Pain is not Life’s way to torture you. Pain is not a tormentor. Pain does not cause you any suffering in itself. Your response to pain is what makes you suffer. By itself pain has an awakening tendency to it. When you accept it, you will awaken and not suffer. When you reject it, resist it, you will feel tortured and will wallow in grief.
To be sure, as human beings, all of us have an equal and natural ability to withstand any amount of pain. It is in acceptance that our levels vary and, therefore, so does, inversely, our suffering.
I recently heard the story of a lady__someone we know__who married a second time. It was a second marriage for both parties concerned. The lady has a daughter from her first marriage. Unfortunately, this second marriage too didn’t work well for the lady. She has been abused and victimized by her husband. They don’t live in India and this makes matters daunting because there are several legal implications of a separation and settlement. But she fights on resolutely for her rights as a wife, and for those of daughter’s, who had been legally adopted by her husband at the time of their marriage. Her basic existence is in question and it is a daily battle for survival. But she’s stoic and inspiring. She feels that while it is still difficult for her to come to terms that for the second time around her marriage has failed, on the other hand, she realizes that only her facing up to the situation can help her walk out and free with her honor and her settlement intact. She seemed to me to be someone who is undoubtedly in enormous pain but who may not be suffering anymore. And that, I believe, may be because she’s not resisting her pain, but may have accepted it!
Pain is a great teacher. A brilliant coach. When pain affects us, physically or emotionally, it shocks us out of our comfort zone. It shakes us awake from our stupor. Without a wakeup call, there will be no awakening. So, we must be grateful to pain than hating it. The other day I accidentally drank some hot soup. It was very, very hot. Because the first contact I made with it, scalded my lips and tongue, I put the soup down to cool before I had the rest of it. The first contact, the shock, reported to me that it was hot. Yes the scalding was painful. But the pain, the shock, made alert. It made me focus on the temperature of the soup for as long as I drank it. This is how pain works. It alerts you. Alertness means mindfulness. It means awakening and awareness. The awareness you get through pain, when you accept it, and not resist it, transforms your entire being. It cleanses you. And makes you understand the true nature of Life.
When everything is going fine, when you keep getting all that you want, you do settle into a comfort zone. The comfort zone spawns ruinous habits at times or makes you develop an ego, makes you arrogant perhaps or simply makes you a laggard, a dullard. But in a comfortable scenario, if pain is introduced__maybe someone dies or you lose your job or someone betrays your trust or your health suffers a serious setback__you wake up with a start! You begin to examine your Life closely. If you ask “why me?” and grieve, the pain will continue to haunt and torture you. But if you accept the pain, and ask “what can I learn from the moment”, from the experience, the pain may still be there but your ability to deal with it goes up phenomenally.
Look at your own Life. Haven’t you already withstood an unbelieveable amount of pain? Perhaps you have suffered a lot of it too. It may also be possible that you currently are going through a painful phase that’s testing your tolerance limits beyond your own imagination. If that were indeed so, stop looking at pain as a tormentor. Accept it instead as a teacher. And watch your suffering immediately disappear even as you learn from your painful situation! Remember pain comes into your Life only to awaken you, not to cause you any suffering. When you are awake, when you are aware, the suffering always disappears.