The path to God-realization, the search for God, or the search for more meaning in life, does not have to begin with suffering, but suffering is a wake-up call for many and a common human experience. Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor said, “Suffering is not necessary to find meaning, only that meaning is possible in spite of suffering.”
Whether we recognize it or not our experience of separateness is often a profound cause of suffering. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Maharaj Charan Singh says:
It is very clear that since our separation from the source, we have not been happy in this world. Even in the human form, which is known as the top of creation, if you analyze, you will not find anybody happy in this world.… We will find peace only when the soul merges back into the Lord.… If we could be truly happy in this world nobody would ever think about the Lord.…
The soul is suffering because it is separated from its origin, the Lord. The mind suffers because it is separated from the second stage, Trikuti, universal mind, and has become a slave of the senses. The body suffers because it’s five elements are separate form earth, water, air, fire and ether.… When the soul merges back into the divine melody within – the Lord – the suffering of the soul finishes.
War, famine and strife have existed since the beginning of time. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, that:
Some are suffering from diseases, some due to lack of children, some due to too many children, still others due to the lack of security in life; some are frustrated in their love affairs and some in their domestic life.…The whole world is suffering in one way or another. … And what more suffering can there be than when the soul is separated from its source?
The world was not meant to be perfect. It is meant to be a training ground for the soul. We come here due to our combination of good and bad karmas. When we learn the lessons we need, we begin to rise above it all. As someone said, we can’t take the thorns out of the world, but perhaps we can put on gloves to handle the thorns.
Victor Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning continues:
We who lived in the concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.
It is important to note that the teachings do not shun happiness and prosperity. Rather we are told to enjoy these things while we have them, but not identify ourselves with them, attach ourselves to them, or derive our happiness from them. We are told that if we want to escape suffering, there is only one way, and that is to go back to the Father. We are told to stay connected to this higher source of contentment at all times. Suffering is a result of losing our balance and focus, yet it can play such an important role in spiritual development..