Serendipity landed two e-mails from very different sources in my e-mail box this morning, but addressing the exact same subject: dealing with the challenge of pain. As you can see from the quotes, the ‘pain’ referred to is not just the physical sort, but the psychological kind, which can be as challenging to deal with as the physical pain, if not more so. The first quote is from a Buddhist source we often quote from on this website, the rich resource of the Tricycle.com website for the Buddhist magazine. The other comes from a resource I recommend to you, the Farnam Street blog, which continually drops telegrams of insight into my e-mail box, culled from a rich variety of articles, blogs and books. Today’s Farnam Street clipping is not avowedly Buddhist, but it could be, in spirit. Click the links for the source article and a longer read. Read the Tricycle article soon as they ungate their articles for a day or two and then they disappear behind a pay-wall (although if you ‘e a serious Buddist practitioner, an online membership at Tricycle.com will enrich your practice). | douglas imbrogno
TRICYCLE.COM: When Pain Happens to Us
“We suffer because we marry our instinctive aversion to pain to the deep-seated belief that life should be free from pain. In resisting our pain by holding this belief, we strengthen just what we’re trying to avoid. When we make pain the enemy, we solidify it. This resistance is where our suffering begins.”
– Ezra Bayda, “When It Happens to Us”
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FARNAM STREET: When we encounter pain, we are at an important juncture in our decision-making process.
It is a fundamental law of nature that to evolve one has to push one’s limits, which is painful, in order to gain strength—whether it’s in the form of lifting weights, facing problems head-on, or in any other way. Nature gave us pain as a messaging device to tell us that we are approaching, or that we have exceeded, our limits in some way. At the same time, nature made the process of getting stronger require us to push our limits. Gaining strength is the adaptation process of the body and the mind to encountering one’s limits, which is painful. In other words, both pain and strength typically result from encountering one’s barriers. When we encounter pain, we are at an important juncture in our decision-making process.
Most people react to pain badly. They have “fight or flight” reactions to it: they either strike out at whatever brought them the pain or they try to run away from it. As a result, they don’t learn to find ways around their barriers, so they encounter them over and over again and make little or no progress toward what they want.
— Ray Dalio