Physical pain

Topics related to physical, emotional and psychological forms of pain and suffering

Physical pain

Postby jamesp1013 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:22 pm

It seems to me that ET, Maharshi, Maharaj and others generally accepted as enlightened beings seem to pay very little attention to a discussion of how to deal with physical pain. Their response seems to be generally that one should accept it without resistance so as to eliminate the mental suffering associated with it, and I'm sure that helps, but only to a slight extent. It almost seems as if they'd prefer not to discuss the issue, or at least to the smallest extent possible. When they do mention it at all, their recommendations come across basically as, "Deal with it as best you can" and move on. This doesn't offer much hope to the perhaps millions of people who are seeking spiritual awakening but whose pain is occupying amost 100% of their time. Are these people to be left out in this current lifetime?
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Re: Physical pain

Postby letitgo » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:35 pm

Hello, and sorry for your pain,

Obviously, this is a difficult issue. Would you mind sharing the details of your own pain? I feel completely empathetic and would not presume to start spouting spiritual or physical techniques and possibilities without knowing a little more about your situation.

Thanks,
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Re: Physical pain

Postby jamesp1013 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:08 am

Thanks but I'm looking for a general answer and not answers for specific physical issues which of course can be addressed by doctors, psychiatrists, etc with any number of medicines or techniques. I (or my physical body) have no pain at all at present and in fact have suffered little in my lifetime. But I have been asked by several others why the teachers I mentioned barely address the subject if at all. If someone is in extreme physical pain, how can he/she concern themselves with asking "Who Am I?" for example, when 100% of their attention is devoted to coping with the pain?

Here are questions:

1. Do "enlightened" beings such as (at least presumably) Eckhard Tolle, Maharshi, Maharaj and others experience physical pain to the extent that "Non-enlightened" beings do?
2. Is someone in extreme pain denied "enlightenment" until their next incarnation?
3. Is the subject simply being ignored?

I know I sound frustrated, but I've been looking for an answer to this general question for years and don't seem any closer than ever even after reading much literature, listening to dvd's, watching videos, attending lectures, etc.

I have a great deal of respect for all of the teachers named above, but don't they owe the many questioners like myself at least some kind of answer?

Maybe they've given it...if they have I'd appreciate knowing who did and where.
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Re: Physical pain

Postby kiki » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:22 pm

1. Do "enlightened" beings such as (at least presumably) Eckhard Tolle, Maharshi, Maharaj and others experience physical pain to the extent that "Non-enlightened" beings do?


Yes. Enlightenment doesn't mean you aren't subject to all experiences of a physical body. Ramana had cancer and cried out in pain in his last days.

2. Is someone in extreme pain denied "enlightenment" until their next incarnation?


No. Anything can serve as a gateway to enlightenment, including pain. It's true that that sort of pain will divert attention onto the pain, but that doesn't mean there can't be a shift of attention back onto the source of itself. The only necessary component of enlightenment is never absent, and that is consciousness. I've had episodes of extreme pain myself and still felt the peacefulness and silence of presence beneath it.

3. Is the subject simply being ignored?


Perhaps not enough attention has been given to suit some people, but I doubt if it is deliberately ignored. I've seen answers here and there, but couldn't tell you specifically where.

I have a great deal of respect for all of the teachers named above, but don't they owe the many questioners like myself at least some kind of answer?


I suggest you keep looking if it's that important to you. I know that Adya invites questions on his live broadcasts.
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Re: Physical pain

Postby arel » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:35 pm

It's possible that they don't talk about bodily pain because they have not experiencecd it much. All they talk about is emotional pain.
You might want to seek out what ultra endurance athletes say, or elite soldiers. I notice there is mention of conciousness in many things that they talk about. I believe majority of these people are what we call "enlightened" actually. They meditate a lot :)
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Re: Physical pain

Postby smiileyjen101 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:34 am

If someone is in extreme physical pain, how can he/she concern themselves with asking "Who Am I?" for example, when 100% of their attention is devoted to coping with the pain?


I may have led a sheltered life, but I have met many who have extremely painful physical conditions, some chronic, some permanent and even fatal, but I don't think I've ever met anyone who is actually 100% in pain 100% of the time or actually devoting 100% of their attention to their pain 100% of the time.

As a long-term chronic pain sufferer I used to accept and explain to others if need be that - at times - I had less energy to put towards other things, maybe up to 95% of my energy was being directed towards managing my pain and at times I would have 5% of my energy to direct towards other aspects of my life.

Most physical pain is temporary and directly situational unless you hold onto it and kind of stretch it across moments without respect for and consideration of what is causing the pain.

When most of the Masters ask you to come to presence... it is so you can notice that actually experiencing pain 100% of the time with no relief is quite rare. Even with chronic pain some things will ease it, decreasing its intensity and at other times it will increase in intensity depending on what is happening at the source of the pain.

