Does God Help Reduce Our Suffering?


Does God minimize some section of agony of the suffering living being both human and animals? I know Yoganandaji did have discussions with God to remove it. And will suffering at some stage end?

—Niraj, India


Dear Niraj,

Yogananda-ji said he would sometimes argue with Divine Mother saying, in effect: “You (Mother) have created this illusion that tricks us into thinking it is real (and as a result, we suffer), you must free us!” But as Swami Kriyananda (founder of Ananda’s communities worldwide and a direct disciple of Yogananda) puts it: “Most people wouldn’t have it (life) any other way.”

While it is true no one wants to suffer, it is also true that most human beings are driven by material desires: pleasure, security, position, influence and so on. You can’t have “your cake and eat it too.” One who seeks pleasure and comfort will inevitably experience pain and discomfort. This is the law of life.

Suffering is the consequence of our fears and desires: our past karma (actions). But suffering has a good purpose because when we suffer, we begin to want to find an escape from suffering. If we never suffered we would never seek to know the solution to suffering which is to “find God.” God is the source of all life and is beyond pleasure and pain. So, too, therefore is our soul, made in the image of God. So God uses suffering to help us wake up. God does not purposefully punish us. We punish ourselves by greed, by hurting others, etc. etc.

Suffering will always be a part of life because this creation, this maya (illusion), requires the play of opposites (pleasure and pain; male and female; hot and cold; etc.) in order to seem real. So long as anyone wants the dream of life to be only a certain way, the maya will seem real.

There is only God: God alone. But by the action of movement from opposite directions, the spinning wheel of maya appears solid. But to that soul who has awakened in God-consciousness, the ups and downs of life in human form will cease to touch him. It’s not that pain never goes away; rather, it is that our identification with pain begins to dissolve. Just like a strong man can get an accidental cut and not even notice but a weak person gets a scratch and cries out in pain, so also the soul who knows God can transcend the maya of the human incarnation while most others oscillate helplessly between states of pleasure and pain.

To the devotee, whose mind and heart is increasingly identified with the Lord, there comes an aura of protection. One who might have the karma to lose an arm in an accident might only receive a scratch. The closer we live to God consciousness, transcendent of the gunas (the play of opposites), the less maya can touch us. So, yes, in this sense, Divine Mother provides protection. But keep in mind, it starts with US! WE have to seek God and not merely for protection but the love of God. Our hearts must be pure: not afraid, not grasping in fear. Thus one can say God relieves us of suffering or we can say we reach up by self-effort to do so. God alone is the Doer. The difference, ultimately, is an illusion.

Live for God alone and let your salvation, your protection, your karma be in Divine Mother’s hands. Be a child of the Infinite Power. With God, life can be a play of divine love. Without God, it is a nightmare. As Krishna exhorts us in the Gita: “Be thou, O Arjuna, a yogi!” Meditate, pray, serve God with devotion and with joy, for God IS joy.

Blessings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA