Sunday, October 31, 2010


Pain is unavoidable.  You live, you breath.  You will experience pain.

Enlightenment is not an escape from pain.  It is not a nice calm inner peace that removes all suffering.  Suffering is life.  Enlightenment does not end life, so how could it stop pain?

But yet, I said that the pain I carried with me was no longer my pain.  True.  It's not.  And I don't feel the immensity of the pain, as I did before.

(It's obvious your body will continue to feel pain.  This isn't the pain I want to focus on, although the pain in your body and the pain in your mind are very intimately connected and affect the other easily.  The pain I am talking about is emotional, mental.  Enlightenment does not mean the cessation of pain.)

Pain certainly grasped me firmly before enlightenment.  I would try to leave it behind.  But it always just slipped below the surface, refusing to leave.  It never remained dormant for long; new pain would come, and the old would burst forth again.  Pain waited to overwhelm me; it had never gone.

It's hard to escape these cycles.  We desire for better, yearn for peace.  But if I had been given peace, when my soul was roiling and I was devoid of hope, I wouldn't have known what to do with it.  It probably would have made me nervous, and I would have ran away from it for the comfort of pain.

Pain can be a comfort.  It was, at least, familiar to me.  I knew what to do with pain.  There was a special place for it to gather, and I could always turn to it and think about the tragedies that had befallen me.  Pain was not ambiguous, like happiness was.

Pain doesn't have to be carried around.  There is no you; there is no vessel to collect this putrid filth and try to make sense of you out of it.  Most people experience something and turn around to put that experience into their sense of self.

When bad things happen especially, we want to make sense out of them and give them a reason for happening-or at the least explain what the implication is that it even happened to us.  We analyze the experience.  This happened to you, and it changed the definition you carry of you. 

Enlightenment was the realization that the pain didn't need to be moved about to create the portrait of me.  I did not need to carry pain with me.  There was no me; it was all just illusion.  It was just thought, and it was utter fabrication.  The pain had existed; the past had indeed happened.

But the past was the past.  The pain could remain there. 

It was only after enlightenment that I could bring myself to look fully upon the devastation that had been my life. 

All that pain and torment, all that suffering that had gathered and festered and grown exponentially by languishing in them--it dissolved. 

It didn't sink below the surface to await my next weakening; it was gone.  No more pain to carry with me, an anchor to keep me tied down.

But.  I know there will be pain again.

My heart will break.  I will cry, and I will suffer.  But I will not be lost in it.  I will experience it, it will wash through me, and I'll continue on.  The pain won't be dragged with me through time; I'll leave it where it was.

Perhaps this doesn't seem like a big difference.

Before and after enlightenment, there is still pain.

Yet, afterward, the pain is only new.  The old pain is sloughed off, like the dead thing that it was.  Pain is much easier, much less... painful ...  when it is only a new wound you are dealing with and not old battle injuries.

The difference is mammoth.

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