The Spiritual Importance of Suffering
The Role of Suffering in One’s Spiritual Journey
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
Regardless of how disheartening the state of the world might seem to be, and despite how hopeless you might feel, once you find your own truth, your life will change in ways you could have only dreamt of before.
So if you are one of the millions of people who are struggling with everyday life, if your life seems devoid of hope and purpose, I know it might seem like giving up is the only option left, but please hang on. I was there for quite some time too. And if I’ve managed to pull myself out of the darkness, anyone can do it, including you.
It is the most evolved souls, and the ones closest to awakening, that often suffer the most. This is because in order to discover the wonder you must first wander.
“To discover the wonder you must first wander.’’
Despite its brutal nature, suffering is perhaps the most important emotional guide to spiritual enlightenment. All awakened souls have endured large amounts of it to eventually lose their false sense of self and discover their real self; the selfless self.
Suffering makes us question the notion of a higher level of consciousness because it forces us to search for answers. In an effort to find an escape for our torment, we open up to the idea that there must be more to life than what we have been conditioned to believe. This is why understanding suffering is key in freeing oneself from the trappings of the mind. Mental liberation lies in finding the source of your suffering, facing its truth and then letting it all go, in order to release yourself from its burden.
The Hidden Consciousness
The average person, in today’s world, lives their entire lives thinking that existence is based entirely on a physical and mental level of consciousness when nothing could be further from the truth. This misunderstanding is perhaps the most significant reason why so many people are suffering.
While our mental and physical levels of consciousness are vital, the most important level is our spiritual one. It is this consciousness that will set you free from suffering and the prison of your mind.
“If we do not turn inwards and train our mind, but instead expend all our energy on arranging and rearranging the external aspects of our existence, then our suffering will continue.’’ Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
Yet, somehow, despite the importance of spiritual consciousness, a large segment of the world’s population is not convinced that it is even a real thing. This is because of the lies perpetuated by society and your own ego. Its lies inhibit you from experiencing it by keeping your own truth hidden from you.
For the vast majority of my life, I too was convinced that my mental being was the most superior aspect of my existence. This is why my own mind became my worst enemy because I assumed the solution to my suffering lied somewhere within my thoughts. Little did I know then that they lied in my soul.
“Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection.” Amit Ray
Based on limited understanding, people might think that spirituality is some superficial existence that requires you to practice things like yoga or join a religious institution. And while, yes, that might work for you, and the answer can be found in those places, I believe many aspects of modern spirituality are misunderstood. Many of these misunderstandings come as a result of commercialization.
First of all, far too many people claiming to be spiritual guides are using spirituality as a means to attain wealth and fame. While a guide is supposed to be a master of his/her ego, so many of these self-professed gurus are controlled by their egos. Having the wrong person guide your spiritual journey can have damaging consequences. I urge you be very careful with who you trust to develop your spiritual well-being. Do not ever let anyone believe that they are more crucial to your own spiritual development than you yourself are. Others may guide you along, but ultimately it is you who must discover your true path with the guidance of Spirit.
Secondly, there is a belief that the journey to enlightenment is a competition. Do not look at someone else’s journey and compare it to yours. No two spiritual paths are exactly alike. Attempting to outdo any other person spiritually is anything but spiritual in nature. It is a desire that could only be motivated by one’s ego. Instead of competing, why not help each other’s journey instead?
Another common misconception is the belief that spirituality is something to simply stay in touch with, in order to maintain a sense of balance. To say that is understating spirituality’s importance. Every aspect of your life, both physical and mental, is part of your spiritual being. Without your spiritual self, those other two levels of consciousness simply cannot exist. So spirituality is not part of life, it is the very meaning of life itself.
That is why the pyramid is such an iconic representation of existence. The top of the pyramid represents spiritual consciousness, while the bases represent mental and physical consciousness — Body, Mind and Spirit. The core of the pyramid represents your lives. So spirituality is a journey of using your lives, via body and mind, to ascend to the top of the pyramid to discover Spirit.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
The Voice of Ego
This realization of the importance of spirituality is what will lead you to your truth. There is no way you can find true happiness as long as you are a slave to your body and mind, and, most crucially of all, to your ego.
Ego is the voice of doubt. The voice that urges you to place yourself over others. The voice that encourages you to seek power at all costs.
Every problem you face, every problem facing society and the world — war, corruption, violence, unhappiness, discontent, agony — is a problem of consciousness and ego. The manner in which you balance the two will determine the fate of your entire life.
Ignore the voice of ego.
The Voice of Spirit
Spirituality has a lot more to do with unlearning than learning. It is to remove the lies of noise to reveal the truth of silence.
You have to unlearn all the untruths from your childhood, your adolescence and your adulthood. This is extremely difficult and your ego will make your mind question itself, but stay true to what you know to be true.
Follow the voice of Spirit.
Spirit is the voice of love. The one that says you should help others. The voice that brings out your gift of empathy.
Continuing in our self-absorbed ignorance, we, as humans, still think that we are developing. Yes, we may be doing so technologically, but we certainly haven’t made any progress in elevating ourselves as a sum consciousness. We are actually going in the opposite direction. We are becoming more egotistical, and that is why there is such chaos everywhere.
Society’s best friend is the ego, but the ego is spirituality’s only enemy.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Kahlil Gibran
The way you view yourself is how you will view the world, and, in turn, how you view your life determines the fate of your very life.
If you live a life of high consciousness, one unburdened by ego, you will see that everything around you is actually not conspiring against you, but working in harmony to offer you this very breath.
So ultimately you have a choice. Following the desires of your ego will only ever result in suffering. However, discovering true happiness lies in following the voice of Spirit.
Suffering is, by no means, an easy fix. It is a long, trying path, but ultimately if you seek truth and love, I assure you the path will end in happiness.
Thanks for joining me again. In my next post, I will examine the unity of life.