The Purpose of Pain
When we say someone has a "tender heart" it is meant as a good thing.
When I have a tender muscle, it hurts.
A tender heart must be prone to pain.
Then why would I want a "tender heart?"
If you read two posts ago when I posted "On Love" from "The Prophet," it is quite clear. My most recent post was a reaction to Kahlil Gibran's words.
He makes it clear that it will hurt. And yet, without the full ability to love, we live a miserable life.
So what do we do with the pain? I don't drink, do drugs, or watch TV to suppress pain, which are common strategies, so my options are limited.
For me, when I am not careful, I shut pain out with anger. When I am careful, I trust that pain has a purpose and focus on learning the lessons from pain with introspection and reflection. Thankfully, I'm training to remember the faith I have, to trust, much more often. I spent much of my life angry, and with conscious effort and work less and less I am angry, especially when it's a better time to feel the pain and be with a "tender heart." I still turn to anger now and then, some is productive some is counter-productive. It still happens, and it's still hard work, but less and less so after these nine years of effort.
If there is a purpose to pain, then in that case, a "tender heart" is useful.
The ultimate purpose of pain and suffering:
“The greatest wisdom of the world is acquired by the quiet and endurance of pain and suffering; this creates wisdom in the next incarnation. " - Rudolf Steiner
“All true understanding is born of pain and sorrow. Without suffering, without suffering a great deal and having thereby become free from that element in pain one cannot come to know and understand the spiritual world.” -Rudolf Steiner
"Woe to those who live without suffering. Stagnation and death is the future of all that vegetates without change. And how can there be any change for the better without proportionate suffering during the preceding stage? Is it not those only who have learnt the deceptive value of earthly hopes and the illusive allurements of external nature who are destined to solve the great problem of life, pain, and death? Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol II
"Never to suffer would have been never to have been blessed." Edgar Allan Poe
Anger is so commonly what we turn to when we feel pain.
Anger keeps the pain away.
I know, because I've been hurting a lot lately, and I get sick of it. So, sometimes I watch my mind get angry and it says: "I don't want to be hurt anymore. This sucks. Listen to some electric guitar, Sandy, and sing Queen songs and forget him. Sing some power songs. You don't need him, or anyone for that matter. Not the people who use angry words towards you, not the people who want something from you, not even the people who want to love you. Alone is the right road. What a jerk for leaving me...Stay alone, speak to no one..." and on and on and on.
Anger expresses itself. It feels like sometimes we have no control over it. I do my best to extinguish the name-calling that takes place in my mind upon first notice. Deeper inside of me than my ego, I know that my ego is trying to feel superior and separate. The better part of me knows those old ego tricks and puts a stop to it.
Anger helps us feel separate and superior to others, and there begins the descending sleigh down the slippery slope to a hellish mind. I'm not looking to live in hell. I'm walking in bliss, I just need to see it at all times, and the heart-mind is the key to that beautiful home.
Attacking others, with name-calling or angry language mentally or verbally straight to them, masks pain. I do this so infrequently these days, and mostly cry instead... a lot. A lot. But still, it happens, especially when I see my ex-husband reverting to his old habits. This protective mother in me can get violent, she is a strong bear. It's hard; because anger isn't the thing that will actually help, and yet, that bear thinks so.
In fact, today, someone attacked me with her anger. I felt like I was mauled.
I cried for hours. It hurt quite badly and I think I actually had an anxiety attack before teaching the final class of the day.
I haven't felt like that in years, since I owned a food business and was in a failing marriage all at once, and life as I knew it was falling apart. Good thing it did. That wasn't the life to maintain.
Lo and behold, teaching the evening yoga class today brought me back but I did cancel a pop-up yoga class that was to take place afterward. I took myself to a movie instead. I took myself to a movie and ate popcorn alone and liked it.
(It was was the new X-Men movie, about the strong character, Jean Grey. The one-liners were perfect, and sad. Something like, "The women are always saving the men around here. Maybe it's time you change the name to X-Woman." I would've felt bad if I was a man to hear that. And as a woman, I did feel bad to hear that. The reality of the gender shifts are difficult and the transition period is requiring plenty of time and adjustment before it all makes sense.
Later, I played the singing bowls and chanted mantra for a while.
So, the pain has a purpose. Today, alone, I was learning to create boundaries yet also break them down. It was an eventful day.
What to do with pain?
Masking pain is not the right answer.
Being with my pain is the best thing I can do right now.
And as many wise ones in human history have noted, many more than those few quoted above...
pain can give birth to wisdom. I must be the mid-wife.
Who doesn't want to be wiser?