There is a quote that says “Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional”. This adage is often misattributed; I’ve read author Haruki Muakami, or perhaps Buddha himself, among others. The source of this painful beatitude given many names, as the source of suffering is often misattributed and projected onto something untrue.
That the author of those words, is (after a fashion) anonymous, gives the quote a higher meaning. I could search the origin, and locate who said it first, but I prefer to let it remain a mystery. The differing opinions thrown around regarding the source become, to me, part of the passage itself. Everyone has their own source of pain, and their own opinion on suffering.
This is a mystery that I prefer to keep untouched. Wondering who said it first, left in the dark and suffering; I could guide you to the source to help ease your burden but only you can stop the suffering. As a leather-bound pill-peddler once told some ONE “I can show you the door, you’re the one that has to walk through it.” Well Morpheus once gave me a dream. The sweetest dream that I’ve ever seen. A life beyond the door that is suffering free. Wake up Mr. Sandman.
When everything hurts and pain takes over, how can we stop the suffering? Where is the line drawn in the space between pain and suffering. Former usually causing the latter, though that is not always entirely true. Each are unique, and separate entities.
Pain is in the moment. It happens right now. Physically; Grab a sheet of paper and slice your finger (Please DON’T hurt yourself for illustrative purposes), and that feeling that appears instantly is painful. it cannot be stopped. It will come at once in the moment. The pain is an alarm clock that is set to go off at any time, so long as the time is Now. You are alive, you will fall down and skin your knee, and it will hurt. The torn skin inflamed, as your body reminds you that everything is not as it’s supposed to be.
Or if you’re anything like me, being incredibly clumsy, you will take a step in the right direction, only to stub your toe. Shouting obscenities at the stairs that aren’t supposed to be there, taking residence in the space where your toe was going to be. (Stairs win. Toe jammed against the wood). Eventually, the skin heals, and the toe decides to move on with it’s life and being the bigger piggie, just walks away. At some moment, the pain may flee.
Some lives are eternal pain, a torment like a torrential downpour unending. Living in a burning painful hell. Their bones are brittle, diseases wracking their systems, their nerves working overtime to deliver the painful messages to the brain “Everything still hurts, the back pain hasn’t come back… it just never left.” Don’t shoot the messenger, it’s your bodies way to keep you safe. Life is unreliable, and some unfortunate souls find themselves in a carbon-based painful life-formed cell.
All you can do for these souls is offer them comfort, however you can.
Pain is in the moment, it is a response to something outside of control. It is unavoidable. How that pain is dealt with is the decision we can make.
Suffering is worse than pain. It holds more people back, ends more lives prematurely, kills more dreams than any pain could do. Suffering is worse, because it is all in the mind. an illusion you create. It can be as powerful as you perceive it to be. Surrender all your control to the suffering, and it takes over your world completely. Suffering more often than not does come from pain.
A bastard child, born deformed and already dying. Suffering in vain. Why let it suffer, the outcome won’t change, put an end to it’s misery and let it sleep in grace.
Pain hurts, we seek to avoid it. Suffering kills our souls, yet we only try to hide it. Suffering is the monster under the bed in the dead of night. You know it isn’t there, but unable to sleep you still remain scared. Suffering can be caused by our fear. We experienced something painful once, and in an endeavor to avoid it again, we hold on to the pain. The pain long since gone, healed away; what we now hold onto is an illusion of pain. Something not real. We carry it with us, so that we might recognize and avoid what may cause us more pain. Funny then that when the illusion of suffering becomes our world, everything seems painful and we avoid all.
Suffering is over. Suffering is done. Yet we want to suffer, because if we are suffering nothing can hurt us. Because you are not doing anything, beyond suffering.
I haven’t much spoken of emotional pain, only physical. Perhaps I will get into that in depth another time. For now, I will say…Emotional pain, the shock at hearing a loved one has died, the immediate feeling of being dejected and rejected after your significant other leaves you. Emotional pain sucks. As it sucks the well of your happiness dry. Emotional pain happens in the moment, as is much easier to create suffering, more closely linked to the world of illusions. Easier to blur the lines between them.
The cause of the pain is out of your control. What you do with it is all yours to decide. The thing about emotional pain, due to our capability to empathize, it is something that doesn’t have to be yours alone. A friend has a tattoo from his time in the military. I quote, another mystery I give to you on the source of the words. Over his heart it says “Pain Shared is Pain divided.”
If you hurt, I encourage all to speak with someone about it. If you have no one to speak to, you can always speak to me. I’m listening, and I will carry some of your pain.
I never really answered the question; does emotional pain exist, or is it just another form of suffering? I let you ponder that. I would love to hear thoughts and opinions in the comments.
Pain is unavoidable. When you fall down and skin your knee that is painful. Suffering is staying down, because if you get up, you might fall down and hurt yourself again. After you hurt yourself, do you get up, no matter how much it hurts, or do you stay down to wallow in past pain long gone, and fearful of future pain that might never come.
In the end, You cannot control when you will fall. And you WILL. Pain is inevitable. Staying down, or getting up, that choice is yours. Suffering is Optional. What will you choose? I cannot choose for you. I can only show you the doors. Only you’re the one that can walk through. The choice is yours, Pick Door number One, or Pick Door number Two.