If you are conscious of each moment some of those moments will hold pain, others will not. What the Masters are asking you to do is not to blur one moment into the other.

The reality is pain hurts and for the most part if we accept that reality we can treat the pain, even if not the reason for it unless it is able to be cured.

But, what will cause chronic suffering related to the pain, is the story you tell yourself about it and to the degree that you define yourself by it - either resisting it or holding onto it in moments when it actually isn't manifest.

Some of the most enlightened people I have met have been those who have been able to appreciate each moment, regardless of what it contains, knowing this too will pass - even if a similar thing may come back a few moments down the track.

Maybe the Masters don't want to seem heartless by saying this out loud :wink:
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Re: Physical pain

Postby letitgo » Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:30 am

This is an interesting subject because feeling pain, in the moment, to me, specifically shows a need. Everything is supposed to be OK in this moment, but pain is not “OK”. It very specifically brings to light an area that needs attention.

There are a great deal of teachers who understand that any physical situation is a direct reflection of a spiritual condition. But it would seem that admitting that pain is unacceptable or that an illness is not what you want in this moment, is to admit that the “now” is not OK - which seems to breaks down the whole system.

That’s why I think it’s avoided in many venues. Avoided, yes. But an invalid question, no. What do you do when your now is not OK? What do you do when you need healed? What do you do when you feel pain? Physical or emotional pain needs attention.

I have my own thoughts, but would like to hear more from others.

Thanks, Letitgo
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Re: Physical pain

Postby zack » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:40 am

Pain (physical and mental) has been my doorway to liberation. It burns up ego quickly if its fully accepted. There are yogis in India that raises their left arm for 30 years just to speed up the process. Tolle talks alot about it in different retreats (Touching the Eternal (India Retreat) has always been helpful to listen to for me).
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Re: Physical pain

Postby randomguy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:49 pm

Tolle has called pain a "harsh teacher".
Do the yellow-rose petals
tremble and fall
at the rapid's roar?
- Basho
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Re: Physical pain

Postby love the magic » Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:55 pm

Physical pain, and its consequent breakdown in acceptance of now (letitgo's comment) is a serious consideration and I hope that topic keeps going (or returns).
It tops the least of avoided topics in spirituality, with sex being second (although maybe a distant second). I don't want to move the focus away to sex too much but there are similarities, in that , when either of these are present, selflessness disappears. I know there are many who would disagree with me about sex there, but for me, grasping-for and escaping-from are - like anger when it's on - simply not co-existent with living the now. With sex, it would seem to be more possible, but the increase in the intensity of pleasure closes out the possibility of anything that might interfere with it's escalation. In the case of pain, rather than selfishly narrowing the now, I'm refusing it altogether.
Like James, the originator of this topic thread, I'm not in pain at present. However, I know from experience that my toleration of pain is low - a pain in my finger does not bring me the philosophical overview that the other 99% of my body is pain free. Nausea is a good example of total occupation of attention by physical distress, and is one of the main reasons I fear cancer, or at least chemo, since nausea is a usual by-product.
Maybe people who have high tolerance to pain are, in many cases, less sensitive to life than me and I should be grateful, I don't know. But in my own case, I have the feeling it's more connected to my heightened sense of a threatened self, like a person who panics when another driver nicks the bumper of his car.
Now kiki says Ramana cried out in pain in his last days, so I'm wondering if he was able with dispassion to watch his pain - to watch his very crying - in a way I could not.
Actually, perhaps I do have some idea of that, come to think of it. When I was coming out of surgery once years ago, I had an out-of-body experience -possibly due to the kind of anesthetic used. I saw, from above, the surgeon bandaging my body quite roughly and cried out in agony. But somewhere, far inside of me, I was laughing, thinking, "What a joke!"
Who knows what Ramana felt when he was crying out in pain.
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Re: Physical pain

Postby smiileyjen101 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:29 am

lovethemagic said
Maybe people who have high tolerance to pain are, in many cases, less sensitive to life than me and I should be grateful, I don't know.
But in my own case, I have the feeling it's more connected to my heightened sense of a threatened self, like a person who panics when another driver nicks the bumper of his car.


Interesting wondering there ltm. I wonder if pain tolerance is like any other, the more you experience the reality the less you add unnecessary 'suffering' & fear stories to it that blows it out of physical proportion. Pain is in and of itself very hard to accurately imagine. Often the fear of it is worse than the reality of it.

I know for me I would rather be the one experiencing than watching another and imagining their pain.

For the one in pain if your imagination is jumping ahead the intensity becomes increasingly worse, because then it's pain + panic and possibly projection to random false futures.

