The following quote by Sogyal Rinpoche truly speaks to me right now:
"The quality of life in the realm of the gods may look superior to our own, yet the masters tell us that human life is infinitely more valuable. Why? Because of the very fact that we have the awareness and intelligence that are the raw materials for enlightenment, and because the very suffering that pervades this human realm is itself the spur to spiritual transformation.
"Pain, grief, loss, and ceaseless frustration of every kind are there for a very real and dramatic purpose: to wake us up, to enable, almost to force us to break out of the cycle of samsara and so release our imprisoned splendor."
What is this imprisoned splendor? Why do so many of us lose touch with it? When do we lose it and how do some regain it while others remain disconnected from it?
Life circumstance, trauma, socioeconomic hardship, immeasurable suffering---some individuals are born to lives which subject them to such hardship that they lose the wherewithal to connect with their birthright of ineffable joy. One need only consider countries littered with landmines, countries at war for generations, the disenfranchised, the destitute, the disdained. Suffering is everywhere.
So, when we personally have an opportunity to connect with our own imprisoned splendor and joy, do we jump at the chance to do so, or do we avoid the opportunity out of guilt or feelings of unworthiness? How much extra pain do we cause ourselves in the process as we deny ourselves the joy we deserve?
Yes, suffering is universal, and awakening from the grip of suffering is a privilege for which so few of us are grateful, and which even fewer of us readily embrace.