The Purpose of Pain

LonelyI don’t know whether this is a new trend in spiritualism, or whether I am just discovering something I hadn’t noticed before. In various places the concept is arising that a major purposes of life on Earth for souls is to enjoy the experience of pain.

Sounds like another exciting episode of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The notion goes something like this: we come from a spirit world where love prevails. In that world we know that we are all one. One for all and all for one. There are none of the contrasts that so characterize life on earth. For example, no being there is regarded as evil. There is no pain, no deceit, no violence, no loneliness. The very atmosphere of life in the spirit world is love, love, love.

When we as souls live in that bubble, we wonder about the pain of being different.

Apparently during the course of events of eternity, some of us decided that all of this love, love, love wasn’t helping us grow, grow, grow spiritually fast enough. We didn’t like being sloths in paradise. We wanted to experience some contrast. Since what you get in paradise is constant ecstasy, contrast turns out to be conflict, resistance, pain.

We were thinking, well wouldn’t it be great to go to a place where we didn’t get what we wanted whenever we wanted it? Wouldn’t it be great to suffer? Think how much we would learn! Think how much fun that would be!

So we (or at least someone we knew) manifested Earth School. Some of us really wanted to be material girls and boys, so we eagerly signed up. Other souls thought we were crazy. I am not sure why, since they did not know what pain was. Maybe neither did we.

EMBRACE THE LOVE

Most of the time, what I used to hear was that we incarnate on Planet Earth to learn how to love. Our purpose is to love. That’s it. Love.

Then the message got a little more complicated. The notion then became that we were supposed to learn how to love in the face of trials and tribulations. We were supposed to love our enemies. And forgive them.

Many of those conflicts were the results of karma that we had created in our past. If we had cursed, bludgeoned, poisoned, decapitated our fellow human beings in previous lifetimes, we eventually need to pay the piper.

There are no free lunches.

So if in one life you thought it would be fulfilling to capture and torture slaves for a living, in another life, just to balance things out, your soul would say to you, “Hey, here’s a fun idea! It’s time you were born into poverty and raised by cruel, abusive parents. All right? Off you go!”

This theme has countless variations.

Spiritual teachers often insist that karma is about balancing, not punishment. You essentially experience the contrast in another life to what you do in this one. In the spectrum of our Earth lives, the whole kaboodle, we choose a bunch of different roles including playing the bad guys. We may actually choose to be a lowlife criminal during a particular life just to experience the pain of living that awful existence.

EMBRACE THE PAIN

In light of this trend in spiritual philosophy, pain is where it’s at. Embrace the pain. Enjoy the mental anguish.

What’s being taught is an extension of the spinach before ice cream mentality. OK, this doesn’t really work for me because I like spinach, but nevertheless, the idea holds. By completely experiencing the pain of life on Planet Earth, we will be overjoyed to return home to a sexless, immaterial world.

Wait! No sex? Well, everything is better than sex anyway, so don’t worry about it.

There is no pain in heaven. Just about anything that you find painful here in the material world is missing from the spirit world. That’s great, except that apparently some things you find delightful in the material world are also missing in action from the spirit world. A few of those enticements lure us back to this pain-laden wonderland.

Sex, for instance.

Spirits constantly tell us that there is a form of sex in the spirit world, but it is entirely ethereal. It is energy-based. It is merging with another being in complete awareness of who they are, what they think, what they feel. And very unlike life on Earth, people don’t form couples. You merge with anyone and everyone. But it is a fleshless existence, and apparently for us in spirit form, flesh is so compelling, so off-the-charts yummy that we can’t wait to come back here to enjoy it. Then we get here again and re-discover that sex dwells in a cesspool of insecurity, jealousy, deceit, greed, persecution, violence, etc. Just sayin’. We don’t even recognize what a gift we were given, and so we go about destroying it.

PLAN IT AGAIN, SAM

So before incarnating, we engage in planning sessions to design all the great pain we’re going to experience. Oh, yay!

I’m not sure yet how I feel about this idea that Earth School is Pain School. Part of me wonders if accepting that idea while we are here on this planet is a magnet for attracting more pain. It’s as if the universe says, OK you want more pain? Here, have a car crash. Want some catastrophic earthquaking? How about a swarm of locusts?

On the other hand, when I am in the midst of feeling pain, trying to responsibly deal with something yucky, it does help me to consider that perhaps my soul is growing more swiftly because I am enduring the life here. This thought helps me move from rage or angst to love and forgiveness.

Love the bastard. Forgive the bitch.

The Earth is for pain idea usually goes in hand with the life plan idea. Books like Your Soul’s Plan and Your Soul’s Gift by Robert Schwartz illustrate how different traumas, tragedies, and challenges helped people grow. People in his books often experienced enormous pain, but they also grew in leaps and bounds, both in Earth terms and in a spiritual perspective. They often end up thanking God for that blessing in disguise.

