Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Way Through

How emotional pain and suffering can be used as a catalyst to make us more conscious and can be seen in a positive light to get us to where we need to be.

Pain and suffering do not last forever.  They can't as it's impossible, once we realize what is at the root.  What causes pain?  What causes suffering?  I am, of course, referring to emotional pain.  Both of these conditions rely on an ego.  They need some sort of defined image or idea about what life should look like.  A simple definition of pain would be when life does not match my own idea of it.  Suffering, then, is the ongoing, repetitive attempts to make life fit into my ideas about it.

This also helps explain why we can also see pain as attempting to push or pull life into my idea of what it should look like.  Let's just say that I am depressed, then I want to drink some alcohol.  The problem isn't that I am depressed, but, rather, that I have an idea that I should be happy.  I, then, am manipulating life to make me happy.  I am looking to something outside myself to change my state.  The same could be said about anything: watching TV, eating, shopping for new clothes or whatever it may be.

Emotional pain is actually a good thing.  Of course, it doesn't feel good.  But, what is actually happening is that it signifies a shrinking of our ego.  It is a pairing down of these images about ourselves.  We feel the pain, because the idea of self is shrinking.  On the same token, an absence of emotional pain means that one has a small or almost non-existent ego, but, more commonly, that one has blockages that prevent that person from feeling this pain.

This is why, as counter-intuitive as this seems, pain should actually be embraced, rather than run from.  The myth, the way it feels at the time, is that emotional pain will last forever.  It is this myth that keeps us avoiding facing any pain.  The only way to avoid pain is to run from it.  You can quickly see that this is a vicious cycle.  If we are running from emotional pain, we are not acting in a conscious manner.  We are acting in a reactive manner.  As such, our motive for engaging in whatever actions we are engaging in is to avoid pain.

It is not because we actually want to do them.  Maybe we are seeking out that next relationship based on an unconscious desire to heal some pain in our lives.  As this is the motivation, you can see that we are not the ones deciding what we are doing.  The pain is.  This could be a definition of unconsciousness: when we are not consciously deciding to act but rather we are driven to it by some other motivation, such as pain.  This also gives us a peek into karma and how actions repeat themselves.  If we have unconscious motivations, they will seek out the same situations over and over again.  But, this is an entirely different topic.

Emotional pain cannot last forever because, what is actually happening, is that we are allowing the body, where we store emotional pain, to cleanse itself.  The first step, of course, is conscious awareness into what is causing the pain.  What image are we holding up that life does not match?  Is it the loss of a relationship?  The loss of a loved one?  That image was culled into our collection of images, that is, the ego, and we do not want to let go of it.  Intellectual knowledge is the first step.  Admitting that this image has to be let go of.  We have to let our ego shrink to this degree.

But, what of pain?  It seems like it is more than simply intellectual knowledge.  We feel it in our body as well.  For that image to be reinforced within us, we have had a number of emotional experiences with that image.  We loved or hated it.  We are attached to it in some way.  Emotions are stored in the body.  Even after we have intellectually decided to move on, we still feel stuck in the pain.  That is because we have to allow these pent up emotions to clear themselves.  This takes time.  But it is absolutely true that this time is finite and quicker than you may think.

In fact, all that we need to focus on is this moment.  That's all we can ever focus on anyway.  When the pain, uncomfortable emotions bubble up, rather than avoid them, send loving thoughts and energy into it.  Cradle that part of yourself that grieves the loss of this image.  But, be honest with yourself that it is nothing more than an image.  Life as it is does not currently match this image.  To move on, we have to allow the image to dissolve, to crumble in its own time.

Emotional pain and suffering are a blessing because they signify the shrinking of the ego.  It is only the running away from or the avoidance of these things that gets us into trouble.  Pain and suffering are but seasons that we pass through but avoidance of these seasons keep us perpetually stuck within these seasons.  The end goal, then, is, as our ego shrinks, as we allow life itself to slowly chip away at our ideas and thoughts of the way things should be, we become happier.  The ego itself stands in the way between us and happiness.  In fact, we are happiness itself.  Yet, these blockages prevent us fully experiencing this ever-present joy and happiness in our lives.

The happiness I am referring to is not a passing season but always beneath our everyday experience.  That is why pain is a blessing.  That is why we can embrace suffering.  So, when you feel that pain, know that it is on the path to liberation.  That going through it will actually lead to happiness, joy and love in the future.  It leads us forward on our road to fully embodying happiness and love, to complete fulfillment in our lives.


  1. Dear Tim: For me, your synopsis of pain and suffering is on the mark. If we keep an open mind, they are road signs that tell us where we have been and elicit emotions letting us know the futility of traveling there again. Kind regards, Tom Hackett.

    1. Thanks, Tom. My response is a few years late but I appreciate your feedback. My writing is usually from firsthand experience and this was a realization that I came too at that time. Writing it out helps me think it through. What's even better is that it resonated with you. Blessings :)