So in a sense while physical pain is an opportunity to become aware, it can also be the playground of fear, projection and ego building.
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Re: Physical pain

Postby love the magic » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:22 am

Jen
Yeah, I always say I'm never afraid of shots - vaccinations and the like. They have no future. Of course, if that pain were to continue minutes instead of seconds, I'd go wild I guess (and worry about it for days before). But it in fact would be the same pain. Maybe I would I get used to even that sharp pain? Anyway, with that needle pain, I know it will end.
Now, there are pains that end less quickly and, in the case of terminal illness, may end only with death, or the last couple days before death. The thought of that may make the pain less bearable for the patient. So that means we have to be comfortable about dying - dying as the deliverer.
And then, there are those that say that pain - any pain - is the body -or the " I " identified as the body - saying, "Look out! Death coming". In which case, I guess I'm very afraid of dying, as I'm very sensitive to pain.
I wonder if I'm true to myself. If I believe what I say. When I imagine death, I may be imagining the best, most sublime, elements of the life I've experienced, but maybe deeper memories before or underlying my present incarnation.
Your posts on other threads are inspirational. They suggest my feelings of death may be based on a deep reality of peace and beauty, and not on my wishful imagination.
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Re: Physical pain

Postby smiileyjen101 » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:09 am

Your posts on other threads are inspirational. They suggest my feelings of death may be based on a deep reality of peace and beauty, and not on my wishful imagination.

As you mentioned sex as another area - Orgasm the word literally means 'little death' you lose yourself into the bliss - 'Oh God!' may be the theme song for good reason :wink:

I still say the projection and resistance to the reality of the pain is what creates the suffering. Not that I enjoy pain - (of the three conscious states) acceptance is the only sane one if you cannot relieve it.

Nausea is not exactly 'pain', definitely it's uncomfortable and yucky, messes with your insides and your head but it's not actually painful. I've found meditating eases the distress of it, particularly to wonderful music. I found one piece Dolphin Dreams on the Captain Fingers album by Lee Ritenour that is absolutely perfect for it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGcOcva-Z2o

Maybe it's somehow on the right frequency for the seasicknessy feeling.

Somehow I think facing our fears, working through them is what we're here for.
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Re: Physical pain

Postby juturna7 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:51 am

I, too, am seeking an answer to this question.

During intense pain -- for me, usually migraines -- I have done my best to practice a sense of presence, acceptance. I meditate if I can. But accepting the pain honestly doesn`t seem to HELP in any significant way at all!!! Whether I`m practicing presence or not, the agony feels the same.

Are we supposed to just accept pain whenever pain is the `now`?
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Re: Physical pain

Postby nakedsoul » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:22 pm

Maybe we're asking the wrong question ? Mental pain or anguish such as loss of a loved one or financial troubles can be overcome by a practiced control over our thought response to external events. The simple passing of time accomplishes the same thing.

Physical pain is based in our limbic system. It's a hard wired survival function. If you leave your hand in the fire too long it becomes unusable to throw a spear to get food to feed yourself and family. It's natural (in this reality) to avoid pain. It's also natural to want to overcome pain so you can get back in the forest and hunt or gather more food.

The correct question, I think is, why attempt to overcome or avoid pain ? Yes. It sounds radical. Before you start believing I have a penchant for sadism, let me tell you about an event that lasted no longer than a fraction of a second.

THE sneeze:
Several years ago I had heart surgery. It was the type where they saw your chest open, play around in there long enough to really worry your wife in the waiting room, and put it all back together. I saw the x-rays afterward and am convinced they tied my sternum together with a guitar string. Three days later while sitting in the bed and talking to my wife I felt a familiar tickle that portended a sneeze. The good folks in the hospital had given me a 'special' pillow for this event. They told me should I need to sneeze to grasp this pillow and clutch it to my chest. Ignoring that advice (typical of me), I sneezed without the pillow. Folks, the pain was absolute. It was pure. It was the most complete pain I have ever felt. I remember vaguely the color blue. The pain subsided as quickly as it had come. It left me pondering a very odd range of thoughts. I not only respected the pain, I think I may have even admired its intensity. Then I had an almost paralyzing thought. Did I enjoy that pain ? That's insane !

In the seventies, Masters and Johnson equated an orgasm with a sneeze. As one poster noted above here, in French 'orgasm' means little death. Isn't it possible with a little death, there is a birth ? I know people find comfort in the cummulative belief that the next iteration of reality is pain free, but what if that's not the truth ? If you believe that we create our own reality, then the next incarnation is what we decide. I posit that we embrace pain, not attempt to overcome it but to come over the pain. Avoidance of pain prevents us from learning what we need to know. I learned a lot from that sneeze, and am still learning from that .25 second event.

OK. Keep it quotable. Uh...er..."Seek the hidden knowledge in pain."
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