Pain is a necessary survival mechanism. People with congenital analgesia don’t feel pain and are at risk of bleeding to death from cuts and gashes This causes anxiety and pain to their loved ones, as the mother of a child with this condition states:
“Some people would say that’s a good thing. But no, it’s not. . . . Pain’s there for a reason. It lets your body know something’s wrong and it needs to be fixed. I’d give anything for her to feel pain.”
Suffering, however, is strictly a mental decision we make, driven by fear. The mother is suffering because of her fear of what will happen to her child. Fear is the major component of suffering. I realized this when I was going through childbirth. When I took the fear out of the situation, the “pain” was transmuted into a very strong sensation but not an agonizing one full of terror.
We can embrace pain as a protective feature in our biological survival. Then we can turn to the enlightened masters who have shown us the way out of suffering. For example, the Buddha’s life’s work was to show the path away from suffering. He lays it all out simply:
Give up suffering, give up desire (resisting what is and looking to the future for fulfillment).
The Buddha realized that during their journey through life, humans suffer through old age, sickness, separation from loved ones, poverty, unhappy situations, upsetting people, sorrow, and grief.
According to him, the basic cause of suffering is "the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)".
He tells us to liberate our minds from attachment and free them from troubles and worries. We can still desire to create good things and plan for the future but just don’t be attached to the outcome. Rather, be joyful in the present moment, adhere to his Eightfold Path and don’t fret about the future, which is out of your control anyway.
The Buddha’s Eightfold Path consists of these practices:
- Right view
- Right resolve
- Right speech
- Right conduct
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right meditation and union with your Higher Self