Nature of the Pain

Whatever befalls you; walk on..untouched, unattached



Are you holding any grudges against anyone? Has someone hurt you so deeply that it is difficult to let go of that pain, and is getting worse as life is moving on? Why is it so difficult to forgive or face the person who caused us so much of misery? It is only human to feel perturbed due to some past soreness and it is equally human to cause such a pain to someone. The nature of the pain is much like peeling an onion; the more you indulge in it, more it discomforts you and just like an empty middle of an onion, at the end you achieve nothing but just shreds of scattered agony.


Pain of mind is worse than pain of the body

One thing I’ve learnt after reading many books dissecting pain to its thinnest speck, is that worrying is an involuntary act that results from sitting on an assumed thought for far too long because ‘reality’ in its most literal sense is all about doing. It is the anticipation that is more painful than pain itself, scarier than fear itself and more killing than death itself. Practically putting it, if you break a bone, you feel pain in its actuality and that is ok and natural! But if you think what if I break a bone and how much it would pain, then you aren’t feeling the actual pain but stressing your entire being about something that hasn’t happened and that is a huge problem!


This excerpt from “Zen Antics by Thomas Leary” talks about the importance of living in the present and immersing the self in perennial action rather than sitting on an ever growing pile of judgements that are spruiked constantly by that relentless inner-voice.

Mind-study was a lay self-improvement movement influenced by Zen. One day a follower of Mind studies came to Zen master Shosan to ask about the essentials of Buddhism. The Zen master said, “Buddhism is not a matter of using your discursive intellect to govern your body. It is a matter of using the moment of the immediate present purely, not wasting it, without thinking about past or future. “This is why the ancients exhorted people first of all to be careful of time: this means guarding the mind strictly, sweeping away all things, whether good or bad, and detaching from the ego. ”Furthermore,” Zen master continued, “for the reformation of mind it is good to observe the principle of cause and effect. For example, even if others hate us, we should not resent them; we should criticize ourselves, thinking why people should hate us for no reason, assuming that there must be a causal factor in us, and even that there must be other as yet unknown casual factors in us.

“Maintaining that all things are effects of causes, we should not make judgments based on subjective ideas. On the whole, things do not happen in accord with subjective ideas; they happen in accord with the laws of Nature. If you maintain awareness of this, your mind will become very clear.”


Here is a short story further explaining the nature of the pain and how by enlarging our awareness that whatever happens has a higher good hidden in it, we can free ourselves from its clutches:

An aging Hindu master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, he sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. “How does it taste?” the master asked. “Bitter,” spit the apprentice. The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.” As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?” “Much fresher,” remarked the apprentice. “Do you taste the salt?” asked the master. “No,” said the young man. At this, the master sat beside the young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering, “The pain of life is pure salt, no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things… Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”


It isn’t easy to let go of something that is so dear to the ego. As Thich Hanh puts it aptly “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of the fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar”. But this victim mentality does more damage than gathering courage to walk that extra mile. Nature of the pain is to identify itself with the mind more than the problem because the fact of the matter is that mind is the actual problem. The moment we realize the presence of this unremitting thinker inside, we make a quantum leap in our consciousness where the materialistic polarity that spawns the pain in the first place, cease to exist!


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