Redefining Pain

By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 03-06-2010

Pain is
inevitable. A child is born into the world in the midst of pain. The death
rattle indicating one’s end of life is not pleasant. In between life and death
there is a long series of emotional and physical pain. In fact intense joy is
impossible without intense pain as a high mountain peak is impossible without a
low valley. Higher the peak lower the valley. Socrates, Christ, Gandhi, Martin
Luther King – all were killed for the cause they believed in. Nelson Mandela
spent 27 years in a harsh prison before he became the first president of his
free country. The pain suffered by these great historical figures were
undeserved and unsought. Often pain is the price we pay for our growth, the
values we stand for. As gold in fire we get purified in pain. Our true mettle
is shown in pain. By accepting unavoidable pain, we can make it work for us.
While we may not experience cure we can certainly experience healing. 

father wanted to protect his princely son from pain and suffering, and made
various plans in his palace to shield him from pain. But Siddhartha who
eventually became Buddha (enlightened) broke loose from the contrived
arrangements, and came face to face with pain and sorrow. He then spent his
entire life finding an ingenious and unparalleled solution to unavoidable pain
and sorrow for the entire humanity. He stated that desiring what cannot be
attained leads to unhappiness. To stop unhappiness one needs to stop desiring
what one cannot attain. But then desiring to stop what cannot be attained is
itself a desire that can lead to unhappiness. So desire only what can be
attained, not any more not any less. Is it possible to reach this fine balance?
Buddha proposed his eight-fold path of right view, right intention, right
speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and
right concentration so all can end their suffering and become Buddha like
himself. Jesus Christ, the greatest exponent of pragmatic non-violent love
(ahimsa) told his disciples to offer their right cheek when someone strikes on
the left (Matthew 5, 38) and “to love your enemies, to do good to those who
hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6, 27
&28)”. He made suffering salvific. 
Christ essentially exhorted his disciples to accept suffering for a
cause with resignation rather than retaliate. Gandhi said if we followed the
law of talion: an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth, the whole world will
become blind and toothless. Gandhi put into practice the teachings of Christ,
and suffered willingly and bravely to win India freedom without bloodshed. Pain
and suffering creatively channeled have a redeeming value par excellence.

About The Author

Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti

Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.