Suffering brings Happiness?

Let’s think about this carefully for a few moments. Certainly suffering is horrible, and certainly there are better ways to learn life’s lessons than through suffering. I agree with you 100%. However logic tells me that these two true points do *not* support the conclusion that suffering has no worthwhile value whatsoever.

I’ll make this logic more clear by a parallel: Guns… Guns are nasty – just plain nasty. And there are certainly better ways to enforce social order and personal safety than by using Guns. However these two *very true* points do not mean that Guns have absolutely no value or purpose whatsoever.

That is still an emotionally charged example, so let me illustrate the logic with a less controversial parallel: Money… 1 Penny is pretty useless, and certainly there are more valuable coins and bills than 1 penny. However these two truths do not mean that a penny has no worth at all.

Suffering is terrible, and there are so many better ways to learn what we need to learn than to learn it as a result of suffering. These two points are valid – but they do not change the validity of the additional truth, that although it is nasty and not as good as other methods, suffering still is a valuable tool for self improvement.

We learn in two ways: when we experience pleasure and when we experience pain. When we experience pleasure we learn that we should keep doing the things that brought us that pleasure. When we experience pain and suffering, we learn that we should stop doing the things that brought that pain and suffering.

For example, one night we go to sleep in the autumn with the windows open and no blankets on. The next day we suffer congestion and sickness. Is that suffering horrible? Yes. Unfortunate? Yes. Useless? No, because it helps us learn that we should think ahead and have a blanket handy, keep the windows less wide open, etc. The next night we try this and wake up feeling refreshed and happy. Is this happiness wonderful? Yes. Fortunate? Yes. Useless? No, it is useful because it teaches us how to take care of ourselves.

Thus teachers and parents educate and raise children by a dual system of reward and punishment. The material universe is mother nature. She is “Mata Ji,” Ambika. She is our mother and our teacher. She is raising and educating us by rewarding our good actions with happiness and punishing our bad actions with suffering. This is called “karma.” It is the most effective technique for education and psychological development – because it utilizes both punishment and reward for positive and negative reinforcement and direction.

I have found, personally, that harboring resentment towards our suffering is a very negative situation that we should be eager to let go of. It is like the child who hates his parents for making him clean his room and take showers. “Why are they punishing me for not being clean! I hate them! They are stupid! There is no point to this punishment! I shouldn’t get punished!!!”

And consider this: To think that there is ANYTHING in this world which is meaningless or useless is to forget that God is full of love for everyone in this world.

I know that when suffering becomes extreme it is very challenging to understand that it has a purpose. But as we remember how extremely in need we are of growing up, and how extremely out of touch with good deeds we are, the more intense sufferings we experience start to seem more reasonable. Ironically, importantly, as soon as we adopt this attitude our suffering decreases.

I hope this helps, or at least stimulates you and us to consider the subject from many interesting angles.

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