Lesson of Suffering
“Suffering is not punishment. It is given as a lesson. We give a completely different connotation to the word ‘punishment.’ Punishment means there is a lesson to be learned. If suffering comes to you, do not become disturbed. A specific blessing is hidden within it that will come after you have endured the suffering. Do not force the given conditions. Remember: the blessing for which your heart and mind are longing will come in time. Be watchful not to let this blessing pass you by.
“Do not avoid suffering, but profit by it. … Through suffering Love prepares the conditions for new joy to come.The suffering of today is a condition for future joy.
“Suffering and sorrows are Divine Plows that prepare the ground, so that the seed of future virtues will be able to sprout. When someone suffers, he becomes a better person and more sensitive.
“The awakening of the consciousness does not occur mechanically, but comes through the impulses that come from suffering. The more difficulties a person encounters, the greater the possibilities are for personal growth. The great people had to endure great ordeals. This does not mean that these great people knew only suffering. They also had joys so great that they are not known to the ordinary people.” ~Biensa Douno
Suffering is not Punishment
The first lesson of suffering is that it isn’t a punishment. God doesn’t punish. The Universe doesn’t punish. It teaches.
When you stick your hand in a fire, it gets burned. That is not because the fire is punishing you. It is because you need to learn to respect the boundaries and restrictions of the physical world. The same is true with sticking a finger in acid or eating something that makes you sick. It isn’t a punishment. It is a lesson of suffering to teach you how the world functions.
Another Lesson of Suffering: Change
When everything is going well when we are happy and contented, we don’t want to change, we don’t want to grow. This is simply the way of the human mind. Why try to improve when you are enjoying where you are?
But we all do need to improve, to change. The world is constantly changing and we must be doing the same. Those who choose to stop growing and changing rarely, if ever, accomplish anything.
When something interrupts our joy and comfort with suffering, we want to change. Often, change must be triggered by suffering or sorrows of some sort. We all need to continue to grow, and the lesson of suffering reminds us to do that.
Empathy is also a Lesson of Suffering
Many of us who are developing our spiritual Selves are empathic in the sense that we can literally feel the pains and suffering of those around us. But even those who are not empathic in that way need to truly understand and empathize with those who suffer. That is another reason why some forms of suffering may afflict us. Empathy is a lesson of suffering for all, even those who are not empaths.
Profit By It
So Douno says that rather than trying to hide from suffering, we should learn to profit from it. That means that when we are suffering we need to ask what is the lesson that suffering is trying to teach us. It doesn’t mean that we should seek out suffering and punish ourselves in an effort to grow. Another lesson of suffering is that suffering, in and of itself, doesn’t make us grow. At least not in a spiritual way. What it does is trigger us to get moving and change the things that are preventing our growth. Or even better, it gets us to actively seek out spiritual growth and understanding. But we don’t necessarily need a Dark Night of the Soul to Awaken. That is a myth. A few individuals need that sort of an extreme lesson of suffering, but most of us do not, so don’t seek it. Small bits of suffering that gets us to move ahead for a while is enough. More suffering does not necessarily mean more or better growth.
First, we don’t need to do anything to awaken our consciousness on the material level. What Douno is talking about is, of course, spiritual consciousness, higher levels of consciousness. I find I have to disagree with him on what he says about it in the book quoted. Suffering does not in itself cause a spiritual awakening of consciousness. What it can do for some is trigger us to seek a spiritual awakening. When St. Francis was suffering from what we now call PTSD, it wasn’t the suffering that awakened him. He awakened while watching the sunrise from his bed. The PTSD triggered the lesson of suffering, but it was the Light of the Spiritual Sun that did the actual awakening. There is a lesson far more of us need to learn.