Why do righteous people suffer while those who are wicked prosper? The subject of suffering has been an unsolvable riddle for ages. We see people acting morally and righteous who end up suffering immensely, while others who are careless and even evil at times seem to receive no punishment at all.
People cannot answer this question because most attribute the phenomenon of suffering to a PERSONAL ENTITY. When we do this, we assume that something or some force is passing moral judgment to our experiences in life. We fail to understand the injustice, the uneven distribution of suffering.
Anthropomorphism is the act of attributing human characteristics or behavior to something that is NOT human. Fairness, morality, right or wrong, and justice are human attributions. These attributions do NOT belong to nature, biology, life, deities, gods, consciousness, the cosmos, the universe, or whatever/wherever the elemental realm of existence, creation, and reality emerges from.
- Suffering vs. Pain
- Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering To Good People?
- Do Animals Suffer?
- How Many People Suffer from Extreme Poverty In The World?
- Suffering And Nondualism
- A Self-Inquiry Look on Suffering and Righteousness
- Hope and Faith in Times of Suffering
- Self-inquiry On Poetry: Poems and Quotes About Suffering and Pain
Suffering vs. Pain
What is Pain?
Pain and Suffering are NOT the same. Pain is your body’s function in charge of signaling physical harm or danger; it is your body telling you to stop or let go of the activities you are doing. Pain does not need a psychological story and doesn’t require a narrative in your head to arise.
PAIN is an intelligent signal that your body communicates through feelings of unpleasant physical sensations. This signal travels through sensory nerve fibers that cross the spinal cord and eventually reach the brain, thus becoming aware or conscious of pain.
What is Suffering?
Suffering, on the other hand, needs a story. It is psychological. It needs personal identification, which is a concept, thought, or narrative. SUFFERING is the struggle, denial, worry, regret, resentment, complaining, and self-pity wrapped around pain. Suffering is your intellect telling you to let go of that story or thought.
SUFFERING is only ONE of several psychological/biological end-result in the process of NATURE, NOT of human morality. That is the reason why it doesn’t make any sense from the viewpoint of a person.
Suffering is a phenomenon that is part of a human body-mind mechanism. The human being is a body-mind mechanism with an illusory sense of SELF; this illusion is called the ego. It is helpful for our survival, interaction, exploration, growth, and understanding.
This understanding, this data or information is not for the body-mind mechanism. It is for “THAT,” for who you truly are, the ONE consciousness/awareness localized in that particular body-mind mechanism.
Moral judgment is a Psychological process. Psychology is a result of your biology and environmental conditioning. Biology and environmental phenomena are both “NATURE” themselves.
If you want to alleviate suffering, you need to understand more about who you are, your true nature, consciousness; please click here to read more about this:
An Introduction to Who You Are.
Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering To Good People?
Some of the most painful questions in life revolve around the unfairness, pain, and mystery of suffering. Suffering can corner a person into a world of depression, sorrow, and hopelessness. Trying to QUESTION or make sense of “God’s” agenda or consciousness intention can drag us even deeper into the black eyes of the abysmal pit of a meaningless, purposeless creation.
- If God Loves Me, Why Do I Suffer?
- Why Does God Want Us to Suffer?
- Why Does God Make Some Suffer More Than Others?
- What Is God’s Purpose for Suffering?
- Where Was God When I Was Abused?
- Why Did God Give Me Abusive Parents?
- Why Does God Allow Disease?
- Why Does God Allow Innocent to Suffer?
- Why Do Children and The Innocent Suffer?
Before we ask these questions, we need to make sure that our definitions of God and Suffering make sense. If you want to alleviate your suffering, you need to understand some facts about the nature of these words. If you do, all these questions will dissolve immediately.
This realization doesn’t mean you ignore responsibilities or become indifferent; on the contrary, you will still attend to what it needs to with clarity, assertiveness, compassion, and love. Your actions will arise from a place of wisdom and intelligence, not of confusion nor desperation. Peace of mind will be your new state of being.
