The Value of Pain


It shows up at times where we’re thinking of others. That’s why we don’t notice its value. When we use our experiences with pain, it will be in some kind of compassionate act. To heal them is to heal ourselves when we feel that level of empathy. That is when we see another’s pain as our own. That is when we feel a sense of oneness with another person.

Let us immediately distinguish pain from suffering. Suffering is psychological and it leads to psychological pain, which is only just now becoming important for people to distinguish from physical pain. As I noted in yesterday’s post, relative to our cellular structure language is a very new creation. As a result, our body keeps reacting under the assumption that we’re in physical danger, when really we’re just worried about what someone will think of us on social media. Clearly those things should not been seen as equally important or meaningful.

While the same chemicals can get triggered, with physical pain it can take a long while to heal, whereas sincere efforts at understanding the structures of psychological suffering can quickly reduce it almost completely, and over time people can soon learn how to deeply love their own lives. But we gain access to loving it by trading away our psychological suffering in exchange for acceptance of the certainty that we will experience both physical and non-optional psychological pain.

Physical we’re already ready to accept, and to what degree we accept it is generally referred to as our pain threshold. But buying office supplies for our new job, signing our married name, imagining our life as someone different–these are all either hopeful or wildly hopeful fantasies. We’ll all do them sometimes, but that doesn’t make it wise. It just makes ego human.

There is no need nor benefit for us to spend a lot of time leaping into a made-up future to concoct expectations. We can just stay in the now, where we can actually take action to impact our future, and in doing so we become less likely to avoid causing ourselves future psychologically pain.

Non-optional psychological pain is when our circumstances have changed so suddenly and so drastically that we literally have brain wiring that just isn’t set up to manage it. It’s impossible to be someone and not take on a world view, but if you’re a soldier and you get your legs blown off, then you’re suddenly someone who needs a revised identity. Same for someone who goes broke, has a divorce, loses a job or through the death of a loved one.

The depth of our love with our loved ones relates to the level of pain we’ll experience when they die and our brain can no longer interact with them in the present. That’s why it still tries, often until death. I haven’t lost a parent yet, but I know a lot of people who still ask their deceased parents for advice all the time. They’re just wired into too much other stuff. Their beauty is that they’re literally hard to forget.

By living through very painful experiences, we become valuable to anyone else experiencing those things, and in a ways that could not be known by people who had never actually been in the same position. This is the basis of empathy: our own psychological and physical pain. And when we’ll feel its value is when we bestow our empathy on anyone whose pain we truly share. Having surrendered ourselves into a state of oneness, healing them is to heal ourselves. And that is the value of our pain.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

1D

People’s egos will read this quote by the Buddha and they will primarily imagine themselves in the role of the fool who probably already has their answers but they’re just too dumb to be able to see them. Fine, if you’re living with more ego than you want then the last part does define you, therefore it’s irrelevant to getting you where you’re going. That means it’s the first part of the statement you should be focusing on. There’s your lesson from the Buddha.

“Does the spoon taste the soup?” Where does experience happen and to whom? A body can be said to have senses but when you’re anaesthetised at the hospital they put your brain to sleep because that’s where we imagine the dance of experience takes place. The anaesthesia interrupts your thoughts and without those there is no you to have an experience. The idea of you only emerges through the duality of the body and mind, but if these are made One there is no source and no delivery. The act of acceptance isn’t to be yourself and accept or reject some other thing, it’s to lose your sense of self and become One with the experience, making the question largely irrelevant from the new perspective.

996-relax-and-succeed-if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forestThe famous philosophical question about a tree falling in a forest is also a question about duality. It doesn’t have an answer in the classical sense, instead there is an understanding  that manages to flatten the riddle by taking a 1D view over a 2D question.

It might be easier at first to imagine the tree falling and sound waves departing its location and then they strike an eardrum. You can see how sound is dependent on a duality? It is a wave until it strikes a receiver that can turn it into a “particle” of sound. But what if “you” were there but you weren’t using thought to separate yourself from reality? Can you see there could still be the experience within a state of oneness but there would be no separate parts? There wouldn’t be things happening there would just be reality. Before we divided the world with words there were no waves there was only the ocean.

The point isn’t to be smart and figure out a riddle, the point is to stop creating oneself and simply be with reality. You’re supposed to flow, not imagine yourself as a molecule of water asking another molecule of water if they know what a river is. You don’t need to know the river you need to be the river.

