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How is God related to suffering?


OCDmom
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I don't want to become close to God. I've read and heard that there are more sufferings and trials for those who come closer to Him. Who wants to suffer??? I'm not a masochist. Where is God in all this suffering? Is it really this way? :)

Please help my faith, somebody...

Edited by IrmaJean
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Interesting perspective - This is totally not my understanding of God. God does not increase suffering and trials, there is simply evil in the world. God is someone that you can go to for support, talk to about anything you like, and he will be listening. God will allow for normal suffering but will always work it out for the better even though we may not see it right away. God is only love, not evil or bad. God provides us with unconditional grace freely given without strings. God is always there and waiting to support if we just ask. I will think more about this and write more later.

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Thanks, mabear! This is really the belief that I grew up with. Or at least it is this message that got across to me over the years, with the stories of the saints and ordinary people. Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not them, I don't want to be constantly suffering until I die.

Forgive me - can you clarify what you mean. Which one is the belief you grew up with? I don't think there are saints here on earth, only extraordinarily giving and sacrificial people. This is their choice. Even Mother Teresa did not like what she was doing but kept doing it anyway, she was not a saint - she just chose this path. I don't think this is fully God's way or wish for us. yes he wants us to care for others but he also wants us to care for ourselves. I just happen to personally disagree with the idea that God wants us to suffer. My thought is that he wants us to seek Him when we are so that he can support us through the dificult times. God gave us the freedom to choose, he does not dictate. These are just some of my beliefs about God and his guidance.

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Well, mom, look at it this way, do you think that someone helping the poor in Calcutta would suffer less if she didn't seek God?

I think mabear's point was that suffering happens to all of us. Some people turn to God for help, others don't. But in that relationship, it's not God, or the act of seeking, that causes the suffering.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Hey Folks,

What has happened to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and working on automatic thoughts that cause us grief and replacing them with thoughts based on reliable data???

Allan :confused:

Hi Allen. I think this is the thought in question I've read and heard that there are more sufferings and trials for those who come closer to Him. Who wants to suffer???

I understand that conflict. I think it can be reframed if I look at my own experience with God in my life (as opposed to stories and such that have been passed down and maybe tweeked or exaggerated).

Or is God taboo in the cbt model ? It's not my impression that He is. A thought about God, is still a thought, no ? ;)

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I don't want to become close to God. I've read and heard that there are more sufferings and trials for those who come closer to Him. Who wants to suffer??? I'm not a masochist. Where is God in all this suffering? Is it really this way? :D

Please help my faith, somebody...

Hi OCDmom,

I remember you're asking this question a couple of months ago, and it was a struggle to respond to it then. I've said before That I'm a deeply spiritual and religious man, so this may make it easier to explain it from the inside out.

Buddhism has what they call the Four Noble Truths-- they are not beliefs but categories of experience. The Truths are:

First Noble Truth (What) Suffering exists: Birth, old age, sick and death, or separation from loved ones, or living with enemies, or unfulfilled wishes. The first of the Four Noble Truths, is that all life is full of trouble and suffering.

Second Noble Truth (Why) Suffering arises from attachment to desires and craving. Third Noble Truth (When) Suffering ceases (Nirvana) when attachment to desire and craving ceases.

Fourth Noble Truth (How) Suffering ceases by practicing the Eightfold Path.

The Christian understanding of man's inveterate tendency to do evil and turn away from God is found in the doctrine of Original Sin. This is the view you're ascribing to. In this view, as one nears God, one suffers more b/c of the challenges of the duality of good and evil within humans. The human condition is viewed as one where human nature is the arena where the desires to do good and evil are in protracted conflict. This may be understood as reflecting a fundamental dualism within nature itself, or more commonly as a defect within the human heart. Due to this war within, it is hardly possible to fulfill the highest aspirations to goodness and holiness. This duality creates great pains and results in death, injury and harm coming to believers (Yes I know I did a short shrift to Christianity-- but this is a starting point for a larger discussion).

A third way of describing the human condition is by the theme of ignorance (one sees this in Hinduism). In the Bhagavad-Gita human suffering is a consequence of bondage to our senses. Specifically, most people pass their lives in ignorance of the Divine and the Divine's laws and purpose. Blinded by human striving is in the wrong direction, one that leads to bondage and towards their own destruction.

