Virtually every day, I’m asked some form of this question:
“Why do bad things happen?”
From a hard-working pro golfer failing to earn his or her tour card by a single stroke, to a horrific and deeply tragic event like what just took place in Las Vegas, why must innocent people suffer?
The answer is: We don’t have all the answers. But what I can tell you is this:
In the heat of the moment, or in the midst of suffering, nothing will make sense. Yet, from distance (if gained), we’ll find perspective.
Now, I surely don’t make this statement to make light of suffering, or to say that wounds don’t run deep. I make it to remind you that suffering is purely a figment of thought and one’s ensuing state of consciousness at that moment in time. When, for example, my thinking takes me back to childhood trauma, I suffer massively. When I get some distance from this train of thinking, I don’t. Again, the events of my childhood are what they are. What’s variable are my thinking and state of consciousness, which cause me to suffer or not to suffer.
Equally fascinating about “why bad things happen” is that, from distance and perspective, it’s common for people to describe the experience of suffering as a path to growth or even enlightenment. It’s as if suffering is part of a universal intelligence or greater plan at work; since, in suffering’s wake, so many of us become more resilient, connected, and loving.
Finally, I want to make clear that this article is not meant to ease suffering (that’s simply not possible); it’s meant to explain it. Suffering occurs when human beings do what human beings do: look outside—to circumstance, the past, other people, or ourselves—in a quest to figure out why we feel what we feel. Salvation occurs when human beings do what human beings also do: wake up to the folly in looking outside and turn back WITHIN.
In other words, the more we grasp just how normal the normal ebb and flow of the human experience truly is, the less our feelings will matter to us, the less we’ll struggle with struggle, and the less we’ll ask “why.”
Hang in everyone. Love,