PAIN AND SUFFERING IN LIFE: –
There is a difference between physical pains, which is a physiological process, and suffering, which is our mental and emotional response to the pain. So the question arises – can finding, an underlying purpose and meaning behind our pain modify our attitude about it? And can a change in attitude lessen the degree to which we suffer when we are physically injured?
There is no doubt that our attitude and mental outlook can strongly affect the degree to which we suffer when we are in physical pain. Let’s say, for instance, that two individuals, a construction worker and a concert pianist suffer the same finger injury, while the amount of physical pain might be the same for both individuals, the construction worker might suffer very little and in fact rejoice if the injury resulted in a month of paid vacation which he or she was in need of, whereas the same injury could result in intense suffering to the pi- anist who viewed playing as his or her primary source of joy in life.
Pain begins with a sensory signal – an alarm that goes off when nerve endings are stimulated by something that is sensed as dangerous. Millions of signals are sent through the spinal cord on the base of the brain. These signals are then sorted out and a message is sent to higher areas of the brain telling of pain. The brain then sorts through the prescreened message and decides on the response. It is at this stage that the mind can assign value and meaning to the pain and intensify or modify our perception of pain.
We convert pain in to suffering in the mind.
To loosen the suffering of pain, we need to make a crucial distinction between the pain of pain and the pain we create by our thoughts about the pain. Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness, and helplessness are all mental and emotional responses that can intensify pain. So, in developing an approach to dealing with pain, we can of course work at the lower levels of pain perception, using the tools of modern medicine such as medications and other procedures, but we can also work at the higher levels by modifying our outlook and attitude.
It is our suffering that is the most basic element that we share with others, the factor that unifies us with all living creatures.