You all make very good points, and I have enjoyed what I've read here. I would like to comment on this discussion about suffering on the path to enlightenment. Now, not to toot my own horn, but I can honestly say that I have achieved enlightenment (originally through a combination of isolation, fasting, and meditation) and like many have mentioned here, it is an ongoing process, you must constantly keep your ego in check by crucifying it on a regular basis. However, I can say that the suffering disappears when you fully understand its purpose. And though it may seem like suffering to an outside observer, it is actually something completely different to you. The best analogy (off the top of my head) that explains this has to do with the soreness that accompanies rigorous exercise. To someone who exercises sparsely and sporadically this soreness is nothing but pain and discomfort. But to someone who makes exercise their life, like say a bodybuilder, this soreness can actually be thoroughly enjoyed because it signifies growth and progress in the chosen field, even the stretching involved with working the soreness out becomes an enjoyable experience when you have a full understanding of what's going on in the body. When you come to realize who you truly are, you also come to realize why and how you truly are. These newfound realizations can not only help you understand the necessity of the so-called suffering, but they can also help you see it coming. I find that seven years after my initial enlightenment, I have only recently gotten to this point. To be honest, it wasn't until I devoted my life to guiding others along the path to enlightenment. Once I truly found myself and began to share with others, that's when I started to see the suffering as something completely different than most people. Of course, as has been pointed out here by others, this is my particular case, and everyone's is different, even though everyone's is the same. Just remember, be here, now.
Spiral out, keep going . . .