Spiritual Traveler: Why Must There Be Suffering?

by stewart

Show me someone

Whose life has been easy

And I will show you

Half a person.



For the spiritual traveler, every day life problems offer an opportunity to learn and move forward along the Path.  Problems like running late to work, not having enough money to pay for gas and wondering whether the kids are coming down with a cold — all stressors at some point, on a spiritual level, offer the opportunity to go deep within our Selves.

Once the problem passes and/or is resolved, the traveler wonders: why is life filled with so many ups and downs? Why must there always be clouds to cover the sun?

Problems are placed before you

So you may overcome them.

-A. Hussain

Searching for a personal answer, the traveler looks about and sees others who are in pain or suffering from a seemingly endless variety of physical ailments. Gradually the heart begins to ask: to what purpose is all this pain and suffering?  To this mystery, the Teaching offers both a short and long answer.

Also this is one of those areas where the mind or every day consciousness asks the question, and the heart or inner spiritual awareness ponders and answers only through life itself.  The every day mind is not capable of completely figuring it out; in fact, that is not its job. Its job is to ask so the heart might respond.

One of my teachers used to say that daily problems, suffering and pain serve as a friction which pushes the traveler onward, searching; pain and suffering is the great teacher.  Further, if this life were all joy, laughter and sunshine, many would have no need of the Light or to travel further and experience what lies beyond both suffering and sunshine — the Oneness.

In answering this personal question — why is life filled with problems and suffering — to fully comprehend the lesson, you must have your own experience. As the Light wills, ask and one day you shall be “illuminated.”  In the meantime, it is good to consult the books, religions and experts. Part of the answer is presented there as well.

Consider why the soul comes to this realm: to experience the fullness, to serve and to be co-creator.  In order for there to be Light, there must be darkness to compare it with; and beyond them both is the Oneness.  The Oneness is perceived through love and asking; in order for this personal spiritual experience to occur, you must put aside for a time preconceived notions about what you have been taught and your judgments about Deity.

The story Teddy’s Last Swim in Paradise Land (the second book in Journey of Light Trilogy*) specifically addresses this dimension of life — why travelers are born only to suffer or to endure terrible illness. The book’s plotline approaches this from the perspective of an entire family that faces life-long mental illness (in the younger son) and eventually Alzheimer’s disease (in one of the parents). This story offers the ancient teaching that some souls come here specifically to take on the mantle of suffering and illness so that they might spiritually advance and help others around them learn and question.

This answer is offered as a possibility to Teddy (the story’s main character); he is asked to not immediately reject or accept it, but over time to let the potential be fully considered.

As the Light wills, may your journey through life be glorious and all your questions have answers.

*          *

Just as water must undergo change

To become snow,

So we must undergo

A process of alteration.


Slowly, this world of the senses

Must be taught to give way

To the world of the soul.


Then, the change is complete. 


*          *


No one’s life is easy;

To each is a struggle.


Only the perfected ones

Are able to look at their pain and laugh.

To them, joy and sorrow fade

In Realization of the Beloved.


*S. Bitkoff, Journey of Light:Trilogy, Authorhouse, 2004.

Check-out my two books: Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life and The Ferryman’s Dream.  Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.

If you are interested in learning more about universal mysticism and Sufism contact: drbitkoff@yahoo.com.




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alaysia July 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I don’t think I would be a strong person if not for those downs, mine and others. If everything were sunshine and rainbows, I’d be a very shallow person with no drive , no reason to look within.
As always Stewart, thank you so much for your informative and yes, beautiful insights.


stewart July 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Hi Alaysia-

Thanks for your comments; so many lessons and some days I’m not the greatest student- missing the lesson and not paying attention in class.


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