

Me: Yes. I was guilty as I hadn’t meditated for a few days, and then some problem at work came up. And my mind said: Aha! You didn’t meditate, now God is punishing you.

Teacher: Yes. And I told you the Universe doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work by shaming or attacking you. The Universe WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY ABOVE ALL ELSE. It would rather you remained unspiritual and happy than a miserable spiritual person.

And remember what I told you about how to deal with the problem at work?

Me: You said to remain calm and trust the Spirit, and that the solution would present itself. And it did. But I would never have found it if I had been stuck in a cycle of self shaming.

Teacher: self shaming. Yes, that’s how the ego works, constantly attacking and belittling you.

Me: We have been taught that if we are too happy, “they” will get us, will bring us down a notch; where they can be Karma, God, other people, energies etc.

Teacher: And now you know: Being happy, being joyful, is your birth right, and the universe wants you to be happy.

Question time: If the Universe (call it Spirit or God or Being) wants to help us, why do our prayers often go unheard?

Me: Ummm, the phone line is bad? God is in the shower when we call?

Teacher: Yes, he is always in the shower, as many humans never get through to him!

Rather, it is the humans who have difficulty listening. You must know why by now.

Me: (Pretend to act real smart and wise).

Teacher: Because most human problems are created by the ego. They are created by your own mind, and the solution is ALSO IN YOUR OWN MIND.

All that the Universe can do is guide you out of the hell YOU created. It does so by giving you wisdom to see how you are responsible for your own misery, and then guiding you out of that misery.

Me: What about things like, when people need money, or are poor?

Teacher: You faced a financial crisis when you lost your job. You were miserable then. If God had given you a million dollars, would that have solved your problems?

Me: Not really. I would have found something else to be miserable about J

Teacher: Exactly. The Inner Teacher or Guide helps us by giving us what we really want.

Normally, we say things like “I want more money, or I want true love”. You may fool others with these words, but you don’t fool the Universe. It knows that even if you get your pay rise or “true love”, you will find a reason to complain, to start looking at other men/women soon.

And that’s why most prayers go unanswered: because you ask for things that do not make sense, and WOULD NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY. But that does not mean the prayer is not heard, it always is. Just that the Inner Teacher reserves the teaching for you, and tries to guide you to what YOU ACTUALLY NEED.

Most Suffering is Resistance to the Present

You have in your mind a mental idea of how the universe should work and how it should treat you. You need to be a millionaire by 30, have a sexy partner who listens to your every desire, but who in turn wants nothing from you.

And you get angry when your desire are not fulfilled.

Here is the thing though: the Universe always gives you MORE THAN YOU NEED. It is only your own resistance that either stops the universes gifts, or makes you miserable.

Me: How stop the universe’s gifts?

Teacher: You can only accept as much as you are open. If you trust the system, if you are willing to let go, if you are willing to show your fellow brothers and sisters the same Love YOU expect from the Universe, then the Universe can reward you.

If you are full of anger and hate and jealousy, you block the Love of Being, which means you suffer.

Me: Does that mean poor people, or people in 3rd world countries are all blocking the light?

Teacher: But are they suffering? It is only your ego that thinks so. Many of the poorest people in the world are also the happiest. Some are miserable sods, but then you can’t please everyone.

Me: HA!

Teacher: The Universe always gives you MORE than YOU NEED. That is the key fact. Whether it is money, sex, houses/cars, the Universe has your back. Unless you block the energy of the Being from flowing through you.

One way you can do that is by forcing your own opinions on the World. “The world should be like this” or “I have been meditating for 7 years, I deserve to get enlightened by now, dammit!”

Me: Yeah, I don’t know who you are talking about now. I will swear in court I never said that.

Teacher: Haha. Where does all the misery in the life of humans comes from?

Resistance to the Present.

Don’t believe me? Give me a few examples when you, or anyone else you know or read or heard about, could be miserable. Go on. Give us 5-8 examples.

Me: you sure, buddy? Cause I will throw some tricky ones out.

Teacher: Hit me.

Me: Ok. In no particular order:

  • Losing job, or about to

  • Facing bankruptcy, imminent

  • Not finding love

  • Hating person you are married to

  • Boss hates you, job sucks, pay is terrible, you can’t find another job

  • Pinky and the Brain cancelled on TV

Umm, that’s it, I think.

Teacher: Good.

Let’s look at these. Most of these examples, and any else you could think of, have to do with losing something.

Losing your job, or your lifestyle, your home, your family; in case of not finding love or perfect job.

In either case, you have a mental idea of something that should happen (or not happen) to make you happy.

If I don’t find a perfect job, I won’t be happy. If I lose my current job, I wont be happy. If this, if that, or this or that, THEN I won’t/will be happy.

You do not understand the present. You live either in the past or future.

Me: HA! I have heard this Live in the present bull crap before. But what happens if you are facing bankruptcy like tomorrow? How do you live in the moment then?

Teacher: Tomorrow is still a day away, isn’t it? Why are you worried about tomorrow today?

And it is possible you will be bankrupt. You might lose your savings.

