Newcomers to the spiritual path like to ask “Big Questions.”
One of the weighty questions I’m often asked is: “If God’s nature is bliss – why did He create suffering?”
I try to help people satisfy their curiosity about the nature of the universe, God, and human life. But, speaking strictly for myself, I’m not terribly interested in the Big Answers.
It’s not that the big questions don’t matter, but I’ve grown to understand that knowing the answers doesn’t help us find our true home, in God’s love and bliss.
In my long friendship with Swami Kriyananda, there were many times when I realized that his understanding was vastly more expanded than my own. It wasn’t that I was stupid, but his awareness was just so much bigger than mine. I gradually came to understand that if I wanted answers to the “big questions,” I would have to make my consciousness big enough to receive them.
When I was new on the path, I imagined that if I could answer every question that occurred to my mind, the explanations would change my life. But with Swami Kriyananda’s help, I realized that it was much more important to change my heart.
In fact, Swamiji taught me that the answer to all of life’s big questions is to love God, give God’s love to others through practical service to them, live selflessly, and meditate.
Knowing the Big Answers doesn’t help me answer the two big questions I face each day: “How do I feel?” and “How can I feel better?”
I know that my choices in the morning will affect how I feel in the afternoon. And the choices I make today will affect my life’s flavor a week from now.
I prefer the little questions, because they bring little answers that change my heart.
“If God is Bliss, why did He create suffering?” Let’s see if we can find a small answer to this Big Question.
If you see a good movie or discover a fine restaurant, the first thing you want to do is tell a friend about it.
We instinctively know that our happiness increases when we share it with others. As Swami Kriyananda said, “It is the nature of bliss to want to share itself.”
Perhaps your friend didn’t enjoy the movie or the restaurant. It doesn’t matter – it doesn’t affect your happiness in sharing with him.
God made the world from His nature, which is satchidanandam – “ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss,” as Paramhansa Yogananda translated the ancient Sanskrit definition.
In essence, nothing exists in this world but bliss. We suffer only because of how we misperceive the world. Then we blame God for our perception. We complain, “Why didn’t You make it easier to know Your Bliss?”
If you feel hurt and angry because you believe a friend has betrayed you, and you later find that your friend behaved very well, is it your friend’s fault that you suffered? Everything was fine. It was you who misunderstood.
The saints tell us that we make the same mistake with God. We blame God for our suffering, when it is our own misunderstanding that causes us to suffer. Once we realize how we have misunderstood Him, our lives become a feast of love in God.
Let’s look at another big question: “Who put us here, and why?” At first, it seems a big, important question. The trouble is, no one can give us an answer that will make the slightest difference to the fact that we are imprisoned in ignorance of God’s bliss.
People say, “But it is God’s fault – after all, He created this prison!”
Ah, well, now we have someone to blame! We can be angry at God. But, in time, we realize that our anger has no effect. It simply makes the prison of our consciousness even more unpleasant.
So we begin to ask, “How can I get out of this prison of human life?” The question of why God put us here isn’t as important as finding the prison door.
And then we begin to ask the little questions in our lives – the answers to which will bring us more and more of God’s bliss and love.
“How can I love more? How can I share God’s kindness, compassion, and friendship with others?” When we ask God to help us answer these little questions, we find the big questions being answered automatically.
The masters tell us that when we finally escape from the prison of earthly life, there is nothing to understand, nothing to forgive – there is only Love.