996-relax-and-succeed-we-all-know-that-when-we-bringTribes who still live the old ways don’t have separate senses. They don’t hear, feel, see, smell and taste life, they experience it. It is one whole to them and they too are a part of that whole. If life were a giant collage on a church floor you’d be asking about the individual pieces and the native would only see the whole. They couldn’t even discuss it as pieces because that would require a sense of separateness from the experience. They would have to leave reality to become separate enough to name the parts and then discuss their interactions with other separate people-parts. Meanwhile in reality, where everything is one, creation would still be there chugging along in the background.

It’s funny, because it’s really so remarkably simple. Little kids do this every day without ever knowing that the words and ideas that we will teach them will divide reality up enough until they’ll eventually have a separate self that they can approve or disapprove of. And I don’t think you need me to tell you about that. That often belittling self is probably what motivated you to read this in the first place. 🙂

I know Virtual Reality is currently the rage, but contrary to what’s popular I would encourage you to get yourself a 1D view on life, because that view is the one that truly sees all.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #111

 

There are two levels of response that I talk about when I work with people. One is psychological and it’s actually quite easy to understand because everyone has a psyche and what I do is uncover and expose someone’s personal logic so that they are no longer so mysterious to themselves. This is where peace of mind and the success that follows begins.

The second level is where the spiritual meets the psychological. This level is no less sensible (it’s more so), but it requires a more radical shift in understanding. Not a big shift; a surprisingly small one with a much deeper understanding of our place in the universe. This is the one where enlightenment begins, and at that point you no longer feel like a competent surfer atop a perfect board and an amazing wave–at that point you, the board and the wave are all seen as one thing.

919 FD2 Relax and Succeed - We are sacred artistsIf that seems weird, just remember a lot of remote tribespeople in the jungles of this world do not see themselves as having 5 or 6 senses, but rather one big sense. Watts hints at this in the video below when he makes the quote placed above. It is that second you–the separate you on the separate board riding the separate wave–that makes the board and the wave and the quality of the riding within itself. You create an ego and that is the story it tells you.

Watts and I are suggesting to you that if you were never encouraged to create that other idealized you then you would be One with your life and there would be no time in which a separate you felt you were making a distinct decision. You are simply in the flow. There is no time-travelling to pre or post-evaluation of a “choice.” 

That is the point of ultimate peace. When your internal narrative disappears it takes the notion of choices and mistakes along with it. The tension of those judgments is instead replaced with a relaxation and openness that permits the natural reintegration of our greater selves back into the fold of that famous moment called Now. 

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Happiness Is Where We Find It

You can’t find spiritual enlightenment or salvation by seeking it. I realize this seems ironic but it’s true. Seeking requires a form of attachment. We have to use our consciousness to imagine our future in order to pursue a goal. There is a finish line. An objective. There is winning and losing. So we know we’re functioning in ego because spirit doesn’t recognize any of those concepts. Winning and losing are mental constructs, as are finishing, goals and objectives. We know this because it’s possible for two people to both feel they have won—or both feel they have lost—in a competition with each other. This is a demonstration of how flexible human consciousness and ergo reality is.

440 Relax and Succeed - Happiness is where we find itI’m not sure if it’s apocryphal or not, but I heard a story when visiting NASA as a kid, that the reason astronauts sleep with the lights on and blindfolds on is because during the first missions when the astronauts slept in the dark, their arms would float out in front of them. They would awaken and see something floating in front of them and their brain would tell their arm and hand to move out to that spot to see what was floating there. But because the arm and the hand was what was floating out there, moving to there was impossible. Are you catching my drift? Something can’t go to where it already is. You can’t be found if you’ve never been lost.

Every soul is born a Buddha. And then you get confused. Or lost. At least it feels that way. In reality your spirit is on an adventure. You’ve lived all the easy silly fun lives. You’re bored. Do the movies you watch have no tense or sad or horrific scenes? Why do you watch those? You don’t only watch comedies. You like action movies and dramas and horrors and maybe even the odd tear jerker. So if you’ll do that for entertainment why won’t you do it for salvation?

440 Relax and Succeed - You are valuable because you existLet things be. Including yourself. Don’t create a world where everything’s right. Live rightly in the world. Allow it to unfold in its magnificent grace. And go whichever direction your nature takes you. For your nature is not leading to somewhere. It’s the verb of you moving through experiences. It exists in the present moment. And it is always fine with whatever happens.

