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The True Nature of Pain and Suffering

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(This blog post is translated into Portuguese here.)

Being alive in a human form is often an experience filled with difficulties. We struggle and suffer and rarely just feel all right with the world and ourselves. What is the source of this sense of difficulty? Is it pain? What is pain and discomfort? How do we know we are experiencing the difficulty of pain or a lack of ease? Is pain a particular sensation or can a whole range of sensations be painful? What does it mean to suffer?

Every moment is full of a symphony of sensations, thoughts, feelings. Take a moment just to experience how much is happening right now, sounds, sights, tactile sensations, smells, internal sensations, thoughts, feelings, pressure, desire or longing. It is impossible to even compile a list of everything you are experiencing in this very moment because there is so much. And all of it is constantly changing into a new set of sensations, thoughts and feelings.

Along with the raw sensations and random thoughts filling the moment, there is often an internal reaction to the experience we are having. Most of the time we are internally busy with a rejection of or attempt to manage the experience we are having. This internal activity is effortful and requires a tensing and pushing, either literally against something that is present, or internally against a subtle experience. And it is this internal efforting that is the true source of all of our pain and suffering.

This is good news as it means that no sensation by itself can cause us to suffer. We have to resist or struggle with it for it to become painful. And if we simply allow awareness of the sensation we are having to be here fully, the suffering or pain is gone.

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