General Discussion -  Suffering (284 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
 
From: MysticMonistSep-4 3:46 PM 
To: All  (1 of 7) 
 12946.1 

Srragland, you've mentioned the problem of suffering twice now and it's definitely one of the most difficult to answer. Why is there so much suffering if there is a loving and powerful God?

Ive struggled with this question especially once I left my atheistic Buddhist practice to study Judaism. Buddhism especially focuses on the phenomenon of suffering and shows it is all around us. Even the things that bring us joy and happiness are doomed to one day fade or can be twisted by events into instruments of even worse infliction of pain. I agree with you that simple answers like it's God's plan or it makes us stronger doesn't cut it.

I found one possible answer deep in my Kabbalah study. But like most things I only found buried deep in esoteric teachings, Bahá'u'llá states them rather openly and clearly.

First off, God doesn't exist to meet our wishes and wants for a comfortable and successful earthly life.

"The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his beloved. Nor shall the seeker reach his goal unless he sacrifice all things. That is, whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught, that he may enter the realm of the spirit, which is the City of God. Labor is needed, if we are to seek Him; ardor is needed, if we are to drink of the honey of reunion with Him; and if we taste of this cup, we shall cast away the world." The valley of seeking

Often the cause of suffering is due to limited perspective, we don't have the right focus.

"A lover feareth nothing and no harm can come nigh him: Thou seest him chill in the fire and dry in the sea. "

Maybe we aren't be greatful for things we already have and are only focusing on what we lack.

Ultimately, however there are sufferings so great and undeserved like illness and violence or great tragedy that requires more than a change of our perspective to address. In those cases, I think it's just faith. God loves us and doesn't want us to suffer but He is more concerned with our eternal journey than this short chapter. From His eternal perspective it will be made right, even the worst of tragedies and atrocities.

What do you think?

 
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From: srraglandSep-4 6:50 PM 
To: MysticMonist  (2 of 7) 
 12946.2 in reply to 12946.1 

I agree that some suffering is the result of not having the right focus or being grateful for what we do have.  However, “undeserved” suffering like illness, violence or great tragedy is suffering that cannot be avoided and requires more than a change of our perspective.  I think the crux of the matter is that this earthly life is simply a very small part of our eternal journey.  Knowing that can change our perspective but I do not think it eliminates all suffering.  I think what we need to realize is as you said, God doesn't exist to meet our wishes and wants for a comfortable and successful earthly life.  That is just what most people want so that is what they seek.  But are they truly happy just because they attain material happiness?  Indeed, if we look around and are influenced by the materialistic culture we can get confused and think that is where happiness comes from.  Transitory happiness can be attained by physical pleasures and material things, but if people are attached to these I do not think they are liable to think there might be something better.  The heart cannot be divided.

Abdu’l-Baha said that the material world is the cause of all suffering... By contrast, the spiritual world brings only joy.  It thus makes no sense to me pursue anything in the material world beyond what I need to live.  Here are some excerpts from that chapter on Pain and Sorrow:

“Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and our intelligence veiled. The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings.

There is no human being untouched by these two influences; but all the sorrow and the grief that exist come from the world of matter—the spiritual world bestows only the joy!

If we suffer it is the outcome of material things, and all the trials and troubles come from this world of illusion.......

Today, humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief, no one escapes; the world is wet with tears; but, thank God, the remedy is at our doors. Let us turn our hearts away from the world of matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom! If we are hemmed in by difficulties we have only to call upon God, and by His great Mercy we shall be helped.......

When our thoughts are filled with the bitterness of this world, let us turn our eyes to the sweetness of God’s compassion and He will send us heavenly calm! If we are imprisoned in the material world, our spirit can soar into the Heavens and we shall be free indeed!.......

You see all around you proofs of the inadequacy of material things—how joy, comfort, peace and consolation are not to be found in the transitory things of the world. Is it not then foolishness to refuse to seek these treasures where they may be found? The doors of the spiritual Kingdom are open to all, and without is absolute darkness.......

