Why so much suffering?
“All sentient beings suffer during their lives, in diverse manners, and often dramatically. No field of human activity deals with the whole subject of suffering, but many are concerned with its nature and processes, its origin and causes, its meaning and significance, its related personal, social, and cultural behaviors, its remedies, management, and uses.”
“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.”
“Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell.”
“Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person. ln those transparent moments we know other people’s joys and sorrows, and we care about their concerns as if they were our own.”
“The world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.”
“Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit.
“The labourer cuts up the earth with his plough, and from that earth comes the rich and plentiful harvest. The more a man is chastened, the greater is the harvest of spiritual virtues shown forth by him. A soldier is no good General until he has been in the front of the fiercest battle and has received the deepest wounds.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 50
I’ve spent about as much time as most folks dealing with pain; recently, eleven months of debilitating drugs to clear a virus from my liver.
I’ve had my bumps and bruises from engaging with life on earth.
Now, at 62, my best advice is to strive to see pain as the mother of joy.
Like most philosophical or spiritual sayings, there’s a built-in, seeming-contradiction . . .
From William Shakespeare:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28
The chains of hollow
Imitation clasp their sterile links on
Minds so lost in routinized
Love can spawn but
Faithless certainties, like
Clockwork, build their
Superstitious blinds so even
Faith becomes the Devil trading
Hope for fruitless
“…the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed–love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.”
From a prayer by the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith:
“Thou art He Who, through a word of Thy mouth, hath so enravished the hearts of Thy chosen ones that they have, in their love for Thee, detached themselves from all except Thyself, and laid down their lives and sacrificed their souls in Thy path, and borne, for Thy sake, what none of Thy creatures hath borne.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 163