To ask why God allows suffering, is to imply that God (or the Higher Power) either does, or does not care about us. That the Higher Power is either compassionate or indifferent toward us and our lives.
So why does God allow suffering? The answer I will share with you, is from a somewhat different perspective, based on the Eastern philosophies. Chapters three and four of the Bhagavad Gita talk about what makes for a life of happiness and suffering.
The Higher Power offers us the freedom and opportunity to choose how we view and react to all aspects of our life. That includes suffering. It is indeed not the Higher Power that causes our suffering, but ourselves.
Our lives are directly connected to our Karma. What we do, who we are and how we feel is the result of our past action. We all live the exact life that we are supposed to live. This does not mean that we get to sit back or give up.
Actually, it’s just the opposite. This life is the opportunity to grow, develop and improve ourselves. Think of it as the Karmic bank account. You can either deposit, or with draw from it. The choice is yours, but so are the consequences.
We now have a decision to make. Do we accept ourselves and our lives for what they are, or do we engage in desires solely based on our greed and discontent? Buddha said “desire leads to suffering”. It is a simple truth that is widely ignored in our society.
We are consumers. We are raised on television ads that teach us that happiness comes from shopping for more things. Yes, we get a temporary satisfaction as we leave the store. Sadly this happiness quickly dissipates as we search for ever bigger, faster and better stuff.
The examples of this are many. We may want a better paying job, just to get disappointed by how dull it makes us feel. We may want a better relationship, just to realize that it doesn’t satisfy us just like the one before. These desires are just an illusion.
Want vs. Can
These unfulfilled desires are what’s causing our suffering. To put it in simple terms, what we “want” and what “can” does not match. What we want, are all of our desires. What we can, is our capacity to achieve them.
Let’s say that you “want” to get a new fancy car. Now, you must decide if you “can” actually afford the car you want. After assessing your finances you realize that the car is out of your price range. This is the reality of the situation.
Now, you have a choice to make. You can get a loan at a bank to finance this car (and deal with the payments), or you can become content that this purchase will not happen. Instead, perhaps you can get a cheaper car, or fix the one you already have.
The above is a simple example of the point I’m trying to make. The important part is that you must be content with your decision. Your “want” and “can” must match. That is the answer! Once you match your “want” with your “can”, you will become content.
On the other hand, If your “can” and your “want” do not match, you are guaranteed to suffer. This applies to every single facet of your life. If you want to stop the suffering, you must match your abilities to getting what you want. It’s not the Higher Power that allows you to suffer, it is you.
We are given this life to learn about ourselves. So much of it depends on our perception of who we are. Lift the veil of illusion, and embrace yourself. Work with what you already have to achieve the life you want. All the answers are already within you.
Big thanks to my friends on Google+ who have contributed to this post with their own answers, including: “From a Buddhist perspective, suffering is the result of karma”, and “So that we know who actually cares about us”.
Live well. Vlad