The Capacity for a Coming Joy

Why do we suffer. Is there any reason for it at all?

Paramahansa Yogoananda, the first Yoga master to come to America in 1916 say is one of his books that the world is a theatre created by God for the entertainment of us all. But when the drama became scary many people panicked and started doing desperate things to each other in order to protect themselves. That caused the mechanisms built into the universe that return a blow for a blow and a kindness for a kindness, also called the law of karma, to start recompensing us for our misdeeds. God didn’t like it but he can’t change the laws of the universe so it stands as is. This negative action, according to Yogananda, spiraled us downward into increasing darkness. God can only do so much to pull us back up, again, because of the laws of the universe and their unstoppable action. This explanations sounds possible to me because I see every day that actions, on every level have reactions, sometimes instantly. (Yogananda adds that opportunities are things we have earned by our past actions so we don’t have to turn them away thinking we don’t deserve them or that they are somehow unclean.) But anyway, a philosopher name Alan Watts speculated that at one time in the past, when people tired of all happy experiences, they may have, as the immortal souls he believed we all are, decided to try scary experiences for the thrill of them. It may be that we, like God, as souls, have no beginning or end, and got painfully bored with life. When God created this theatre for us, the unpleasant parts of the drama were also intended for entertainment. Edgar Allen Poe, the famous horror story writer of the eighteen hundreds formally stated that death is entertaining as a element of fiction, and played it heavily in his poetry and short stories. But suffering may have another value besides entertainment in the present. Perhaps it creates in us, along with the deep feelings we have for family members and close friends, the capacity for a great coming joy we will all experience in the future, by the agency of God. Thus the problem of our painful boredom as immortal souls in the bodiless realms will be solved, by our new found capacity to experience joy again. We will see then that death as experienced here in the physical world is really no big deal and we will have our memories to laugh about and to tell and retell to each other, some of which will be stories of great deeds done by many, many everyday people, including ourselves. When the Yoga masters say death is an illusion they just mean, I believe, that the soul goes on. Although this is only speculation on my part, it often cheers me up and softens difficult experiences and makes kinder decisions towards other easier.