Why Is There Suffering in this World?


Why is there so much suffering in this world? For ages people have suffered, river of blood has spilled through out the ages. Also in animal kingdom, animals eat other animals even when they are alive and conscious.Armies torture Armies of enemy nation.Why has god made so much violence and pain inescapable at the moment of suffering.Why is there so much injustice for ages in the World. I am not able to see people suffer in pain.This model system of God plunders my heart.

—Shefali, India



Down through the ages thoughtful humans have continuously asked your question: “Why is there so much suffering?”

God certainly created the universe and the world of duality (opposites like good and evil) but we humans (and other life) participate in the drama willingly, indeed, eagerly. Eagerly do many go to war; inflict pain on others; express greed and exploitation. In this respect, at least, we don’t need God to be the cause: we do it willingly each time we gossip or respond with negativity.

I will tell you right up front that there is no ANSWER to your question that can satisfy the intellect or the heart so long as our point of view is that of the ego: separated from the Oneness and Infinity which is God and which is the true bliss from which all created things emerge.

Great saints and including our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, testify that “you will know when you will know” and you will be satisfied that the greatest show on earth was worth all of the suffering. Truth is this: it is only by suffering that we learn and yearn to transcend egoity and to find the Oneness and joy of God. Suffering has its purpose, in other words.

Furthermore, unless there were the opposites of good and evil this universe would not be sustainable. What great epic story would be worth reading or enacting if it were nothing but pleasantness. The drama keeps the show going.

This drama is a dream of God and though to us it is a nightmare (sometimes, but surely not always!), it is because we think it is real. So long as we do think we are separate and the drama is real we must deal with it responsibly for our sake and that of others to whom we have a dharma and karma!

Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita: “O Arjuna, get away from my ocean of suffering and misery!” Still the natural turbulence of the mind and senses and let the light of wisdom and divine love appear within you as your polestar to inner freedom.

The more practical question is this: “What do I do about it?” Asking “why” is necessary but there’s no satisfactory answer until you achieve Self-realization wherein the answer is self-evident. Until we achieve soul freedom, we must do our part to make the world a better place and give compassion and relief to others as our circumstances permit.

Our dismay over the fact of suffering derives partly from our attachment to this world, to our bodies, to comfort and pleasure and security, and to the fear of suffering. Buddha sought the answer to your question and what he found was not a solution for all humanity and life but for his own soul and those who would make the effort to go within and find freedom from suffering. We cannot solve the world’s problems on their level. Suffering is necessary for individual souls to have the motivation to change and grow. It is also necessary to keep the world going. It functions therefore both personally and cosmically.

Be of good cheer! Joy is within you! How can you help others if you are miserable and sad? God is joy; God is life. Life persists in the midst of evil and suffering because life is the central truth and suffering is only peripheral.

“Be, therefore, the change you seek to see in the world!” Find joy within; radiate joy without. Be without attachment to this world; to your body and ego. Attune yourself to the great masters who come to uplift us. There is an answer but we must be worthy and make the herculean effort to find the “pearl of great price!”

Blessings to you on your journey to Self-realization!

Nayaswami Hriman

Seattle WA