Love > Pain by Tim Torres, Prayer Chaplain, the Treasurer of our Board of Trustees
This Sunday I’m blessed to be able to give the message at UCSA. I’ll be talking about choosing our pain. And after the message we will experience creative power at the intersection of love and pain – through a Tonglen meditation.
I searched my file of posts … I write about pain periodically … 24 posts in my file. This Sunday I’ll be approaching the subject from a different angle, but here are some highlights from my regular Sunday post on Facebook:
The oldest in my file is from April, 2015:
Have you ever seen a child crying over something that you thought was just not worth crying about? Suffering is relative. I know I look back at times in my life and think, “wow, why did I get so upset over that?” I’m a bigger person now; pain has to be much bigger for me to notice it. I know my pains are small. I imagine I can be bigger still, and all the pain of this world as nothing to me. Can a finite pain even register to an infinite mind?
From August, 2015:
Pain is a part of life. We all experience it. We will experience it again. The important question: how do we respond to it? Do we hide or separate ourselves from it with distance or walls? Or do we let it be, suffer through it? I don’t think there’s one right answer for each circumstance. For every pain, there’s a time to escape it, and a time to face it. If the pain is physically, mentally, or emotionally disabling, then escaping it can be a wise short-term response. If it is manageable, then facing it can be liberating. But too often in life, I think, we try escape our pain when we would be better off facing it. We fear pain beyond its true power over us. We underrate its true value to us.
From September, 2015:
Charles Fillmore reportedly said, ”Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” We experience pain; that is a material reality. But our experience of pain is greatly subjective. What we think about our pain creates our suffering. I have all but excised the word “should” (among others) from my lexicon, and I find that I suffer less. Still, painful events happen.
In a sense, suffering might be one of the reasons we came here. If we are eternal spirit, then we exist outside of time. And if we exist outside of time, why would we enter time in this world unless it was to experience all that is, including suffering? We cannot experience it any other way. And it is good. It must be. If, in an awareness of wholeness and perfection, from our vantage point outside of time, with all of time laid out before us, we made the choice to experience life in this world, knowing that we would suffer, knowing we would see others suffer, then life, with all it entails, must be good.
Losing a loved one is painful, and usually involves suffering. With the loss of a loved one, it’s normal to choose to suffer, to sit in the pain and give vent to our sense of loss. It might be insane not to. Some of our beliefs about that suffering might be insane: that things “should be” other than they are, that our suffering comes from outside of us, that those thoughts that create our suffering are the only Truth, that we have no choice.