We talk about these definitions and their nature in the first segment of this article. If you haven’t read it, please do by scrolling up or clicking here to get there.
Do Animals Suffer?
Recent studies reveal evidence that ravens, crows, apes, dolphins, monkeys, and a few other animals provide cognitive self-awareness. However, even if animals have developed cognitive abilities and show signs of suffering when facing adversity, as of now, they do not even come close to the amount of psychological suffering as human beings.
Do Animals Feel Pain and Suffer When Being Eaten Alive?
There’s a wild animal documentary where a pride of lions manages to tackle down an elephant and proceed to eat it alive. Although the clip was short, the narrator explained that it took the elephant six hours to lose consciousness and die.
A horrible scene to watch and to try imagining the pain the poor Elephant went through. However, although there was immense physical pain, it will never compare to the psychological suffering of a human being. Elephants do not carry self-identity at the level which human Egos do.
For a person in that situation, the mental agony of loss and despair would be unbearable, not to mention the physical pain. But the understanding of morality and clinging to self-identity and personal history would be at an unspeakable level of insanity. The psychological suffering might even overlay the physical pain.
Why is all this pain and suffering necessary? This question again has the error of anthropomorphism. Suffering is a process of nature; “purpose” is the attribute of the human mind. Nature has no agenda; it unfolds in the realm of DUALITY, not or righteousness. The world of opposites carries a pendulum that endlessly swings both ways. Big vs. Small, Full vs. Empty, Hot vs. Cold, Good vs. Bad, Happy vs. Sad, the list goes on and on.
How Many People Suffer from Extreme Poverty In The World?
Around 9.2% of the world lives in extreme poverty. It would be arrogant to try to touch the subject of the suffering this group confronts every day. Therefore, we will focus on the rest of the population, who represent the average.
But even if our case study is the suffering of the AVERAGE person, we cannot say that the person did not enjoy life. Let’s assume that a person was very unlucky and suffered a similar death as the example we mentioned of the Elephant in the previous segment.
That situation is an extreme case, and of course, it is not a common death for people to die eaten alive by lions, but it is almost a certainty that suffering will be present at the time or process of death. If we take away the extreme cases of suffering and look at the phenomena as a whole, you are probably part of the group of people who have regular lives, will live over your 80’s and eventually die of old age.
Using this as an example, ask yourself, how many hours of laughter or fun have you had so far in your life? How many hours of happiness? How many pleasures have you enjoyed? How about love, friendships, pets, and other relationships? What about sex, ectasis, adrenaline, or excitement?
How many years of peaceful deep sleep have you had? How about epiphanies, admiration, inspiration, exploring faith, compassion, empathy, self-understanding, purpose, meaning, and hope? How many satisfying meals have you had so far? How many other good things have you experienced? Go ahead, add it up!
The math is not simple. But you can begin to see that things aren’t as one-sided as they appear to be. Every negative aspect in life tends towards being LOUDER. We see it in social media, the comment section on every platform, the news, and the people around. That’s just how it is.
If you walk into a room where you have an open jar of honey and dog waste on the floor, the whole room will smell like WASTE.
Who are we to claim to know how much pain suffering there is versus happiness and joy? NOBODY has the exact data; it is impossible. What if everything is in balance?
As Richard Alpert (a.k.a Ram Dass) once said:
“If somebody asks me, “Ram Dass, are you happy?” I stop and look inside. “Yes, I’m happy.” “Ram Dass, are you sad?” “Yes, I’m sad.” Answering those questions, I realize that all of those feelings are present. Imagine the richness of a moment in which everything is present: the pain of a broken heart, the joy of a new mother holding her baby, the exquisiteness of a rose in bloom, the grief of losing a loved one. This moment has all of that. It is just living truth.”
