Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part III

On Nobody escapes sorrow

Sorrow does not strike only the culpable. In our world, honest men suffer as much as the wicked. The virtuous soul, being more evolved, is more sensitive.

To gross souls come violent physical suffering; to the selfish and mercenary, loss of fortune; to the pessimist, torment of mind; for delicate souls, hidden sorrows and heart wounds; and to great thinkers, subtle and profound griefs which send forth sublime cries from the source of genius. Astonishing as it may seem at first, sorrow is but a means of infinite power to attract us to it, and at the same time to bring us more rapidly to spiritual happiness, which alone is durable.

On Why physical suffering

Physical suffering is often an effort of nature which seeks to save us from excess. Without it we would abuse our organs to the point of untimely destruction. When a serious malady attacks us, it often becomes a benefit by causing us to realise and to detest the vices which have caused it. Sometimes we must suffer to understand the laws of health. To weak souls, sickness comes to teach patience, wisdom, and self-control.

To strong souls it offers ideal compensations, in leaving the mind free for flights of aspiration, to the point of forgetting physical suffering. Suffering is no less efficacious for society collective than for the individual. Through it were formed the first human groups. Through the menace of wild beasts, of hunger and floods, men were constrained to band themselves together, and through their common lives, their common sufferings, through their intelligence and labour, came forth civilisation, the arts, sciences, and industries. Again, we can say that physical suffering results often from the disproportion between our corporeal weakness and the colossal forces which surround us. We can only assimilate for ourselves an infinitesimal portion of these forces, but they act upon us constantly, striving to enlarge the sphere of our activity and the power of our sensations