People often resist the idea that a tragedy was planned before incarnating. It seems weird and  unloving. Why would someone as a loving soul deliberately choose to step into harm’s way? Well, pain seems to be a great motivator and Earth School is about contrast, pain versus pleasure, bad versus good, light versus dark. No pain, no gain.

For those of us currently existing in physical bodies, it’s not a pleasant thought to wonder if there are more great wallops of pain to come. Are we sitting on ticking time bombs? What else do I get to deal with on my life’s journey?

Yet to quiet that rant comes the idea that we have a team of guides, angels, and loved ones on the other side who help us negotiate any lesson we have on our learning plate. As we grow spiritually, we make wiser choices that help us deal with and even avoid life’s obstacles. Further, good stuff is in store to help balance out what we might see as bad stuff.

Spirit might see our lessons just as many of us watch a TV show or read a good book about someone else’s pain. We enjoy learning about someone else’s troubles, partly as a way to deal with our own. Many of us are entertained by someone else’s troubles. Could it be that our own souls can disassociate with us and our pain as we disassociate from other people’s pain? Hmmm?

In summarizing the main lessons of his book Seeking Jordan, author Matthew McKay, PhD (who co-authored the book with his murdered son Jordan who is on the other side) says in a YouTube interview [edited], “The reason we show up on this beautiful but difficult planet is because there is pain here. In the life between lives, there isn’t any pain. We feel known there. We feel part of things. We feel supported by this vast community of souls. And there isn’t pain in the sense that we know it here. But pain affords us opportunities to grow. Struggling with things that hurt is how we evolve and develop as souls. And perhaps the greatest pain we experience is loss, things that we count on taken from us. Our life here is learning how to love in the face of pain.”

What if Earth is Hell?

 

Scareguy

Think about it.

What if we are actually living in the place called Hell?

What if the idea of Hell was invented to control people—to scare them into submission? What if it is all just a sham of for-profit evangelicalism, a form of religious terrorism handed down from generation to generation?

Much of the spiritual literature I have read suggests that Hell is a human-made construct that only exists in our minds and in our myths. I think this idea may be forbidden fruit worth tasting.

What if Earth is the worst that it gets? What if all the ideas about “going to hell” are stories that keep us festering in a tormented mental state of worry—but in the end it’s just a story?

THE GROUND FLOOR

Spiritual teachers often say that physical Earth is like the ground floor, the bottom step of the stairway to the stars.

When we die we transform from flesh life into spirit life but we remain at a fairly similar vibration to how we are here. That is, we have much the same consciousness as before we died. We do not instantly become enlightened or angelic.

The natural laws in that next dimension, known as the astral plane, are different from the physical laws we knew on physical Earth. Nevertheless, people used to living in a dark and dreary consciousness on Earth still live in a dark and dreary consciousness in the astral.

If a person has done some spiritual work, however, he or she is more prepared to function in the new nonphysical environment that person now inhabits. Mentally and emotionally, people with spiritual insight are more flexible in coping with the change that crossing over presents. They can move out of the astral plane and into the higher planes.

MEDIA HELL

On Earth many people do things or do not do things to avoid going to Hell when they die. Religions for generations have taught that Hell is far worse than life on Earth. It is constant torment and eternal punishment without the possibility of parole. By contrast, for all its troubles, Earth is a cake walk. Yes, even with the Holocaust.

Our mass media continue this conditioning by concocting a flurry of scary stories about ghosts, ghouls, goblins, damnation, and eternal misery. Supposedly for our entertainment, these horror stories condition people to be fearful of the unknown. The sheer volume of angst over ecstasy in our media offerings makes me wonder if we aren’t already in the jaws of Hell.

When I watch movies, almost any movie, I am always impressed by how much conflict, dysfunction, and woe is paraded before us! Movie protagonists rarely experience ecstatic insights and mystical bliss; they’re too busy struggling. Our brains are fed far more visions about anguish and suffering than stories about  joy, success, and harmony. I hardly ever see an exposé about good stuff.

One reason why Earth seems like Hell to me is noticing how relatively difficult it is to find good resources for rising above misery. When I am feeling lonely, depressed, or troubled, my natural tendency is to seek my own way out of it. I often turn to media for a jumpstart. Too often I find rampant negativity and unrest. Unfortunately, many places like the news, social media, and the entertainment industry provide more what’s wrong than what’s right. We’re bombarded with conflict.