Thus, spirituality is the greatest of God’s gifts, and ‘Life Everlasting’ means ‘Turning to God’. May you, one and all, increase daily in spirituality, may you be strengthened in all goodness, may you be helped more and more by the Divine consolation, be made free by the Holy Spirit of God, and may the power of the Heavenly Kingdom live and work among you”  Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 109-112

Obviously we have to live in the material world, but it makes no sense to me to go out of my way to pursue the material world because I know that is not what God wants me to do, according to what Baha’u’llah wrote...

“Delight not yourselves in the things of the world and its vain ornaments, neither set your hopes on them. Let your reliance be on the remembrance of God, the Most Exalted, the Most Great. He will, erelong, bring to naught all the things ye possess. Let Him be your fear, and forget not His covenant with you, and be not of them that are shut out as by a veil from Him.”  Gleanings, pp. 127-128

“When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding attachments, it will unfailingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the City of Certitude.”  Gleanings, p. 268

“God is Our witness! Whoever hath tasted the sweetness of those words will never consent to transgress the bounds which God hath fixed, neither will he turn his gaze towards any one except his Well-Beloved. Such a man will, with his inner eye, readily recognize how altogether vain and fleeting are the things of this world, and will set his affections on things above.”  Gleanings, p. 298

“The world is but a show, vain and empty, a mere nothing, bearing the semblance of reality. Set not your affections upon it. Break not the bond that uniteth you with your Creator, and be not of those that have erred and strayed from His ways. Verily I say, the world is like the vapor in a desert, which the thirsty dreameth to be water and striveth after it with all his might, until when he cometh unto it, he findeth it to be mere illusion. It may, moreover, be likened unto the lifeless image of the beloved whom the lover hath sought and found, in the end, after long search and to his utmost regret, to be such as cannot “fatten nor appease his hunger.” Gleanings, pp. 328-329

  • Edited September 4, 2017 7:00 pm  by  srragland
 

 
From: MysticMonistSep-5 3:49 PM 
To: srragland  (3 of 7) 
 12946.3 in reply to 12946.2 

Thanks, for asking the question of suffering, you sure have a good answer.

I've been really struck by this part of the medium obligatory prayer.

"Exalted art Thou above my praise and the praise of anyone beside me, above my description and the description of all who are in heaven and all who are on earth!"

It is very humbling and has been refocusing my understanding away from philosophy or various opinions of man.

I have big news, I'm meeting with a local Baha'i group this weekend! I plan to declare being Baha'i after that :)

 

 
From: srraglandSep-5 4:33 PM 
To: MysticMonist  (4 of 7) 
 12946.4 in reply to 12946.3 

Thanks, for asking the question of suffering, you sure have a good answer.

The answer is that we have some answers in the Baha’i Writings but we will not fully understand until we die... I believe we will understand then.

I've been really struck by this part of the medium obligatory prayer.

"Exalted art Thou above my praise and the praise of anyone beside me, above my description and the description of all who are in heaven and all who are on earth!"

It is very humbling and has been refocusing my understanding away from philosophy or various opinions of man.

I think that is a good idea.  Philosophy and the opinions of man can be right or wrong and all they seem to do is cause more confusion.  I stay focused on the Writings of Baha’u’llah because they are the closest to the Will of God that we can get... It is a big enough job figuring out what those mean, let alone muddying up the waters with other opinions. ;-)

I have big news, I'm meeting with a local Baha'i group this weekend! I plan to declare being Baha'i after that :)

That’s very exciting news!   I am glad you have a Baha’i community in your area.

I will save the congratulations for later. ;-)

 

 
From: MysticMonistSep-6 10:48 AM 
To: srragland  (5 of 7) 
 12946.5 in reply to 12946.4 

I wrote this about philosophy and encountering the Writings. I thought you'd appreciate it.

http://bahaiforums.com/general-discussion/13261-reflecting-writings.html#post78213

 

 
From: srraglandSep-6 11:19 PM 
To: MysticMonist  (6 of 7) 
 12946.6 in reply to 12946.5 

Thanks.  I will go and take a look.

 

 
From: kc_harley DelphiPlus Member IconSep-7 9:27 AM 
To: MysticMonist  (7 of 7) 
 12946.7 in reply to 12946.1 
I've heard people ask in these times, "Where is God," wrong Question, "Where is Man!"
 

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