Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
The Lenten season is closing now in Holy Week. It comes around each year to remind Christians of Christ’s suffering and the suffering that we all endure in life. But, of course, the question of suffering extends to all faiths and is experienced by people regardless of religion.
David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times that, in a culture chasing happiness, it is suffering, and suffering well, that truly defines us.
We suffer, and people suffer around us, in so many different ways. Some of it is widespread, the suffering of whole societies under war. Some of it is deeply personal, the death of a loved one or a divorce or a financial collapse. Whatever the circumstance, suffering can be profound.
How can faith sustain us through suffering and how should suffering inform our faith? Is suffering essential to being whole as a human? And what does it mean to accept suffering rather than reject it?
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
Suffering comes about as a karmic reaction for past deeds to encourage the self to not act against the laws of nature. Because a saintly person realizes that he is not the body, he does not identify with sufferings related to his body and mind.
A simple example is man who works hard and is very attached to his car, when the car gets damaged he practically feels pain. Another man, perhaps extravagantly wealthy, in the same circumstances does not feel the same pain as the man with great attachments to his car.
Therefore, those who are spiritually rich with practical realization of the self beyond the body do not suffer like those who are in the bodily conception of life.