What is the third answer to why we suffer?

Deepak Chopra
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
The third answer -- suffering contains a hidden spiritual message -- is very different from the other two. It says that out of suffering can come love. Love is the hidden message within all fear and pain, no matter how horrible they make you feel. The idea that suffering contains a spiritual message goes beyond fatalism and idealism both, because the distinction between inner and outer, physical and mental is erased. Instead, we are seen as pure spirit, which has chosen to walk on the stage of the natural world in order to play out soul dramas. Sometimes the drama is happy and joyful; sometimes the drama is painful and full of sorrow. Spirit is above any drama. It is the sweet, unheard music of life itself. During the World Trade Center and Pentagon catastrophes on September 11, 2001, I believe a silent voice was reaching through the pain to say, "You feel hurt and afraid, but you are not your feelings. You experience tragedy, but you remain untouched by it. You see the face of death, but behind that mask there is eternal love." This voice arises from the third answer, that suffering contains a hidden spiritual message; that message is always love. Terrorists don't care about themselves, and they are convinced they can do anything because they burn with hatred. If you didn't care about yourself yet burned with love instead, you could help save the world.

There are many ways to relieve pain, but I believe that only spirituality can heal suffering. To hope for an end to suffering is idealistic, and even though Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, and other great spiritual teachers have offered a vision where suffering ends, it is also true that suffering ennobles people, teaches us lessons, guides us toward insight, and purifies our nature. Suffering is a paradox.

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