Yogananda’s Thoughts on Suffering and Karma


Namaste. I believe PYji has said many things related to suffering & happiness, including: 1) Suffering is (solely) a result of man's transgressions of God's laws (or Will), 2) Man should recognize & embrace one's God-given role, whether that of a king or servant, whether that of happiness or sorrow. The latter implies that suffering can also be due simply to God having assigned it as part of a role for certain people, or perhaps more generally to all unrealized humans via the power of maya?

—John C, USA


It’s true that we each have a “role” to play in life, and that there may be a divine hand or director writing the script — but any “role” that we play is a direct result of our own actions in past lifetimes, and the karma that we have to work out. Karma and suffering are not just assigned randomly by God, but by our own past actions.

It’s also important to understand that the point of karma isn’t to make us suffer, but to help us learn important lessons. When we learn the lesson, the karma either ends, or no longer has the power to make us “suffer”.

When Paramhansa Yogananda was asked “what is the best way to work out karma?”, he replied:

“Karma is best worked out by meeting life’s tests cheerfully and courageously. If you still fear something, that karma has not yet been worked out. To dissipate it, don’t try to avoid the tests you have to face. Rise above them bravely, by dwelling in God’s joy within.”

When we have that inner freedom, then we no longer suffer, even when we must face difficult challenges. At that point we can see that we really are simply playing a role. Just like an actor playing a role doesn’t actually suffer, we no longer suffer when we play a difficult role, because our identity is with God and not with this little actor playing the role.