Sri Chinmoy: From the highest spiritual point of view, suffering is not at all necessary for self-purification. But here on earth some people are very clever. They feel that when they suffer, only then does God come into their mind. Otherwise, they never think of God; He is a forgotten story, an unnecessary story.
In the Mahabharata, Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, was very clever. She used to pray to Lord Krishna that she always be kept in suffering so that she would always think of him. She felt that if she were happy, there would be no necessity on her part to think of him or meditate on him. Most human beings do not pray to God to give them suffering so that they can think of Him and make progress. But they actually pray and meditate only when they are caught and compelled to swim in the sea of suffering.
But suffering is not at all necessary. From joy, more joy, abundant joy, eternal Joy and infinite Joy we make progress. But if suffering comes to us, we have to accept it as something that has to be conquered or has to be transformed into joy. We have to act like a hero-warrior who has to accept and conquer all obstacles and transform all bondages into freedom. Ordinary people will never learn anything unless they go through suffering. Suffering has its own value in their case. For people in the lowest plane of consciousness it is necessary. But as we evolve spiritually we feel that suffering is something unnecessary. We can easily do without it. If it comes, of course, we shall try to transform it with our inner light so that it can eventually be an added strength. But we shall not invoke it.
We try to conquer darkness. Why? If we conquer darkness, then it becomes our good friend, light. But when darkness conquers us, at that time darkness tries to lord it over us. When there is a fight between light and darkness, darkness will try to conquer light with a view to dominating it. But light tries to conquer darkness with a different intention. It wants to conquer darkness so that it can transform darkness. When darkness becomes like light, it will be a perfect instrument for the Supreme to use. We have to conquer suffering and transform it into joy so that it can be added to our already existing joy. And this joy is what we need for self-purification and for God-manifestation on earth.