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Pain or Suffering : An Intelligent Choice March 1, 2013

Posted by Shahir in Life.


“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding; and you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief” wrote Kahlil Gibran in “The Prophet”.

We see many around us in pain; we see many around us suffering. What we often fail to see is the difference between the pain they endure as a natural phenomenon of existence and the suffering they chose as a conscious choice in life.

Pain is inevitable; many things we face in life can inflict pain on us – either influenced through a foreign substance disturbing the status-quo of our body or an internal imbalance causing a disturbance to the functioning of our system. A thorn piercing our feet cause pain; on a fine morning as we wake up we might realize our eyes are swollen and it’s causing pain too. These fluctuations in sensation that we call pain are a truth of life – inevitable.

Suffering is a choice; to suffer is to feel or bear with disagreeable effects; dictionary has in it another definition of ‘to allow’; it is an allowance we give ourselves through a decision we make, a choice from a basket of options we have in life, an unnecessary allowance. How a friend treated you a few years back or a loss of share in the stock-market or a twist in your career might have caused ‘pain’ at that moment. That pain is inevitable to the nature of cause – a normal response of our system to an incident of that kind from a person you trust or a possession you held so dear or a dream you kept so high. Thinking about it years after, today, and feeling painful transforms that sensation to a different dimension – that’s suffering. That suffering is a choice. You are oscillating to a dead moment in the past and breathing life to it, inhaling its toxic emotions and becoming intoxicated and derailing from your path that otherwise leads otherwise to success.

Acceptance leads us to the liberation. If you are wearing a suit and it suddenly happened to rain, raindrops falling on your suit, you suffer from the awareness that your suit will be damaged and with the thoughts of how you will get to a shade! The friction causes suffering, and the after-thoughts that follows. A child playing in that rain, or a young couple in the beach walking in the rain ‘accepted’ that moment as inevitable, and they do not go through that friction, but in that acceptance they rather enjoy the pleasantness of that moment. Should you in a flip of time decide to walk in that rain and not allow the thoughts of damaging your suit or possible illness infiltrate your logic, perhaps you too would have enjoyed it the same manner, attain that liberation. In acceptance, we are liberating the friction of battle that take place in our mind caused by the discrepancy of reality and expectations – or our perception of what life should be, than what it is.

Our pain is in this moment – a cut, a bruise, a headache, a heart-break! That’s inevitable. But our sufferings are connected to a glorious moment in the past or a dream of the future, or a dark moment in the yesteryears or a bright hope in an uncertain future. Most of what we suffer is the pain of leaving behind something in the past or the friction of designing the skeleton of an uncertain future – a future that can’t be reached if ‘now’ is not lived to its fullest!

In a world where the powerful and the manipulative minds and hands rule the roost, in a world where the formal mechanisms of governance itself water the roots of terrorism in different disguise, we are offered with reasons in abundance to suffer – the news we watch, the stories that unfold, the helplessness we live with to influence, so on and so forth. It becomes only an intelligent choice before us then to have an awareness of the ‘now’ and accept its inevitability, that, in that acceptance we realize that this is all what it can be, a thought that will fail to disturb the inner peace and the balance.


First published on 16 April 2012



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