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 Blooming Stars

Acceptance of the Fact that Physical and Emotional Pain is as much part of Life as Joy

            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 lowers the valley. Socrates, Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King – all were killed for the cause they believed in. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a cruel 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.

            Siddhartha’s 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 anymore 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, that is, an eye for an eye and 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.


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