Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Scheme for Pain

How does one deal with suffering? With acceptance, equanimity and a resolve to transcend it.

And attitude of anger and rejection towards suffering only intensifies the pain. Let the pain take its course. By allowing it, one finds catharsis.

A friend's wife once called me, crying. In between sobs she told how she caught her husband with another woman. She was utterly heartbroken.

I asked her whether she would forgive him, if he was repentent. She was willing, but she told me the pain was too much for her to bear. How do you make the pain go away?

I told her to let time dissolve the pain. By allowing time to do its work, pain fades away. Accept that certain things have happened and nothing one does will change or erase the fact. Allow pain to take its course. In due time it will fade away, like everything else in this world. Even love.

There's no antidote for pain. Pain has to be suffered, consciously. To suffer pain consciously means that you understand its causes, and that you have the determination to ride through all its phases, taking every lesson that it throws at you.

Only then will you understand that what you thought was love, was mere attachment. Selfish attachment. It is your need to possess something or someone so that you yourself feel more complete, more fulfilled.

We love ourselves more than anything else in this world. That is the root of all pain. We want to build an environment where we think our personal wellbeing and happiness can be guaranteed--a well-paying job, a loving partner, children who will look up to us and take care of us in our old age.

We think the rest of the world are like props on a stage that we can place wherever we choose. Then one day we realise that these props don't always remain where they are: they move. They have their own idea of "happiness". That is how pain arises.

Are we mature enough to live in a world where things don't always go according to our plan? A world where our vision of a perfect life don't always match with everybody elses? I'll end with a quote from The Dark Knight:

The Joker (played by the late Heath Ledger):

You know, they're schemers. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I'm not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are...It's the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and uh, look where that got you.

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