The Bitter with the Sweet


There is no easy way around this one.  As much as we may try to protect ourselves, or others from it, Pain is a part of life.

Pain can take many forms.  Whether small injustices or annoyances to major life altering tragedies and traumas, they come and go through the stages of life.

Pain can be part of the human condition through the natural experience of life, relationships, and all the changes that come.  I know in my own history, when I have tried to avoid, or sweep under the rug, something hurtful or something I was afraid of, pain seemed to stay with me longer.  When I deflected it, didn’t deal with it, or resisted acknowledging it, feelings of anger, fear, frustration and sadness persisted into a painful suffering that I could feel in my body, mind and spirit.

In another example, Pain can be part of a physical experience.  I stub my toe, I fall and get hurt, I slam my finger in a drawer.  It can come as little upsetting things that build up in our minds.  How can I try an remain calm in these situations?  Is there a small lesson to learn from even these acutely painful situations?

What about the inevitable life situations that will bring a great deal of suffering to my life?  Will I have the strength to accept it?

One of the givens in David Richo’s “The Five Things We Cannot Change” is that, no matter how big or small, pain is a part of life.  Here are a few excerpts from Chapter 4, which touches on the topic.


From page 47:

We suffer physically, psychologically, and spiritually and we grow in those same ways.  Suffering seems to be an ingredient of growth during every phase and on every threshold of our development.


From page 46:

We all have to face pain, and when we experience it mindfully, we simply feel it as it is.  When we add the ego layers, the mindsets of fear, blame, shame, attachment to an outcome, complaint or obsession, we make things worse.


From page 49:

It is said of pain that we will never be given more than we can bear.  An adult has accepted the given that no one is up there making sure of this.  Indeed, Jung says: “Sometimes the divine asks too much of us.”  What we can bear is directly proportional to the inner strength and resources we have gathered in the course of life.


From page 56:

Mindful presence means that one person enters the interior garden of the other and walks through it without trampling any of the flowers, without blaming anyone for the presence of weeds, with great appreciation for all the time, pain and growth it took to be the way it is.


From page 62:

…it is a given of life that at times we will feel isolated and unreal.  We will feel lost and bewildered.  Thoreau’s life presents a natural metaphor.  He considered wandering aimlessly in the woods as a spiritual practice: “Not till we are lost… do we begin to find ourselves and realize where we are…”


We do fall apart.  That is a given.  Our mindful yes is how we live through it.  The proper etiquette of the void is not getting back in control but simply sitting in the dark.  This takes trust and humility.  Trust means believing that this would not be happening if it were not meant to help us grow.  Humility means accepting reality with no attempt to outsmart it.


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