But you must have trust that the Universe will provide for you. That is where the Gift of Suffering comes in. It does not come to punish. The Universe, or God or Being, DOES NOT TEACH BY PAIN.

That is your own ego. It creates situations for you to suffer, and then it gleefully enjoys itself while it blames you.

If you ever face a situation where you are facing bankruptcy, your partner is leaving you, and all his going to hell, remember: YOU CREATED THIS SITUATION.

I know, harsh. But true. Maybe not at a conscious level, but the ego is rarely under your conscious control.

The solution then is no to blame, to get angry, or to worry. It is to stay in THIS MOMENT, and ask the Inner Teacher for help. Ask your Guide for help.

The Universe will always give you a way out. It will always give back anything you lost. Give your own example, S.

Me: Well, my previous company screwed me out of tens of thousands of pounds of redundancy pay. I trusted the Universe to guide me, and I have gotten, or will soon get, most of that money. MORE, in fact. The Universe is returning the money I lost WITH INTEREST. Lots of interest, as I’m getting many multiples back, thanks to a job with a bonus scheme.

So thank you, Teacher, your advice to be patient and trust the system was right. BUT, there were a painful few months that had me crying in tears everyday. It was a very stressful time; and though you told me nothing would harm me, I was still terrified.

Teacher: And that is the Gift of Suffering. It gives you a bigger perspective, a Higher View, as it were. It shows you how mundane, how tiny, the problems of daily life are. How there is a huge OCEAN OF LOVE looking out for us EVERY SECOND. And yet, we humans turn our back on this ocean, and try to pretend we are all alone, that our problems are ours to solve alone.

If only we open our Hearts, the Ocean WILL Flow thru us, spreading its Love throughout our Being. In that point, there are no problems, no pain, no suffering.

If you are still struggling in the mundane world, the Ocean has the solution for you. As the Course in Miracles says:

The solution to every problem is created at the same time as the problem arises.

We just have to be attuned to the Universe to listen to this answer. S, you had an experience of the Ocean, didn’t you? Share it?

Me: Well, I was watching this movie where a mother dies, leaving a little baby alone. And it made me sad.

I went out for a walk, and this Realisation hit me. Literally, hit me like a bus. It was an experience I can’t explain, but let me try.

I Realised that the world is a Place of Joy, not in spite of suffering, BUT BECAUSE OF IT.

Because no matter how much you suffer, you can, at any time, LITERALLY ANY TIME, turn to an Ocean of Love, a calm loving presence, called God, Spirit, Being, whatever; and that all your sorrows and little pains melt away when the sun like light of Love falls on you.

Like I said, this was a spiritual experience, and most people will not be able to realise this in their own lives. But the path is open to them.

Teacher: It always is, to everyone. Everyone, no matter how evil your society thinks they have been, murderers, rapists, lifelong criminals, psychopaths, each of us is equal in Being.

All of us have the SAME chance to feel the Love And Joy of Being, if ONLY we are willing to open our Hearts.

Most people cannot open their hearts. They think love means sexual love, or even worse, sexual attraction, or selfish controlling emotions masquerading as love.

And that is why they need the Gift of suffering. Because suffering, as seen by the ego, is the best way to cut through millions of layers of bullshit created by the ego…

Me: Haha, you aid bullshit. Not very Guru like.

Teacher: Nope. That’s why never won Guru of the Year Award, or Most Popular Spiritual Person in the World Award. J

So suffering can cut thru the layers of ignorance created by the ego, and show you YOUR TRUE SELF.

It puts you in touch with the universe. It shows you YOU DON’T NEED to struggle ALONE. That you can ask for, and will receive, whatever you need and desire.

So don’t run from suffering. Don’t try to avoid the bad times. Don’t try to be positive all the time.

Me: Being positive is the new religion. People get blamed for everything, like falling sick, saying they weren’t positive enough.

Teacher: And there may be a kernel of truth in that, but it becomes harmful when it becomes an instrument of shaming, which is what the ego usually does. ‘It is your fault for falling sick / losing your job, as you should have been more positive’ is the classic way the ego tries to keep you in check.

Note there is a simple check to see who you are listening to / taking advice from.

Ego: Will make you feel depressed, shit, lazy, unwilling to work, Feel like “What’s the use of anything.”

The Inner Teacher / Spirit: Will have a loving and kind voice though very silent.

Will make you feel calm, loving, and willing to act in the world without selfishness.

You can only serve one master, like the Bible says. Choose carefully.

And remember this: SUFFERING IS A CHOICE.

You suffer because you listen to the ego, and it drives you insane. Once you realise that there is something bigger than you looking out for you, there will be no need to get sad or depressed, because YOU WILL KNOW, at your deepest level, that you are not alone, that the Ocean of Love is looking out for you.

This is NOT an intellectual understanding, you must FEEL this in the deepest part of your Being.

Until you can do so, you might need Suffering as a Teacher. But don’t worry, it is a teacher that will soon be gone, once your Real Teacher, The Spirit, comes forward.

And that’s when the end of suffering will began.