This article by John-Roger was originally published in the New Day Herald in July, 2003. It is excerpted from his book Fulfilling Your Spiritual Promise.
When you look at the larger picture—the entire planet—or a particularly difficult situation someone is in, look at it through the higher perspective, which is that this is a planet designed for learning and balancing karma. Also remember that from the perspective of the Soul, it is all just experience—neither good nor bad. – John-Roger, DSS
Most of us at one time or another ask why there is so much suffering in the world and, even closer to home, why we ourselves suffer. Suffering is the result of attachment. Attachment is the result of desire. Desire is the result of not feeling whole and complete. Not feeling whole and complete is the result of not being in contact with God. So, suffering is obliterated by finding God, and that is what I teach.
Looked at that way, we can see that suffering is an attitude—a point of view and a point of identification. We all have experienced suffering in our ego, which generally suffers when it cannot get its own way and have the things it wants—when it wants them and the way it wants them. In short, the ego creates its own suffering out of its own desires and demands.
The Soul, however, does not suffer. Instead, it looks at every situation as an opportunity to get more experience. When we look at things from the point of view of a level other than the Soul, or when we identify with something other than the Soul, we can experience suffering. When we identify with the Soul (which is who we truly are) and when we look at things from the Soul’s viewing point and really know the truth of that, we can have the joy of the Spirit in the midst of suffering on another level (for example, grief, physical pain, etc.).
We do not have to suffer to get to God, yet our suffering can serve a purpose because it can make us so uncomfortable that we may say, “There must be something different,” and we may turn to God. The ego and the personality are restricted consciousnesses, and they cannot go into God, although God can come into them. When we begin to give up those restricted consciousnesses and their demands and desires, we may feel pain and suffering on those levels, but it is only because we are still holding on to the restriction and not moving into the freedom of Spirit.
This does not mean that you should become indifferent to people’s suffering or that their pain is not real. Through feeling the pain of others, we can become more compassionate and be moved to assist. When it is in your power to ease another’s pain, do that. This would be with the people directly in your life, the people you are around, and sometimes that could be just being friendly and speaking kindly, offering someone a ride, listening with acceptance to someone talk, putting yourself in another’s shoes. You may also, of course, feel called to assist others beyond your immediate sphere.
When you look at the larger picture—the entire planet—or a particularly difficult situation someone is in, look at it through the higher perspective, which is that this is a planet designed for learning and balancing karma. The Souls that choose to come here are both privileged and strong. It takes strength for a Soul even to come to and live on this level and to put itself in line to get the lessons that life on the planet offers, but it is also a blessing because so much karma can be cleared from this level. Also remember that from the perspective of the Soul, it is all just experience—neither good nor bad. That attitude can go into callousness, so that is why you need to keep compassion in your heart. But compassion without the higher spiritual understanding can lead to emotionalism and being “too” involved in the pains of this level. It is a balance that you will need to find for yourself as you go through life.
One thing you can always do to assist is to love it all—the situation, the people involved, your own distress or upset, the whole thing. Say that you are upset over the violence in the world. When you are in any kind of distress over that, you are “in it.” When you can expand beyond it (that is, rise above it), you can bring in the love. Those are not just words. In your consciousness, you actually move above and expand beyond it. You turn from your thoughts about it and your emotions over it, and you go into the greater part of yourself (the Christ, the Traveler), where there is only love for everything—the violence, the people who perpetrate it, those who are on the receiving end of it, your distress over it, your judgments that it is even allowed—everything. Only through more loving can more things be healed.
If, on some level, you feel responsible for what is happening in the world, you can let that go. Your feeling the pain of the world does not decrease the pain. But your loving in the midst of pain can only help.
When we live in the Spirit, we feel joy, no matter what is going on, and I also doubt if any of us in a physical body lives in a high, ecstatic state of joy all the time. So if your level of joy is down, does that mean that something is off spiritually? No, it just means you are not feeling the joy of the Spirit. If you are working through a lot of things karmically and there are lessons to be learned, you may not experience joy, because sometimes we do not learn much in joy, being oblivious to the lessons that are presented because we are so joyful. Most of us have learned more through suffering than we have learned through joy—or even through mediocrity or mundaneness. Almost always, you will find that the suffering is your attachment or the fear of breaking the attachment.
I would say that suffering’s value is in not doing what you did before, and I have seen over the years that once a person gets sick and tired of being tired and sick, they change, and a change of attitude is often the first step. You can use your pain and suffering to show you where you need to love and forgive more. Used like this, pain and suffering can be stepping-stones to your greater freedom.
Q&A ABOUT SUFFERING
Q: You said that “suffering is the result of attachment. Attachment is the result of desire.” Does that mean I shouldn’t desire anything?
J-R: What I’m talking about is desiring something or someone to the degree that you feel you couldn’t live without it—a consuming depth of desire. Desire is part of the human condition and part of living on this planet. Keeping our wants and desires in perspective so that they are not running us (in other words, we stay in balance with them) is the way to effectively deal with desires.
Q: I am afraid to desire something, even if I say, “for the highest good,” because I don’t want to get into a desire pattern.
J-R: Wanting something and putting it in the Light doesn’t automatically create a desire pattern. It’s when you desire something to the point of total distraction that a desire pattern can be created. When you ask for the Light for the highest good in relation to something you want, it is then also important to let it go and forget about it. Just trust that if it’s for the highest good, it will come forward, and if it isn’t, it most likely won’t. Asking “for the highest good” is like a safety net because you are leaving it up to God. This sets in motion only that which is for your highest good.
Q: How can I desire things in the world less?
J-R: When you think you have to have something out there in the world, stop and ask yourself, “How do I look through the eyes of God to see if that is for me?” The gaze of God will start appearing within you. The way will appear before you. The Light will go ahead of you, and you will know your direction.
Q: There are so many things that I don’t understand about myself and the world. It all seems overwhelming. Where do I start?
J-R: Start with your next breath, and take one step at a time. If, when you look at yourself, you see so many things you want to change that it’s overwhelming, you might never start. So start with one thing. And when you have succeeded with that, you may decide to take on the next. Everything doesn’t have to be changed overnight. Be patient with yourself, keep loving yourself, and give yourself credit for the steps you are taking.
The same holds true when you look at “the state of the world.” Start with yourself. Bring yourself into line first—one step at a time. Taking care of yourself or changing yourself could have profound effects on the rest of the world. But remember that you are not responsible for changing the entire world. Your main responsibility is to yourself.
Q: Does desiring anything produce karma and, if so, how can I learn to live in such a way as to dissolve karma?
J-R: Live your life as lovingly as you can and apply the teachings in your life, and the Traveler will handle the rest.
WATCH A VIDEO BY JOHN-ROGER ON SOUL TRANSCENDENCE