Question: Why do we have to pass through sad experiences such as suffering and sorrow?

Sri Chinmoy: Why do we experience suffering? In this world we are always consciously or unconsciously making mistakes. When we consciously make mistakes, we are quite aware of it. But unfortunately, we do not see the millions of things that we are doing wrong unconsciously. These unconscious mistakes manifest themselves in the physical world and the results come to us as suffering. In the case of ordinary unaspiring human beings, after tremendous suffering, sincerity dawns and the soul leads them to knowledge and wisdom. If people who repeatedly make mistakes have sincere aspiration and want to know why they are suffering, then the soul’s light comes to the fore and tells them. If we are spiritual people, consciously we will not do anything wrong, but unconsciously we do many things wrong. We can prevent unconscious mistakes only through our aspiration, prayer and meditation. If we aspire, then God’s Grace and Compassion protect us.

There is something else that we have to know about what we call suffering. Often we think of God, pray to God and meditate on God, and then we see that all sorts of problems arise in our life. Some disciples have said to me, “I was very happy until I entered the spiritual path. Now I am having more problems than before.” But if we are really sincere, we see that we did have the same difficulties before we accepted spirituality, but we were not aware of them before. Spirituality is the path of awareness and consciousness. Previously, many things were happening to us, but we were like a solid wall and were unaware of these things. But now, as seekers, we are affected whenever a good or bad thought enters into our mind. If it is a divine thought we are happy. If it is a wrong thought we are frustrated and disappointed. This is the result of our spiritual awareness. If we are sincere with ourselves, we come to realise that we have always had the same difficulties, the same sufferings, but previously we were not conscious of them.

Again, we have to know that when we enter the spiritual life, the hostile forces attack us. Before, when we lived in ignorance and were a slave to ignorance, ignorance let us sleep. As long as it had us under its control, as long as we were wallowing inside it, it did not disturb us. But when we try to escape from ignorance, at that time ignorance tries to hold us down. So sometimes the seeker will find that he is having some difficulties at the beginning of his spiritual journey that he did not have before, but as he progresses, these difficulties fall away.

God does not want suffering for human beings. He is the Father of Love. When we go to our Father, we don’t have to cut our arms or our throat. We will go with all our love because He is waiting for us with His Love. If we say that we have to suffer in order to go to our Father, that is stupidity. God, our Father, does not want our suffering.

But when suffering does come, we have to feel that even in this suffering there is a divine intention. If we really aspire, suffering itself will give us a real experience which will make us feel that we are nearer to our goal. But we should never find fault with God because of our suffering. It is we who have invited suffering through our conscious or unconscious mistakes. When suffering comes to us, we have to pray to God to free us from this suffering. We have to know that suffering is not our goal; the goal is Delight. When we have penetrated into the suffering, when we have gone beyond the suffering, we see that it becomes Delight. And then we can remain in the Delight which is inside the suffering.

From:Sri Chinmoy,Beyond Within — A collection of writings 1964-1974, Agni Press, 1975
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