Anyone who has spent time questioning the nature of reality has asked the question, “Why suffering?” This question has undoubtedly been the most anguishing and heartfelt question addressed to God over any other. Why do children and animals have to suffer? What is the purpose of what seems to be senseless suffering in adults? Joseph Campbell spent his lifelong search for the answer to many of life’s questions through myths, symbols, and metaphors. What he has seen is that suffering has a purpose. It is to teach. Suffering can force us to awaken to a higher wisdom. Paramahansa Yogananda, the great teacher of meditation, said that friction is necessary for all things to grow. Friction can be seen in all things in the universe from the big bang to the formation of planets to the evolution of the human soul. Campbell found that this theme of suffering or friction as Yogananda calls it is present in all myths and is often reflected in the hero’s journey. Campbell says that the hero’s journey requires suffering for it is the suffering that moves the hero to take the journey. Perhaps the next time you question the purpose of suffering you might consider its role in all of the universe and life itself from Campbell’s and Yogananda’s perspectives.

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