Suffering is Necessary Until We Realise it is Unnecessary

“Suffering is necessary until you realise it is unnecessary.”
-Eckhart Tolle

Suffering is a universal condition of human existence. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer believed that while all life forms suffer, humans suffer more because we are self-aware and are endowed with the ability to contemplate the past and anticipate the future. This subjects us to new forms of suffering such as remorse about the past or anxiety about the future.

I grew up in a culture that embraced suffering and conditioned me to equate suffering with growth. It was ingrained in me since an early age that perseverance through trials came with great honour and that suffering was noble. This belief was so firmly fixated in my mind that I devoted much of my life to withholding pleasure and inflicting punishment on myself in the hope that this will be a catalyst for growth. In fact, I took pride in the fact I had the iron will to discipline myself and considered the suffering to be necessary to prove my worth to others. Later on, through my spiritual awakening, I came to the realisation that much of the suffering that I imposed upon myself was unnecessary.

Suffering is a great teacher in life as there would be no depth of being, humility or compassion without it. Yet, I do not believe that suffering is the only way to learn and achieve personal growth. There comes a point when the suffering is sufficient for an awakening, beyond which the suffering becomes unnecessary. As Eckhart Tolle said, “The purpose of the world is for you to suffer, to create the suffering that seems to be what is needed for the awakening to happen. When the awakening happens, with it comes the realisation that suffering is unnecessary now. You have reached the end of suffering because you have transcended the world.”

Beyond the existential suffering that is inherent in life itself, most of the suffering we experience is unnecessary. The idea of unnecessary suffering is mainly used in the context of animal welfare legislation to prevent unnecessary cruelty to animals. However, it is not just animals which are subject to unnecessary suffering. We have to come to the realisation that we inflict unnecessary suffering upon ourselves and upon others consciously and unconsciously through our thoughts, words and actions. Learning to reduce unnecessary suffering for ourselves and for others is a higher order of spiritual growth than embracing all the suffering that is possible. As Bryant H. McGill said, “Through spiritual maturity you will see new ways to avoid unnecessary suffering; wiser ways to endure unavoidable hardships with grace, and opportunities to turn your pain into lessons of service and healing for others.

The end of unnecessary suffering is only possible through liberation from the conditioned mind. In a world of impermanence, unnecessary suffering is caused by the identification with form and cultural conditioning. It is also caused by resistance to the flow of life and resistance to the very idea of suffering – this resistance only serves to perpetuate unnecessary suffering. Through the practice of mindfulness and meditation, we can deconstruct these false mental attachments until only the ultimate ease remains. True freedom from unnecessary suffering can only be found in the present moment when we choose to live consciously. As Eckhart Tolle said, “True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”

© nightdawnday
p.s. Leave a comment if this resonated with you. I love to hear your stories!

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruth Kirk says:

    The perfect post! Thank you so much. It made me feel that I’m probably not the only person who feels it’s not a disaster to die of the Coronavirus! xxxx

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We must be on the same frequency or something, for my recent post was more or less along the same lines as yours.


  3. “Through the practice of mindfulness and meditation, we can deconstruct these false mental attachments until only the ultimate ease remains.” Beautiful post. Just wanted to add that through a process of healing unconscious beliefs, we are also freed from our suffering. This very topic came up in my most recent healing session.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I wish I’d had these words come to mind when I was expressing to someone that I don’t understand the need or desire to stay plugged into the coronavirus stuff 24/7 and fixate on it. I see it as inflicting suffering on myself to do so. Anyhow… thank you for posting this and putting more concise words to what I was trying to express.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jigarart says:

    Very well written.. true.. thanks for the like on my blogs.. 🙂


  6. Lasta says:

    I’m very interested in the concept of ‘spiritual maturity.’ I’ve just seen your blog for the first time today after you liked a post on my blog. I’m delighted to see it as we seem interested in a lot of the same things.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. heart2hoot says:

    This is unequivocally the most honest truth I’ve read lately. Nice work, sweetheart. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. riteshenoy says:

    I think suffering is the inability to handle our minds and emotions. So we must know how to handle that then we will be joyful.

    See my recent post about inner engineering 😊😊🙏🙏


  9. Bryan Wagner says:

    Suffering is. But doesn’t have to be. Once we understand and accept we are not our thoughts we start to free fall in freedom.
    Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. lynnefisher says:

    This is so well explained. I read Eckhart Tolle when i was going through a midlife crisis and through him and other teachings I realised that I was going through a very important spiritual change even though it seemed a little fanciful at first to me to call it that. But I learned and felt the knowing that i had created my own suffering based upon the social conditioning we all succumb to in our striving for happiness and success. For me, it was a creative journey where I learned to create, through my painting and writing, for pleasure and personal meaning even if it wasn’t bringing me the financial success I so felt i needed. The important thing was to do my creative work, so i came to respect it far more through this. So when you say ”The end of unnecessary suffering is only possible through liberation from the conditioned mind” – I know this to be true and I take care of my own spirituality now and through that can help others here and there. Cheers for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. terryshen says:

    You write like a true Buddhist. Hope you find enlightment without suffering. Namaste.


  12. Jaz says:

    I love this post! I also grew up in a culture that praises the outcome of suffering. Agree with your point that we can only triumph over suffering if we free ourselves from the “conditioned mind”. Keep up the great writing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. arteriarichardson says:

    Wow I love this ! How funny is that these last few days the craziest things been happening to me but I been so calm about it . I let things take place in that moment and moved on from it because nothing is worth my peace especially all that’s going on in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for this post, it concisely expressed the thoughts that seem quite akin to mine


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