A friend just emailed and reported that even in the midst of a profound opening to the experience of oneness with everything, she is still saddened by the suffering in the world, and she wonders why consciousness seems to need to suffer so much. Here is the response I wrote:
The question of why does consciousness need suffering is a difficult question to answer, but we can get a hint of the answer by noticing how much suffering opens our Heart. It seems that even though consciousness is infinite, it still likes to stretch itself by opening even wider. Eventually we as individuals learn that we do not need to suffer in order to open the Heart, and when we do there is a great sigh of relief to know that we can just go directly to the love and the softness. But until we learn this, life keeps reminding us to open our Heart even wider by showing us the suffering that arises when we do not.
And even when we have surrendered and given our Heart totally to the truth, we still experience the suffering of others so that we are inspired to reach out and show them the same love that has rescued us. And the pain itself is a good hurt like the good hurt from exercise, as you described. In the end it turns out that the suffering was all just an idea of suffering and what is really happening is this stretching and unfolding of our infinite Heart. There is no suffering in the depths of love, and there never has been.