Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Today’s Question by the reader : Christian

Author: Paulo Coelho

I’ve always wondered why is it that society, especially western society, has equated misery with holiness? It is obvious that as the Buddha once said, “Life is suffering” however, people seem to have this preconceived notion that ‘the more I suffer, especially unnecessarily, the holier I will be to God/society.’

Similarly why don’t people strive for joy instead of trying to avoid suffering?

I don’t know…maybe it’s just me, but these religious beliefs seem irreligious to me.

Dear Christian,

This is also a question I pondered over many times in my life. Why all this guilt, why the preconceived notion that depriving oneself from the joys of life may bring some sort of afterlife reward? Why is it that the image of Jesus in the cross, suffering, is the one that is used by the Church?

I don’t know how or when exactly this notion of suffering became the rule – especially in the Christian faith – but what I do know is that the religious experience goes beyond this vision. Compassion in my eyes is the real message of the great messengers of Humanity. It’s by focusing on their examples of life, their experience and their message that we can clearly see that there is a way out of all this guilt, which ultimately is this fear that binds and blinds people.

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