Again and again, people ask me, “Why is there suffering? How can I avoid suffering?” My answer is, “You cannot.”

If anything has to happen, it will happen. Think, All right, let it happen. I am bold. What’s the use of being afraid of it? I’m not going to be able to stop anything that is meant to happen. That really takes a lot of faith. If you have that kind of faith, you don’t have to be afraid of anything. That doesn’t mean that you should not be careful. Be careful, but don’t be afraid.

Then you might ask, how can I get that kind of faith? Know that such faith does not come that easily. We acquire faith only through suffering. Only then do you realize that nothing in this world is going to bring you eternal happiness and peace. You will say, “I tried this and that; I ran here and there, but I ran into troubles everywhere.” When we really understand the world and its nature, we get sick and tired of running after external happiness and only then we turn to something more, something higher. Then our faith becomes really strong.

Mother Nature itself is a factory. We are all being rubbed and scrubbed and chiseled and cut and filed until we are fit for the showroom. Like a piece of marble that becomes a beautiful statue that is put on the altar and worshiped. Life is like that. So if we understand this well, we will accept all the adversities and sufferings.

Knowing the purpose and the meaning of suffering itself is an answer to suffering. Once you know the suffering is not to punish us, but to make us grow, we won’t be so  worried about it. We won’t be suffering for that. You will accept it and go through it. Faith will always be tested by the sufferings. We can say, “Oh, we are all faithful.” But if you don’t get an A or A+ on your exam, forget it. If your business is losing money, forget faith. That is conditional faith. We need unconditional faith.

When suffering comes from the nature itself, that teaches us. These kind of situations help us learn to live as a global family. We remember that this is our spiritual home and we are all the children of one global family. With that understanding, we will collectively take care of each other, and the world. Even if one individual is unhappy, everybody will take care of that person and see that he or she becomes happy again.

If we could live that way, certainly we would have a heaven here. That is exactly what yogic life means. Living a collective life and rising above selfishness. Sharing the joy of everyone, and the pain of everyone. Let us learn that first. To love and give, care and share. Then, we will really see a beautiful heaven on this earth.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda