Where there is perfection and unity, there can be no suffering. The capacity to suffer arises where there is imperfection, disunity and separation from an embracing totality. . . . For the individual who achieves unity within his own organism and union with the divine Ground, there is an end of suffering. The goal of creation is the return of all sentient beings out of separateness and that infatuating urge-to-separateness which results in suffering, through unitive knowledge into the wholeness of eternal Reality.
Joseph Campbell said, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of life,” recognizing that life contains hardship and an individual should embrace the experience of being alive by living affirmatively in the face of inevitable sorrow and suffering. Buddhist teaching calls for "joyful participation in the sorrows of the world."
(Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy. New York: Harper and Row, 1944. p. 227)
“If there were a God, he wouldn’t allow all the suffering in the world,” I’ve often heard people say. Well, actually, God doesn’t want suffering, and didn’t create a world with suffering in it. Man created suffering.
Let’s take a look at what suffering is. Pain is suffering, of course, and if your leg is crushed under a boulder, you are going to have intense pain. But that’s not the suffering people talk about when they refer to “suffering humanity.” All the suffering other than pain is created by man.
We’re separated from loved ones by death. But the fear of death and the belief that death is the end of existence are entirely manmade. If a person knows the truth that life is eternal and our loved one has just gone on a journey—we’ll come there to join them soon—then we will be sad at the separation for a while, but not weeping and wailing as though the person were dead for eternity. That grief is manmade. It’s made by ignorance about our eternal nature and understanding of the afterlife.
We may live in poverty. But living in poverty doesn’t affect the spirit. It has no effect on the inner person, on our love for one another and desire to see each other blissful. We can be happy without reservation even if we haven’t two dimes to rub together. People are despondent over poverty because they want material things. They create monstrous mortgages and have to work long hours to pay for them out of a desire for material things. They could be blissful every moment with just enough to provide for their family’s needs. And if society were such that we had love for one another, others in society would see to our needs if we needed something. It would be out of love, not an expectation of return.
Our health may fail and we may be terminally ill. But death is simply a doorway to the next stage of our eternal lives. On the other side are reunions, physical health, psychological wellbeing, no deceit, and conditions that are the way we want, based on our psychological and spiritual makeup. Those who have crossed over say they have no wish to come back to the Earth plane. They are overjoyed to be there.
We suffer because we’re sued for a mistake or have conflicts with our children or get fired from our job. These are all things men do to men. They have nothing to do with God or the universe. In the kingdom of God that Yeshua envisioned, there will be no conflict. There will be no lawyers because there will be no disputes. I’ll be so anxiously trying to take care of your needs and you’ll be so anxious to take care of mine that there’ll be no room for disputes.
We have created a society that is violent, cruel, and cold. But we have created it. True, we’ve created it as the children we were reared to be by another society just like it that preceded ours. But we perpetuate it by not breaking out of prison, and we give it to our children who will give it to their children. Society is cruel because we’re cruel. “We must become what we want the world to be,” Gandhi said. If we are to live in a world of love, we must be loving. If we want peace, we must be peaceful. If we don’t want to be judged, we must not judge. If we want to be forgiven, we must forgive.
Except for physical pain and the sadness we feel when we are separated from our loved ones by death, all of our frustrations, grief, and alienation, and suffering result from the reality we create for ourselves in the world, and from the society that we have created because we remain prisoners to our childhoods. The question isn’t “Why doesn’t God alleviate the suffering in the world?” The question is, “Why don’t we alleviate the suffering we inflict on ourselves and others.”