Society’s solutions for dealing with stress and angst are often not in our best interest. Drinking, smoking, doping, overeating, gambling, unloving sex are often used by people to help them get out of the doldrums, and usually they put us farther into the doldrums. Society proffers wealth as a solution for misery, but so often wealth just brings on a plethora of new problems including workaholism, rampant consumerism, and total keep-up-with-the-Joneses exhaustion. While you can turn to the church, a therapist, a doctor, higher education, and so on, these solutions usually include heavy time, energy, and financial commitments. They are not quick fixes.

It surprises me that humans have invented more ways to suffer than they have to share examples of life’s bliss. It makes me wonder if that’s by design. Is Earth School the actual Hell?

WHAT IS HELL?

The mythology of Hell is that it is a real place where real eternal torture happens. It even poses God as a co-conspirator in its creation. If you don’t obey God (as interpreted by humans), God will send you to the concentration camp of Hell.

R.C. Sproul wrote: “Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.”

People who have had near-death experiences (NDEs) and spirits channeled through psychic mediums often contradict views like those held by Sproul. A minority of people who have had NDEs did find themselves in hellish circumstances where they encountered demonic antagonists. However, many of these stories had happy endings. The victim was rescued from the pit and escorted to heavenly places before being sent back to Earth. The general conclusion that comes from these stories seems to be that Hell exists but it’s not the eternal fire pit that many religious teach. You can leave it if you choose to.

Many spiritual teachers say that Earth School is where our souls learn valuable lessons about love through our many incarnations. Some teachers say that as souls we deliberately choose to experience pain to learn about love. Obstacles are put in our path for us to overcome. If Earth School is Hell, it is so because it is for our spiritual training. Unlike the religious story, we are not cast in Hell because we were bad; rather, the nature of physical reality creates some hellish circumstances.

Several books out now offer the premise that some people suffer tragedies on purpose. People who have undergone hypnotic past life regressions sometimes talk about how a guide or their higher self arranged for a situation to occur. We consciously think of that event as awful, tragic, horrible, while spirit thinks it’s a golden opportunity for learning.

For example, a rape may be part of a pre-conceived lesson, not a random act of malfeasance. As ugly and bizarre as that notion sounds to the conscious mind, especially to victims of rape, it does suggest that life on Earth is not for wimps. Souls choose different life experiences much as a prolific actor will choose different parts to play, sometimes hero, sometimes villain. Perhaps the often-expressed idea is true that you cannot know great pleasure if you have not known great pain.

Religion, which often doesn’t support reincarnation, peddles the idea of Hell as roasting in eternal fires. It is a very dramatic, visceral kind of misery. But what about the slow din of a life lived without much joy, day upon day of loneliness whether in a crowd or in solitude, the anxiety of failure to find the good life? What about the leisure activity of watching TV or movies or reading books, and most of it is a tour of suffering and conflict?

Life on Earth appears to stick us in a system of social insanity (war, poverty, racism, sexism, violence, materialism) geared to sustain suffering. Where do people find off ramps from misery? How many social institutions can we point to in our world as being truly helpful?

IF THIS IS HELL

If Earth is the fabled Hell, that’s actually good news. First, it means that we pretty much know what the worst is. While there’s plenty of evil around, there are usually ways to cope. We can set our sights on rising above the chaos and the hatred. We can overcome.

Second, it means that Hell does not exist solely to punish. It’s here for rehabilitation—spiritual growth. It’s here to help us learn how to make better choices.

Third, it means that the world scares the shit out of us as part of our spiritual education. We can choose by how we process information how scared we want to be. This also begs the question of whether Earth School is always supposed to be strewn with conflicts, or if through collective free will we can eventually create Heaven on Earth.

Thinking of Earth as Hell is not intended to embrace the religious conception of Hell. It’s not a place of eternal torture and damnation. You don’t get here by being judged as a bad person for not following rules someone told you God made. I see most religion as a for-profit enterprise with a vested interest in bringing in followers. Religions have used propaganda, torture, fear, and manipulation to bring in the followers, and the religious version of Hell could be part of that.

Spiritual teachers suggest that Earth/Hell is the ground floor, the first stage, the foundation. It’s a boot camp for souls who want to learn all about love through contrasts. Like any school, you can achieve what you yearn for and what you earn.

I don’t know whether Heaven or Hell are real places or states of mind, but we do create them symbolically through our beliefs and behaviors. I know that for me to create a heavenly earth, I usually need to detach from media bombardment and negative people. I need to focus my thoughts on what’s good. When bad things happen, I look for the gifts. This helps balance my hurt and outrage.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

A little bit more about the idea that many events in our lives, especially the ones we would call tragic, may have been planned.

The book Seeking Jordan sheds more light on the idea that some tragedies are planned.

Part of the inspiration for this post involved my study of how the media sell conflict. While I did not use the concept of Hell in the piece, the bombardment of content about conflict helps us stay in a mental hell.

Also check out books and videos (YouTube) by Robert Schwartz and Michael Newton.