Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why there is suffering around if there is God

Since the day I started apprehending the world around with my young enthusiastic eyes, I have been constantly witnessing the suffering around, I was not able to eschew myself with the thought that Why does people suffer?

Once staring outside my window, “the reflections from my mind engulfed my thought process, when I was barely seven years old, I was playing in the ground with my friends when I suddenly fell down in the thud and I started yelling and wailing. The sweet voice of my mother fell into my ears and she hurriedly came to me with the medicine in her hand. She, while applying Dettol was reciting, “Wahe Guru Sat Nam,’’ these words were like a magic for me and out came the smile from my face.

My young mind could not understand an Iota of why and how these words helped me soothed my pains-It was a magic that my Mama knew to bring smile on my face. But now at the age where I am immersed in the materialistic pursuits of worldly pleasures, I could not find Guru Bani’s had any relevance in today’s world. Yet, in situations of isolation and emotional vacuity, I feel there should be someone I should rely upon but again when I come out of the situation, sufferings of people shook me off from my inner faith, and the same question tortures my Mind, “If there is God, why there is suffering?

And, one day I took up the courage and asked my Grand Pa and Grand Ma the same question but what I got was a very hop notch answer, they just said, “ Eh Kalyug hei, Is duniya wich Pap Bahut Vad Gaya Hei’, But as I have been reading History with interest I fully knew crime is not a new phenomenon. It is affecting human beings like a virus since the day first human made his appearance on earth and then again the question arises, if that was not the age of Kalyug then there was God, and, is there is not God now! and if there was God at that time then why there was suffering?

Someone known to me even shook my nerves by revealing that we forget God when we have good times and only remember him when any untoward incident befalls on us, that is the reason why God gives us Suffering so that we remember him from the heart of our hearts and, in that moment of remembering him we get solace and immense feeling of satisfaction and bliss, but this was also not something that could get into my mind -Is God selfish that God gives us suffering and suffering to child so that we could remember him?

Now after a two to three prolonged years of my thought process I took upon the task to talk to scholars, and read some books, the revelation that I got of suffering and what Gurbani says about suffering removed all doubts of God and its existence from my brains and made me proud of my being Sikh. And this I feel from my heart to heart to share my feelings with the readers.

Since the child starts breathing in the mother’s womb his suffering starts. Suffering and happiness are the ornaments of the human beings that they must adorn. To be human is to suffer and that is the essence of existential suffering, which is in it self inescapable. Both Raja(King) and Rank(poor) have to bear his or her share of suffering.

In one of the books Heidegger wrote about the uncaused suffering and Kierkegaard reflects that, “Earthly existence is a mysterious blend of anguish and lovely dreams, of creation and despair” and both are synonymous with existence itself and Professor Talib connotes by using the phrase “metaphysical suffering of sheer existence’ to describe the suffering inflicted in man who is born in pain and in pain he shall die.”

Buddhism did not make suffering as an inalienable feature of human existence and one of its four truths are made out to be “nirodhasatya” (the cessation of suffering), dukhasatya (the truth of human misery not being the sole or absolute truth and “Nirvana being the end of suffering, the extinction of desire, the destruction of greed, hate, delusion, and of the constituent factors (skandhas) and the volitional forces (samskaras).

In Sikhi the poet philosophers of Guru Granth Sahib- a holy scripture and, Scholars and philosophers of Sikh faith repeatedly stress the suffering and happiness as twin facts of human life, not for highlighting them but to make to us have a revelation of suffering and to conquer them.

Suffering in all its dimensions is clearly depicted in Gurbani, which includes Bhakta Bani as well. “Kind of suffering that results from separation, another kind caused by hunger, and third type results from the unfailing advent of the messenger of death. Both the emotive and physical aspects of suffering have received attention of the poet philosophers of the Guru Granth.

In Sikhi, suffering is made a blissful thing to cherish and take the positive outlook of life in one’s esteem and made a remedy as a malady. And, how Sukh is a root of evil and suffering welcomed its answer lies with Kierkgaard when he said:

“The suffering which restores man to awareness of sin is also a means to reconciliation, only, however, if one dutifully accepts the suffering and turns it to good purpose.”

Suffering is not at all purpose a misfortune or curse. The thorn in the flesh may be a blessing if it helps one to turn it into a spiritual medicine. That is the creative approach to dukh. Granted that suffering is a fundamental factor in the human situation, it is innate to man, yet the self afflicted suffering undergone for spiritual purification belongs to another category. Similarly when man undergoes sorrow that lies in alienation from God, it’s not in mundane or profane level that he suffers. His suffering may be productive of moral and spiritual good; as “Jesus suffered in the cause of God, and through his suffering was said to redeem mankind, from sin and spiritual suffering.”

The inscrutable mystery by which the Divine apportion dukh and sukh to his creatures, finds eloquent expression in Guru Nanak’s Japuji:

Countless stand condemned
To pain and miseries ever :
Such blessing in disguise
the Bounteous One may shower.

Here, even the torments are treated as the Lord’s gifts. Karl Jaspers’ paradox lends support to the view of man taking the ‘risk’ of being happy: “When a man is unhappy, being himself will be easier than when he is happy.” Man is made aware of himself by his suffering-that seems to be the moral. And the pangs of separation suffered by the soul are not extolled by Sheik Farid without reason:

The pain of birha is belittled
But, birha, thou art sovereign !
A body that never tasteth pangs :
Treat it like a dead ground.

Thus, the suffering is a blessing in disguise, it reveals us our hidden potentials to come out bravely and to face the adversities towards the spirituality and success.

1 Sikhism Philosophy and Culture by Wazir Singh

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