If God has designed our world, then why is there so much suffering here?
Answer: Suffering is an integral part of the purpose for which our world has been designed.
Whenever we evaluate the design of any object, we need to keep its purpose foremost in mind; otherwise even the best design can be easily and erroneously faulted. For example, if we use a cellphone’s message-typing keypad for typing a book, we will naturally feel justified in criticizing the cellphone’s design and designer. But a well-informed person will remind us that the cellphone’s design should be evaluated keeping in mind its primary purpose: to serve as a portable audio communication device.
Similarly, spiritually well-informed individuals remind us that this world’s design should be evaluated keeping in mind its primary purpose. Most of us assume that this world’s purpose is to facilitate our comfortable and enjoyable living – and this often-unspoken assumption makes us feel justified in criticizing its design and designer. But could it be that this assumption is erroneous, that the world has some other purpose? How can we know that purpose? From God, who is the designer of this world. God is implicitly accepted as the world‘s designer even by atheists when they point to the apparent faultiness of the world’s design as a proof of God’s non-existence. Therefore, for knowing the purpose of this world, logically we should turn to designer’s words – the god-given scriptures like the Bhagavad-gita
These scriptures inform us that this world is meant primarily to serve as a transitional, curative place – something like a hospital. Everything within a hospital – from the hi-tech MRI scanning devices to the spice-less meals – is well-designed, yet sufferings are also innately, unavoidably present in the hospital. The sufferings in a hospital are not because of the doctor, but in spite of the doctor; the sufferings are caused by the patients’ sickness, which in turn originates in their past imprudent lifestyle choices. Similarly, the Vedic scriptures explain that the sufferings in this world are not because of God, but in spite of God. These sufferings are caused by our own spiritual sickness, which it turn originates in our own imprudent lifestyle choice of wanting to enjoy separate from God.
When the patients’ start cooperating with the doctor by accepting the prescribed treatment, then they experience the benefit of improved health and then realize that the hospital is truly well-designed. Similarly, if we start cooperating with God by accepting his prescribed treatment of redirecting our love from matter to spirit by chanting the holy names, then we will experience for ourselves the benefit of improved spiritual health accompanied by mental peace and inner fulfillment. Then we will realize that the world is truly well-designed.