Pain and Suffering: A Pathway to Perspective.

Posted: September 16th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »
Illustration of the pain pathway in René Desca...
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To be alive means that you have experienced and will continue to experience pain and suffering. In the conventional sense, most people don’t enjoy it or search it out, but rest assured, avoiding it is simply not an option available to you.

Pain performs a necessary physical function; it tells us to stop. It alerts us, advising us that something is wrong so that we can attempt to mitigate damage. Sometimes we can and sometimes we can’t.

Compassion and empathy are really just pain and suffering given other names. Instead of experiencing pain and suffering directly, we allow ourselves to feel the hurt and sorrow of others. This sacrifice is transcendent yet sadly, these are the types of pain that as individuals and groups we find the easiest to avoid. And the paradox is that if these emotions were more fully embraced, the overall amount of pain and suffering in the world would sharply decrease.

To experience pain means that a condition has changed for the worse. That infers from a relative point of view, the time prior to the pain was good. The burn received from touching a hot stove is distinguished from being unharmed the moment before. The discomfort of a common cold is distinguished from the time prior to being infected with the virus. A broken heart is distinguished from the time spent in love. And the pain brought on by the death of friend or loved one is distinguished from all the time spent with that person while they were alive.

My point is not to explain the nature of physical or emotional pain or kindle memories of the past, rather it is an attempt to provide a perspective on the present. Pain and suffering focuses us on the value of the seemingly ordinary time that existed before conditions changed.  Unfortunately once the pain manifests, that time in the past is anything but ordinary, it is invaluable. And it is also gone forever.

Appreciate what is now. Enjoy the blessings of this moment. No regrets going forward. No wasted time in the past. Smile. Feel each breath, quiet your thoughts and then allow yourself to truly engage all existence.

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