We all know what pain is; we all have experienced physical, mental, or emotional pain at some point or another throughout our life. Pain is suffering and as long as we are in the body, it is inevitable, it is part of life. Yet we seldom understand what the meaning of our pain is, what its purpose may be, or how it arises, and we try to avoid it at any cost, sometimes even at a high price with drugs, alcohol, or other addictions. Or we can also become addicted to being in pain and enjoy the illusionary, private celebrity of martyrdom!
Pain arises from desire and attachment. The mind creates a desire and gets attached to it by identifying with it. Even the thought of losing something or someone you are attached to is painful. But think about this for a moment. If you let go of what you have become attached to, you are simply returning to the same situation you were in before you created the attachment. There was no suffering before your mind got attached to the object of your desire because you were free from the desire. Letting go of desire and attachment is the only way back to that sense of freedom, and it is the only way to move beyond all suffering. But it is not easy.
Once you let go of the object of your desire, your mind will try to get you attached to the suffering that letting go brings, or to something else to replace it. Displacing the attachment is not freeing yourself from it, just like displacing an addiction is not being healthy. If you stop doing drugs and turn to alcohol to find comfort, you are letting go of the addiction to drugs, but you are not letting go of the addiction itself. You are still a prisoner of your mind. Peace arrives when you are able to let go of the desire, the attachment, and the pain.
The mind, of course, is like a production line of desires. Once you let go of one desire another one appears, the same way each thought brings about another thought. Even if you are able to fulfill a desire, your mind will soon feel dissatisfied and a new one will take its place. It is the nature of the ego to never be content and to create thoughts and desires. Yet there is a big difference between desires. Some are obviously stronger than others, and some are more positive or dangerous than others. Ultimately, the desire to reach God within is the most liberating of them all. Yet it seems that the most negative desires are the ones that drive the world, so the more attached to the externals, the more you suffer.
Pain has a purpose. It brings you back to your true nature. Instead of simply dwelling in the pain and feeling like a victim of the world, you can remember that you have the choice to free yourself from that self-pity and move beyond it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you should suppress the expression of pain. Quite the opposite. Suppressing is what addictions attempt to do by not allowing you to feel the pain. When you are hurting, you need to express and even dive into the pain. Embrace it, explore it, and let it got.
Pain helps you to accept and surrender to life. If you don’t embrace and understand the pain, then the ego will file it in the mind field and utilize it to build your sense of separation and identification with suffering. In other words, it will identify you with the role of victim, which in turn will create more painful experiences to reinforce that I-sense and keep the pain “alive,” so to speak. It’s like never letting a wound heal. That is dwelling in the pain and in the past, and it generates anger and frustration.
You are your healer. The mind is there to reflect the light of Cosmic intelligence, like a mirror, and is not a separate entity that controls your life and your reactions. It has been colored by your egocentric tendencies, but you have the choice to believe what the mind wants you to, or not. You can choose to witness it, judge and decide what is best for you at any given moment, by creating an emotional distance between you and the mind, and feeding the tendencies that bring you peace and happiness, without relying on anyone or anything but yourself. Only then will the mind reflect the light of consciousness.
To move beyond the ego and the illusion of worldly gratification, you have to go back to what is real, over and over, to touch base regularly with your true nature through meditation and spiritual practices, time spent alone enjoying your own presence, and living a conscious life. True happiness only lies within yourself. It is fundamental to create an internal space of mental silence to observe the mind, to become a witness to your negative tendencies and thoughts, to shift to and cultivate positive ones, to listen to your inner voice and allow the energy of the universe penetrate and guide you toward the ultimate truth, the ultimate freedom from pain and suffering.
In this sense, it is important to keep the mind occupied with positive actions and to make conscious choices to counteract any negative tendencies. You have to train the mind to be quiet and allow the pain to bring you to that silent space within that pushes you beyond the external world. Pain is your friend. It shows you the impermanence of worldly attachments, of egocentric tendencies, and it prompts you toward yourself, that is, God within. You could say that pain is the unreal that brings you back to the real.
© 2010 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.