Why Do We Suffer?

eyeless_girlVarious explanations have been offered down through the ages to explain the suffering experienced by so many in physical reality. In some traditions, there are good gods and evil gods, constantly vying for supremacy over their Creation. In Fundamentalist Christian tradition, it’s humans’ fault that pain and hardship exists in the world, which was cursed because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience at the dawn of time; catastrophe is frequently seen in this tradition as God’s punishment for unrepentant human sin. In traditions where reincarnation is espoused, pain and suffering is often explained as the logical outcome of misdeeds done by the sufferer in past lives.

In atheist materialist tradition, physical reality is a mindless mechanism unaware of and unconcerned with the suffering of its creatures. Stephen Fry, noted British actor, writer, and outspoken atheist, recently said in an interview that in light of all the horrors that exist in this world (such as certain insects that can burrow into childrens’ eyes), a compassionate loving God could not possibly exist. The argument is simple and compelling: as God, the deity is presumably omnipotent and omnipresent; as a loving God, the deity is presumably concerned with the suffering of others. Logically, then, if God created insects that burrow into children’s eyes, God is either not loving, or It does not exist.

The visions I experienced in the fall of 2013 showed me unmistakably that a multiversal Consciousness (which many call “God”) does exist, and that Its nature is love and light. These visionary experiences I have since learned resemble those of many religious and non-religious individuals down through history and across all cultures. The symbols vary from person to person and culture to culture, but the gist is the same: that we are each of us known, accepted, and supported by a universal consciousness that is personal without being individual, and that is utterly familiar without being comprehensible. [For a compelling examination of mystical experience from the viewpoint of a nonmaterialist neuroscientist, see The Spiritual Brain by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary (New York: HarperOne, ISBN 978-0-06-162598-5, paperback $14.99), available through Amazon.com.]

My visions have given me hope that ultimately, whatever happens to my body, the core of me is eternally loved and safe. But my visions did not give me any theology with which to understand why life in physical reality involves so much suffering, or why “God” appears to do nothing about this.

The Kinds of Suffering

Not all my suffering arises from the same vectors or conditions. I’ve broken down the stuff that causes me the most pain into several categories, organized according to the forces and actions involved in the suffering I experience.

Suffering That Results Partially or Primarily from the Actions of Natural Forces: My severe juniper pollen allergy, worse this winter than ever before in living memory; my genetic predispositions towards osteoarthritis, depression, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes; the aches and pains that come from the natural aging of my body; my spinal damage due to a mild case of polio as a child in the Fifties; the physical distances between things and people; the deaths of loved ones from AIDS, alcoholism, and heart attack.

Suffering That Results Partially or Primarily from the Actions of Others: My ongoing PTSD, the result of my upbringing in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic pedophile mother, an angry chronically depressed father, and a sadistic, mentally ill older brother; the economic and sociopolitical forces operative nationally and in New Mexico that make access to employment and medical care difficult for low-income people like me; my struggle for self-acceptance as a gay man in a homophobic culture; Santa Fe’s socioeconomic stratification; the high cost of education; the suicide of my lover Stuart.

Suffering That Results Partially or Primarily from My Own Actions or Inactions: My years of resistance to acknowledging, and seeking help for, my incest background and eating disorder; my poverty, which partially results from my having made unwise education choices as a young man; my loneliness, the result of self-imposed social isolation; my perfectionism; my attempts at controlling a physical reality that is naturally in a constant state of change; my lifelong tendency to resist exercise;  my lifelong practice of eating foods that harm me; the harms I have done to others; the depression that comes from my insistence upon listening to radio news and reading newspaper accounts of the world’s pain; my resistance to acknowledging the good things in my life because I’m so pissed off by the bad things; my resistance to asking for help from God and others.

I recognize that I have not experienced horrors and brutalities that so many of the world’s peoples experience on a daily basis. Nonetheless, suffering is suffering. What kind of help can I expect the “God” of my visions to give me in dealing with the sufferings of everyday life? To what extent can the “God” of my visions directly affect or mitigate the hardships spacetime affords me? And how can I best access this help? We’ll look at this issue in the next blog.

Next: Accessing Divine Help In Spacetime.

 

 

 

 

 

Fear of Flying

If it is true that we come into physical reality to create new experiences for ourselves, how does one explain the fear that comes up when new opportunities for experience present themselves to us?

Why do I hesitate to cross new thresholds? Why do I balk at making changes? How do I explain—and overcome—my near pathological resistance to expansion?

Sometimes the reasons for my resistance to change seem obvious. I have known for a long time that part of me prefers to remain on the borderlands of life, half-hidden, half-invisible, lest standing in the full limelight expose me to others’ criticism, envy, or hostility. Part of me holds back from social interaction—parties, support groups, public events—for fear that the people I meet will reject me or, worse still, treat me with indifference.

And part of me resists exploring new territory out of fear that I will enjoy myself too much—fear that some God or other will punish me for having a good time while so many are suffering and in pain.

In my saner moments, I do not believe that God is like this; I do not believe that God resents my happiness. In my saner moments, I do not believe that enjoying my happiness, excitement, or wonder will cheat anybody of anything. In my saner moments, I know that when God opens a door for me, God will not punish me for walking through that door to see what experience awaits me on the other side.

Greater Self, help me to be sane today. Help me to understand in the deepest part of myself that wherever I go, there You are: You, Who know me intimately down to my smallest subatomic particle; You, who support me utterly without question; You who desire nothing from me because You are complete in Yourself; You, who are Love in all your parts. Exposed to the light of Your love, all fear dissolves, for I know that You will never abandon me, and that wherever I end up in my journey into expansion, You will be there waiting for me: familiar, wonderful, my oldest and dearest Friend.