why does god allow suffering?

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.

Karma

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.

Desires

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 Answer

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.

In Conclusion

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

4 Responses to why does god allow suffering?

  1. Patri February 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Well, I believe that God/Higher Power cannot choose to regarding suffering or anything else for that matter. The moment there is choice, there is judgement and the realm of the Absolute is Perfect, (there’s no judgement, which belongs to the realm of Perception which is Ego based).

    Also, the moment there is a choice, something/someone else has been “not chosen”. God simply cannot do that for obvious reasons.

    There is one third, very important issue. As human beings we can only deal with what our awareness is “aware” of. Denial can actually mean “to not be aware of”, so we might suffer from certain defects we don’t even notice we have; personality traits that make us feel pain. Now, if we are willing, awareness has a great attribute on offer, and that is to open and grow like a never-ending blossoming flower. Every time awareness tells us of something we’ve spotted in ourselves, we can proceed to the healing process. God cannot remove any suffering we’re not aware of – we need to spot it first. That is part of the “free-will” deal.

    Add Karma to all of this and you get a potent cocktail you can’t escape from and with which, as you can clearly see, God doesn’t really interfere. : )

    • Vlad February 10, 2012 at 3:08 am #

      Hi Patri,

      Thank you very much for visiting my blog and for your excellent addition to the post. You brought up great points that really expanded on the subject.

      I very much enjoy reading the material you publish on your site. It’s a source of inspiration to many people including myself.

      Best to you! Vlad

  2. Noch Noch | be me. be natural. February 10, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    i used to ask that question a lot too. esp as I have a christian upbringing. i’m still working on my spirituality to see what i actually believe in. who knows. it’s too deep a question for me, but i think perhaps there is a lesson in the “suffering” we have to learn. And we cant learn it except through the suffering. or perhaps God has given us ample chances to learn and yet we stubbornly refuse to, or don’t notice the opportunity to learn and commit the same mistakes, and God decided to give us one big blow to get our attention….?

    Noch Noch

    • Vlad February 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

      Hi Noch,
      I agree with the point you make, and to parafrase the Buddhist quote: “suffering leads to enlightenment”. I’m not sure if there are any people who live totally care-free lives, but I haven’t met any yet. :-)

      I see this life as a learning process where the lessons are experienced and (hopefully) understood. These experiences of even painful events lead us to the understanding of the higher truth. Hopefully, we can apply this understanding to simplify our existence in this lifetime and… beyond!

      Take care! Vlad