Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part II

On Inevitability of suffering:

Suffering is not expiation. All nature suffers: all which lives—the plant, the animal, the man, are submitted to pain. Suffering is a means of evolution, of education.

Physical suffering and moral anguish refine the spirit, and only the benefactions acquired by ourselves, slowly and painfully, are appreciated. Sorrow, suffering, are obligatory roles of earth life. They are the whip—the spur urging us on, and so the evils of life have only a relative and passing character.The soul never sings better than when in sorrow. When pain touches the depths of being, it brings forth eloquent and powerful appeals which move the world.

On Sorrow –  is it a reparation for the past—a ransom for faults committed?

At the foundation, sorrow is only a law of education and equilibrium. Without doubt the faults of the past fall upon us with all their burdens, and determine the conditions of our destiny. Suffering is often only the counterstroke of violations of eternal order: but shared by all, it should be considered as an agent of development—a condition of progress. All beings must submit to it in their turn; its action is beneficial to those who understand it, but only those can understand it who have felt its powerful effects.

On sorrow being a tool for elevation

The history of the world is but the story of the coronation of the soul by sorrow. Without it, virtue could not be complete, or glory imperishable. We must suffer, to grow and to conquer; acts of sacrifice increase spiritual radiations. There is a luminous train which follows spirits of heroes and martyrs in space. Those who have not suffered cannot comprehend these things, for they see only the surface of life; their feelings have not been amplified, and their thoughts embrace only narrow horizons. So, by the will, we can vanquish sorrow, or at least turn it to our profit, and make it an instrument of elevation. The idea that we make for ourselves of joy and pain varies infinitely with the evolution of the individual. The good, wise, and pure soul cannot find happiness in the same manner as the vulgarian.

virtues, sorrow is necessary. Misfortunes and trials stir in us the sources of an unknown life—a more profound life. Sadness and suffering cause us to see, hear, and feel a thousand delicate and powerful things that the happy or the vulgar man never perceives. The material world begins to seem obscure—another is vaguely designed but grows more and more distinct,

Misfortune and anguish are needed to give the soul its richness, its moral beauty, and to awaken its sleeping senses. The sorrowful life is an alembic from which are distilled souls for better worlds. The form, like the soul, is embellished by suffering. There is a charm, at once tender and serious, in the faces which have been often bathed in tears. They take on an austere beauty—a sort of majesty—impressive, yet seductive.