In the context of Gnosis, the word suffering is far more broad in its implications than mere physical, emotional, or mental pain. These are undoubtedly difficult and lamentable, but are mere side effects of the true cause. All suffering is rooted in a fundamental ignorance of our true nature.
In simple terms, suffering is any state of being that lacks contact with our inner source of serenity and happiness. There are many names for that source, but all point toward the same fundamental element: the consciousness, unobscured and free of the limitations imposed by desires, fears, resentments, and any type of cage.
In addition to the physical, emotional, or mental forms of suffering, a being is suffering when it lacks direct perception of its divine source—God, Allah, Buddha, or whatever name you want to use. This means that all of us are suffering. We might believe or disbelieve in God, we might imagine God, but that is not the same as seeing the Divine, talking to the Divine, and getting answers and guidance from the Divine. Being united with the Divine is our natural state. When connected to our true nature, we are naturally content and happy. When we lack that connection, we are dissatisfied and anxious, always seeking something to fill the hole we feel inside. Unfortunately, this causes us to make a lot of mistakes.
Thus, we can see that suffering is not natural: it is the effect of a cause. The cause of suffering is the separation of the consciousness from its natural state. The natural state of our consciousness is a state of perfect happiness, joy, and freedom.
In Buddhism, the term nirvana refers to a state of cessation of suffering. That is, the consciousness has recovered its original state: union with the divine. In Sanskrit, this is called yoga, which means “to unite,” and is synonymous with the Latin term religare (“to bind”), the root of the word “religion.” Stated simply, until we are merged with our divine source, we are suffering. Only in “nirvana,” or “heaven,” do we experience a state of cessation of suffering. Nirvana, heaven, is a state of consciousness. It is also a place (or more accurately, places), but that correspond directly to states of consciousness. To enter those places, your consciousness has to vibrate at the same level.
As long as we do not have Gnosis—conscious knowledge—of the Divine, we are suffering. To be free of suffering, we have to restore our consciousness to its natural state. That is, we have to awaken, and stop acting in harmful ways.