All things being equal-- all great religions recognize the correctness suffering as a human condition, yet each sees a slight difference in why we suffer. The human condition contradicts and defeats a person's true purpose as ordained by the Divine or established by divine principles. Given this, it would seem that it isn't being close to God that leads to suffering, but simply living that does.

I hope this very concise and possibly not completely accurate (it happens when you try to condense a massive worldview into 3-5 sentences) view may be of some help. Throughout all of this, I'm reminded by a wise letter sent from Ghandi to a 13 year old boy (I sent this to someone else here awhile back):

A 13 year old once asked Ghandi why there were so many religions. Ghandi responded that there is one true God/Holy/Divine Being that is likened to a tree trunk. From this trunk emerge many branches, and from these branches come out even smaller branches until finally, you see the leaf. The leaf clings to it’s branch (not branches) for survival (and meaning?). For Ghandi, each branch was designed to meet the needs of each leaf. A leaf clung to a branch, which was connected to a larger branch and eventually to the trunk: ergo, one Holy Being, many diverging views to support the experience of each leaf--- but always, one truth (trunk).

My Uncle once told me that truth has many sides and infinite truth has infinite expression,… and though the sages may speak with different sounding voices, they still are expressing the same truth. In Hinduism they say that like the bee gathering honey from different flowers, the wise man accepts the essence of different scriptures and sees only the good in all religions,…. “As men approach Me, so receive them. All paths, Arjuna, lead to Me.”

OCDmom, I know at my most deepest levels that the most transcendental of believers, those who are spiritually rich, can come from many religions,… every religion has led its most devout and sincere believers to transcendental knowledge and realization of a supreme and absolute reality-- nonetheless, all promise suffering. Do you remember reading the Buddhist tale about the six blind men and the elephant? It applies here.

On another note-- Allan is right, looking at suffering from a rational perspective may be most helpful in resolving conflicts with God (which, by the way, can easily be incorporated into Allan's CBT idea)

I hope this lengthy response helps. My apologies for the size of it.

David

Edited by David O
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a key word is forebearance. That is not pessimistic at all. Quite the opposite.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism This

Is a good article about stoicism. A quote from the article:

The Stoics did not seek to extinguish emotions, rather they sought to transform them by a resolute 'askēsis' which enables a person to develop clear judgment and inner calm.[22] Logic, reflection, and concentration were the methods of such self-discipline.

The Stoics did not seek to extinguish emotions, rather they sought to transform them by a resolute 'askēsis' which enables a person to develop clear judgment and inner calm.[22] Logic, reflection, and concentration were the methods of such self-discipline.

The Stoics did not seek to extinguish emotions, rather they sought to transform them by a resolute 'askēsis' which enables a person to develop clear judgment and inner calm.[22] Logic, reflection, and concentration were the methods of such self-discipline.

That is a pretty good way of describing stoical ethics. And, a good way of how I try to operate.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest ASchwartz

Hi Everyone,

I am somewhat concerned about this thread in this forum because the thread and forum do not mix. Here is what I mean:

This forum has to do with Cognitive Reframing. Cognitive Reframing is a therapeutic technique to help those with anxieties, depression, symptoms of OCD and other behaviors, learn how to restructure their thinking in ways that are more down to earth and realistic so that they can reduce their symptoms.

My point is that philosophical discussions about G-D have no place here.

Please do not misinterpret or misunderstand. I have no problem with religion and G-D. I am simply and only stating a fact: Here, we are supposed to work on reframing our thinking, and, not on raising religious questions.

In other words, we are more focused here in terms of "How does this thought I had cause me to feel more depressed? How can I modify the thought so that I do not have to feel this way again?

See what I mean?

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  • 1 month later...

i have to disagree even though my concept of god differs from alot of people, i say be as close to god as you can, bring him into your heart because god represents everything that is good in this world, life, and universe so if you bring him into your heart you will also bring in to it, everything that is good in this world, life, & universe....thats my perspective anyways.

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  • 2 months later...
Guest ASchwartz

Hi Everyone,

We have a forum for discussing religious and spiritual issues.

Here, the goal is to work on cognitive reframing and that is a way to stop or reduce depressive types of thinking.

Allan:confused:

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