Have you suffered enough? I certainly have. Let’s find a way to end the suffering that continues to plague us.
For me, suffering refers to mental or emotional misery and distress, such as that caused by chronic depression. Pain, on the other hand, refers to physical discomfort or agony caused by illness or injury. But the terms pain and suffering are often used interchangeably, so my distinction between them may be artificial.
The Causes and Affects of Suffering
The sheer magnitude of human suffering throughout history boggles my mind, and to this day, it continues to ravage our experience here on Earth.
Religion has been one of the leading causes of suffering in the world and in our lives. I'm sure that's no surprise to you. Take Christianity, for example. For 2,000 years, Christians have been told that they should be willing to suffer in this lifetime just as Jesus did, and that their suffering will entitle them to eternal bliss in Heaven. Hundreds of millions of Christians have died excruciating deaths in the name of religion. Others have endured unbearable hardships and self-imposed trials such as penance and asceticism. Many have undergone redemptive suffering, believing it would lead to forgiveness of their sins. I grew up in an environment of Christian fanaticism, so I know first-hand how traumatic it can be and how much mental and emotional suffering it can cause.
In his teachings, the Buddha explained why suffering exists in the world and what we can do about it. He said that suffering originates within us. He said the greatest cause of suffering is our total ignorance of our divine nature and our belief that we are weak and limited physical beings. He said the only solution to suffering is a spiritual one.
My own experience tells me that suffering can impel us to overcome our habitual behaviors and addictions in life. It can ignite a spiritual awakening within us, followed by a lifetime of personal and spiritual transformation. It can prod us to remember what we really are and why we really came here. In other words, it can lead us to a spiritual approach to life. But it can do these things only when we finally get tired of suffering and decide to change our lives.
How to Reduce or Eliminate Suffering
I’ve given a lot of thought to how we can reduce our suffering in life or even eliminate it altogether. Let me share my conclusions with you...
We can gain freedom from suffering when we awaken to our own divinity and let go of the erroneous belief that this physical world and our physical bodies are real.
We need to reestablish conscious contact with God, because suffering originates from our belief that we are separate from God. Of course, when I use the term God, I do not mean the church-version of God.
At all times, we must remember that we are eternal spiritual beings.
We must understand that materialism will never bring us lasting happiness nor genuine relief from suffering.
We need to understand that suffering is not a result of evil or sin, despite what we were told in church, but rather the result of poor choices we have made in life.
We must live in the present moment. The past with its guilt and resentment will not bring us happiness nor will the future with its fear and anxiety.
We should stop taking all of that drama in our lives so seriously, especially the drama in our relationships and jobs. Life is not a soap opera. Most of the drama we experience in life is just a story we made up.
We should try to avoid people, places, and things that lower our spiritual vibration.
We should let go of negative emotions such as fear, anger, and resentment, which fuel our suffering.
We should stop judging and criticizing others, because it only serves to separate us from them. Our belief in separation from others is the leading cause of global strife and problems in personal relationships.
Likewise, we should stop judging and criticizing ourselves, because low self-esteem and self-loathing cause us enormous suffering and block our spiritual growth.
We should stop watching television news and violent movies, which only add to our discomfort and our false conviction that suffering in life is real and necessary.
We should focus only on what we want and not on what we don’t want, because we attract into our lives more of whatever we focus on. For example, we should focus on perfect health and not on sickness.
We should remember that our happiness depends on ourselves and not on other people. We are not, and never have been, the victim of other people, because we create our own life experience.
If we’re not happy with our current life experience, we need to change our thoughts, beliefs, and expectations, because these are what create our life experience.
We should remember that we pre-planned certain challenges for our current lifetime before incarnating. We came to Earth to accelerate our spiritual evolution by experiencing these challenges.
A Call to Action
Most people continue to live in ignorance, fear, and greed. They neither believe in nor understand these spiritual solutions to suffering. Apparently, they are content to go on living — and suffering — as they always have done. But as a spiritual seeker, you understand these solutions. You know they are viable.
Like most people, I still struggle and suffer. But I know what I must do to eliminate suffering from my life, and I believe I am making progress. Suffering is neither inevitable nor necessary nor desirable. We can overcome it by using the kinds of spiritual techniques and approaches to life mentioned above. Doing these things will help us create Heaven-on-Earth. Let’s do it! ❖