Not too long ago, I made a post about God being a concept that many people have approached differently over the course of human history and gave a very brief idea of what I currently thought God to be. Since then, I've been entertaining a different take on God I've been learning about and I'd like to try and articulate that in this post. The basic idea is that you, me and everything around us is God manifested. God "plays" various roles from a human to a bird to a rock to a star but is one single thing in reality. God is the universe but also may transcend the universe as well. This is along the lines of pantheism or even panentheism that can be found in much of the eastern religions yet can arguably be found in the western religions as well.
Admittedly, this idea is still fairly strange to me and is among many of the things I once outright objected without any real consideration. However, thinking upon it seems to not only resonate on a very deep level but also has led me to a few interesting conclusions.
First of all, it not only puts God in a different light but illuminates the purpose of the universe as well. The concept of God I grew up with was said to have created the universe for his glory and worship alone, while in this concept it seems God created (or rather manifested as) the universe to have experiences -- to love, to fear, to laugh, to cry and to learn. "I", in the grand sense of "I" as an eternal being, have purposefully forgotten who I really am in order to experience "I" in a more limited sense.
This concept of God also seems to support a feeling I've had for awhile, which is that all the suffering we experience is essentially rooted in the illusion of separation. Our journey to be whole beings in this life is based on a yearning for something we all once shared --a universal sense of oneness. This realization of oneness is where we all have been and it is where we all are going because that is truly what we are. From a Hindu perspective, this process has happened before and will happen again and again. It is the cosmic game that God plays to not only have experiences and relationships but to have something to contrast it's fundamental oneness to.
So, essentially the question is not, "why did God allow suffering" but instead perhaps "why did we allow suffering"? The answer to which may lie inside the common structure of many stories in movies, video games, books and so forth-- the protagonist versus antagonist model. There is something psychologically fulfilling about a perceived "good" embarking on an adventure to overcome a perceived "evil". In the same way, we at some point decided to bring about evil, perhaps for the sole purpose of defeating it. By overcoming evil or separation from the One we are able to celebrate good or unity of the One with new freshness and life.