Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional
Some pain is healthy, some pain is unhealthy.
Healthy pain includes the mending process following injury, childbirth, &/or surgery.
Unhealthy pain includes chronic conditions affecting mind, muscles, joints, and organs.
Pain can be alleviated by substances consumed: a matter of outside in. These tend to be palliative, temporary, fast medicine, low degree of personal effort.
Pain can also be alleviated by internal practices: a matter of inside out. These tend to be curative, permanent, slow medicine, high degree of personal effort.
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Autumn is a time of withdrawal, harvesting, reflection, winding down after an interval of exertion. In the Five Phase scheme of Chinese philosophy (and therefore of martial arts, medicine, fengshui, etc.), autumn corresponds to Metal, to sadness/melancholy, to crying and grieving, to yin rising.
What has been born and matured is now entering into senescene, aging. One cannot ignore that death is not far away. Yang, the sun, the world of light has passed its maximum point. The autumn equinox saw light and dark in equal measure; now with each passing day the darkness waxes. Yin, the moon, the world of darkness ascends.
The period calls for clearing away old growth to make room for new growth the following spring (recalling the truth that death/winter is a necessary step in the unfolding of life). The tools of building up, creating are put away; the tools for dismantling, destroying are put to use.
The party’s winding down; lights come on in the dancehall; bar announces last call.
When we follow the natural rhythms, the natural result is a harmonious life. Where we do not follow the natural rhythms, the natural result is a disharmonious life.
Disharmonious life: relevant to this conversation, possible manifestations include: 1) chronic, persistent pain in the mind and and in the body, 2) painful relationships characterized by tension, contention, uneasy peace, acrimony, hatred, worry, mistrust, 3) literal or existential headaches/pains in the neck/pains in the ass spawned from personal disorder, mess, confusion.
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Unhealthy pain: what contributes to it? The energies of not letting go in order to make room; the energies of holding on to something which Love asks us to surrender; the energies of being slowly poisoned from within by wrong ideas; the practice of having used wrong ideas as bricks to build the structure of our lives. All of these are just different ways of expressing the same thing–and relate to the concept of clearing out (or refusing to do so) what was once useful but now is no longer useful.
To alleviate that pain in the name of cure (as opposed to palliating, which literally means to cloak, to cover up), then, what does that mean? To let go, to surrender, to dismantle a faulty structure so as to make room for a new one built with higher quality materials.
And it is precisely here where we can experience difficulty. To give up an established way is a risk. We go into a place of not knowing, of not being in control, of potentially being disappointed. The prospect of letting go brings us face to face with our trust/betrayal issues.
When we live in a faulty structure for so long, it appears that nothing is wrong with it. It appears that there is nothing to change. This perspective is complicated by our human tendency to adapt and make good with bad circumstances. But if you find yourself with chronic, persistent pain that slowly robs you of what Chinese Medicine calls the “spirit light”, then it is time to open up to the possibility that something in the quality of your process is off, in need of adjustment.
To put it another way: some forms of chronic, persistent suffering are the result of wrong ideas about holding on, controlling, “my way”, rigid insistence on “this is how it’s done”, needing to be right, not wanting to admit personal wrongdoing.
Again, the Metal season of autumn suggests clearing away, letting go of the party that was summer, winding down and reflecting on your experience, parting ways or even breaking up with a lover (and hence the season’s associations with sadness, grieving). Contravening this natural movement results in stagnation. Stagnation gives rise to agitation, tension, suffering, sorrow–unhealthy pain. Returning to the natural movement, we experience happiness, and decreasing frequency-intensity of unhealthy pain.
Rome was not built in a day, nor was it destroyed in a day. Entrenched habits are not changed in short order.
> where do you suffer from chronic, persistent, unhealthy pain in mind and body?
> does the possibility that you are the chief architect of your own life, your own fortunes, your own troubles make intuitive sense?
> the agitated, worried mind does not uplift itself just as one trapped in the quicksand does not free himself
> “The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them” –Albert Einstein
> where are you stubbornly rigid in your views, refusing to make room for other perspectives? How might this be driven by pride, self-will, and/or fear?
> where do you sense deeply within that a relationship, a lifestyle, a paradigm is outliving its usefulness and yet you continue to maintain it? What specific attachments are involved? Where does self-doubt play a role? Is there a parasite-host dynamic at play?
> where have you not properly grieved over a relationship, and instead just moved on and tried your best to forget about it?
> think about what you have created over the past few hours. what are you pleased with? what are you unhappy with? what good deeds were really tainted with selfishness?
> think about the words you have spoken over the past few hours. where have you spoken out of love, from a place of genuineness? Where have you spoken according to the rules of polite society but in reality from a place of fakeness, non-connection? where have you spoken out of anger, fear? In what ways might you have poisoned someone’s air with your own issues? Given this honesty, what does integrity look like?
> in what ways do you defy authority, doing what you want to do instead of what you need to do?
> where do you wish right now was something other than what it actually is? where do you overtly or covertly desire an earlier state of ease, comfort, happiness?
> what does it mean to reap what you’ve sown?
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There is a beauty in dying, abundantly self-evident in the changing colors of nature this time of year. But to experience it, we must be able to say clearly, this is dying away. And to honor that dying. And to honor our feelings about that dying. And to let go. And to not resist. And to trust. And to do it over and over again as Love asks of us.
Copyright (c) 2018, Justin Jaucian