Of course, if you have suffered a lot, live in fear, are not enjoying life, suffer from depression, etc., you will have a hard time looking at this and might even feel apprehensive while reading it. That’s completely fair and understandable. It’s the name of the game.
Suffering And Nondualism
In Non-Dualism, Suffering is part of a whole that is not divided even though it appears to be. Suffering is commonly viewed as separate from happiness, but this is NOT the case within dualists. Think of suffering and happiness as sides of a coin, they appear to be opposites, but they are part of the same coin. They are the same.
A Self-Inquiry Look on Suffering and Righteousness
When we inquire about the nature of our suffering, we encounter a frightening discovery. Most of the experiences in life that have made us grow as a person involve some kind of suffering. Living a righteous life does NOT guarantee anything positive in terms of the “things” of life, but it does give you a sense of peace of mind.
When you live with this understanding, you know that life is happening through us, not by us. You don’t control the things that happen, never did, never will; it is a kind of a surrender that happens of its own. Only then do we see things as they are. We realize that NOTHING is personal perse and that suffering is also a teacher that allows us to grow as human beings. We may not like it, but this is a fact.
Hope and Faith in Times of Suffering
Surrendering to life is the only way to end suffering, not as an action you take but as a shift that happens on its own. As long as you feel a strong relationship with your ego, who you think you are, and this feeling” of “you” versus the world, and trying to control life, you will suffer.
When you realize what’s going on, you can see the cosmic play and its illusion. Only then can you be free from suffering. You understand that there is a bigger purpose than the “little old me” story; you realize that you are much more than what you thought yourself to be. In that state, hope or faith becomes irrelevant.
Your attention should be on finding out who you are, and the rest will happen on its own.
To find more about this exploration, go here! : Find Out Who You Are
Self-inquiry On Poetry: Poems and Quotes About Suffering and Pain
Suffering At the Human Level – The Heart
Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable. In other words, you go beyond just the horror and pain of it because it takes you beyond it. You can’t bear it, and it is only in the dark night of the soul that you’re prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves.– Ram Dass
Suffering As an Illusion – The Mind
There is nothing wrong with God’s creation.– Ramana Maharshi
Mystery and Suffering only exist in the mind.
When you take birth in a physical body, you think it’s real. And if you think it’s real, there will be suffering. The only reason you suffer is because of the clinging of your mind. If you suffer because you’re dying, it’s because you cling to life.– Ram Dass
Suffering Behind the Curtains – The Mechanism
To destroy the false, you must question your most inveterate beliefs. Of these, the idea that you are the body is the worst. With the body comes the world, with the world – God, who is supposed to have created the world and thus it starts – fears, religions, prayers, sacrifices, all sorts of systems – all to protect and support the child-man, frightened out of his wits by monsters of his own making.
Realize that what you are cannot be born nor die, and with the fear gone, all Suffering ends. I do not suffer; I cannot suffer because I am not an object. Of course, there is Suffering. But do you realize what this Suffering is?
I am the Suffering. Whatever is manifested, I am the functioning. Whatever is perceptible, I am the perceiving of it. Whatever is done, I am the doing of it; I am the doer of it, and, understand this, I am also that which is done. In fact, I am the total functioning.– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
A Poem About Suffering
Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today, I still arrive.
Look at me: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird whose wings are still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope,
the rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing in the
surface of the river.
I am also the bird which, when spring comes,
arrives in time to eat the mayfly.
I am a frog swimming happily in the
clearwater of a pond.
I am also the grass-snake who,
approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
I am also the merchant of arms, selling deadly
weapons to Uganda.
I am the 12-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after
being raped by a sea pirate.
I am also the pirate, my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with
plenty of power in my hand.
I am also the man who has to pay his
“debt of blood” to my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes
flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it
fills up all the four oceans.
Please call me by my correct names,
so that I can hear all my cries and my laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are but one.
Please call me by my correct names,-Thich Nhat Hanh
so I can become awake,
and so that the door of my heart be left open,
the door of compassion.