How can I understand Pain?
Pain is nature’s way of telling us to slow down. If we take pain as something we should not endure, then we end up inventing suffering and misery for ourselves. For example, if my leg is paining, my body is telling me to go slow and walk less because I have gone too far and I need to rest it. But if I say that instead of walking, let me swim because it will be easier on my leg, then I have created misery.
Because we don’t want to accept pain, we take a tablet so that we do not experience discomfort. But this way, we are interfering in the way of the natural scheme of things. For example, when I sprain my ankle, it swells up. So I put my foot up and pack it with ice. The swelling goes down, and then I make a visit to the doctor who puts a cast to mend it. The swelling was nature’s cast to immobilize the ankle. The day the swelling goes down, nature is telling me that I am now ready. But I take away nature’s cast and go to the doctor and put an artificial cast and feel good about it.
We all have the same tolerance for pain; what varies is the acceptance of that pain. For example, a housewife who has a husband and children to take care of. She wakes up in the morning and has a backache but she knows that she has to prepare breakfast and send the children off to school and her husband off to work. So she endures the backache; she accepts the pain with equanimity and goes about her work. On the other hand, if the husband wakes up with a backache, he might say that he will skip going to work because his back is hurting. The wife may be experiencing more pain than the husband in terms of dells (unit of pain), but her acceptance of the pain is what varies from the man.
The best way to understand pain is to allow nature to take its course.