The Value of Pain

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I’ve spent about as much time as most folks dealing with pain; recently, eleven months of debilitating drugs to clear a virus from my liver.

I’ve had my bumps and bruises from engaging with life on earth.

Now, at 62, my best advice is to strive to see pain as the mother of joy.

Like most philosophical or spiritual sayings, there’s a built-in, seeming-contradiction . . .

From William Shakespeare:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

From my free-to-download poetry book:

Forebear

The chains of hollow
Imitation clasp their sterile links on
Minds so lost in routinized
Intentions even
Love can spawn but
Crimes; and,
Faithless certainties, like
Clockwork, build their
Superstitious blinds so even
Faith becomes the Devil trading
Hope for fruitless
Rinds.

From the Nobel Prize Speech of the writer William Faulkner.

“…the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed–love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.”

From a prayer by the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith:

“Thou art He Who, through a word of Thy mouth, hath so enravished the hearts of Thy chosen ones that they have, in their love for Thee, detached themselves from all except Thyself, and laid down their lives and sacrificed their souls in Thy path, and borne, for Thy sake, what none of Thy creatures hath borne.”

Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 163

3 thoughts on “The Value of Pain

  1. Namaste’! this was a touching post; funny thing you remind me of someone who could have lived back in shakespearean times. Pain can be a journey of embracing our selves, instead of fighting too hard. I meet my own with respect and humbleness. Metta.

    sky

  2. It is so good to see this piece on pain. I applaud you. I too have known intense and long term pain at times in my life. I completely know pain as a guide, healer and teacher. Of all my teachers Pain taught me the most. Then Nature. I find it disheartening at least in Santa Fe where I live that people often don’t want to see pain as a healer, a teacher and stern guide that will try over and over to push us beyond our self-imposed and limited thinking and spirituality, try to push into more profound and wise depths. I understand that pain is….PAINFUL, but we often slide it over into negative context as being unworthy fodder for growth….and it is very useful fodder for growth. Thank you very much Alex. These are such wise insights and thoughts.

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