The next time you experience any kind of pain — an irritation, a flash of anger, a twinge of resentment — you can do something that will turn it into a new and different experience. Inner-life master and author Vernon Howard explained an amazing method… he wrote that when the pain comes, we are not to think about the pain as we always do. Instead, we are to do something different, and that is to say, “I don’t understand the pain.” Each time you catch a pain, admit that you don’t understand it. You thought you did. You believed it was caused by another person or some event that thwarted you. As a result of those beliefs, you did many things to get rid of the pain, but it always came back. So now, admit that your beliefs may be all wrong, and simply say, “I don’t understand the pain.”
This amazing method works by changing our fundamental relationship with both the pain and the Truth that can set us free from it. It means that we see that we’ve fought one losing battle after another with the pain, none of which has done anything to resolve it. We know our failure was due to our complete misunderstanding about the pain. So, now we will do nothing about it. In essence, by turning our pain over to the Truth, we’re asking the Truth to show us the facts about our pain, which is the same as inviting Reality to rid us of it. And it will.
What a relief. Now we don’t have to pretend anymore that we’re wise or strong. Now we’ve turned the pain over to the right department and it can be handled by something other than our old, pain-based solutions. What an amazing revelation this is! It puts us in the right relationship with Truth. When we tried to handle everything on our own, everything we did perpetuated the pain. All we succeeded in doing was fueling its life with our own. Now we don’t want to do that anymore, but we know that our old mind doesn’t know any other way to respond to the challenges we meet each day. So, we stop making the familiar response and just go silent. We turn it all over to Truth. It alone can show us that we never had to do anything about the pain because it never had anything to do with who we really are.
So, for now, just remember this: admit that nothing you’ve ever done has brought you the peace you say you want. The pain always returns. Therefore, maybe you don’t really understand its cause as you thought you did. To find out the truth, just stop doing everything the way you have been, and instead simply say in full honesty, “I don’t understand this pain.” Then wait for the exciting revelations that Truth will show you. Don’t listen to the false voices that try to accuse you of taking the easy way out. It’s just the opposite. We take real responsibility for our pain when we stop trying to deal with it in the old way, and instead try to understand it in a new way… [to be concluded in tomorrow’s blog]
It takes little effort to see how much we suffer. Look at people’s faces, or read the newspaper. Everywhere people’s hearts ache. Yet if you ask most of them about their own lives, they will lie about their confusion and unhappiness. “No, I don’t have any pain in my heart,” they will say. “Look at how full my life is, look at all the people around me, look at all my plans to get even more.”
Unless we accept the reality of our lives, nothing will change. We all have the same suffering, anger, doubt, anxiety over the future, and regret over the past. The specific ghosts that haunt us are particular to our own experience, but we all feel the same shakiness. We work hard to hide this from ourselves and others. We put forward our own masks and believe in those of others. We point to people who seem to have their lives in order and say, “Look at old Charlie. He’s doing great. He never loses his temper, and look at how successful he is.” No one wants to see that Charlie goes home at night and drinks to forget himself, or buries himself in the television; that he cruelly torments himself and his family in ways so subtle that no one recognizes it for what it is.
One way we preserve our masks is to avoid taking responsibility for our pain by finding some outside cause to explain it. We blame our depression on someone’s thoughtless remark, or the weather. We justify our anger by pointing to someone else’s careless stupidity. We never question the necessity of the reaction in the first place, let alone wonder whether the feeling might have been there all the time, and just emerged when conditions gave it an excuse to surface.
Is psychological pain necessary, or can we reach a place within ourselves that is beyond the reach of all punishing reactions? Are we meant to suffer from a ceaseless inner war whose struggles profit none, or is there a higher meaning to life — one that makes everything make sense? The answer to these questions is yes. Absolutely yes! And if you are sincere about questions such as these, and want the higher life more than you want to “win” wars, there is something you can do to start receiving the genuine answers that lead to complete inner victory, and you can start by doing something completely new with your old pains… [to be continued]
The True Self never asks, “What’s the use?” The True Self never complains about anything, because that nature is in a relationship that is continually completing itself anew every instant. It doesn’t carry with it any of these ideas, images, icons, ideologies with it by which to know itself. It’s living in a vast, dynamic relationship with Life itself. That Life itself is fulfilling itself, and when one is living like that, it isn’t a question of “What am I going to get?” or “What might someone take from me or any of the things that the mind occupies itself with to make what is essentially meaningless into something highly meaningful in order to re-establish their kingdom so that they can go through the whole fear cycle one more time! A person has to get weary of that.
A person has to absolutely see the impossibility of pleasing fear, and how as long as they do that, they are living from a nature that has defined itself by things outside of itself, by relationships exterior to itself that it fears will change.
As long as you fear change, you’ll resist it. As long as you resist it, you’ll never learn from it. As long as you never learn, you’ll never grow. As long as you never grow, your understanding will never be a part of this vast treasure of your True Self.