Okay, can you mix those ideas together so that the opening quote makes perfect sense? If you’re seeking enlightenment you’re assuming you’re not already enlightened, and so you’re trying to get where you already are. So you don’t become healthier by changing yourself some way. You realize health by coming to know the truth about how your daily experience is formed.

You don’t try to be mentally healthy because that’s an outside-looking-in perspective. You allow yourself to already be healthy by not thinking that the way you are is wrong. Because your true contentment does not come from outside sources like things or approval. It is born out of the richness of a complete and utter lack of need. The person who lacks nothing is the richest person indeed. And the person who is most spiritual the one who no longer seeks God because they have found a way to become One with God.

Now stop thinking that you need to be anything other than what you are. And use that confidence and value and love and go make yourself rich with happiness. 😉

peace. s

Other Perspectives #20

408 Relax and Succeed - How people treat you

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I’m a big fan of Wayne’s but let’s be cautious here. The terms “their” and “your” are tricky here because in the world of karma there are no individuals, there is merely experience. Some experience creates warm and inviting karma and the other creates the opposite just as Yin and Yang would dictate. And yes, it is your little aspect of the universe that is spinning this karma, but it isn’t just for you to experience, it’s collective. So it’s not a matter of what comes around goes around, it’s more like we’re all in a pool together so please don’t pee. If you want to know more check out my Karma Shmarma posting.

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Scott’s Favourite Blog of 2013

267 Relax and Succeed - Can you rememberI find it challenging to listen to people running themselves down because all I see is beauty and amazingness. This blog post was originally written in response to me having listened to a student one day. We were just starting the process and she felt alone and unworthy and lost. And so I reminded her that there are no such things. These are merely stories well tell ourselves. We simply are where we are and we’re doing what we’re doing. All that judgment is just fluff in our consciousness. All I did was help her to quiet that internal narrator and in the ensuing silence she felt naturalwhich is to say: fantastic.

I was disturbed by the distance in her consciousness between her actual Being and her sense of herself. So when we got off the phone I immediately sat down to write this. And as soon as I was done I knew that it was—in my own view—the best piece of writing I’ve ever done on what is a very slippery subject for any kind of language. I believe the metaphors here are clear and concise and that virtually anyone would benefit from meditating on the ideas it contains. It was a pleasure writing it and I certainly hope you find it a pleasure to read. I know I’m very pleased to offer it to you as my personal favourite for Best Blog of the Year. Enjoy.

The Soul Kitchen

Do you feel guilty? Do you have regrets? Do you wish you could have done better? Do you wish you were different?

74 Relax and Succeed - The mind that perceives LimitationsLook at how disrespectful you are. The massive, roiling, infinite soup of the Universe assembles you from trillions of cells, made from trillions of atoms, made of trillions of Higgs Boson’s—or whatever metaphor you want to use—and you use the voice you were given to say back to the Universe, “Sorry, but this is weak work. You created a ‘faulty’ person that should change before it’s allowed to exist in peace. I’m sorry, but I cannot be happy with this sad state of affairs.”

Well now, aren’t you bold.

Imagine you are in God’s / Nature’s / the Universe’s kitchen—the place where the Universe comes into Being. Imagine that All-That-Is, is in fact a large pot of soup on God’s stove. This soup contains all that ever was and all that ever will be. Everything that exists in the space-time of the soup is always just reconstituted soup, just as the atoms that make up you are in fact bits of old stars and galaxies. You aren’t so much “You” as you are a collection of other bits that are currently cooperating to Be you. And when you die your personal thoughts will subside and the bits that are “you” will return back to the Universe to be reconstituted yet again, like ink returning to an inkwell, ready for a new story to be written.

Can you see in this analogy that it’s sort of silly for a little piece of the soup to suggest that it doesn’t belong or that it doesn’t fit in? What does it think “it” is? Does it think the cook can be wrong? This soup will be made for all of eternity. What exactly would define wrong in that sense? How can soup that’s all made of one ingredient have parts of itself suggesting that other parts of itself are wrong? You’re hilarious with your thoughts of separateness.

T267 Relax and Succeed - Love is the bridgehere was a terrific guru named Sydney Banks who passed away a few years ago. Syd was a wonderful man and like most true Guru’s he had his own unique way of imparting the universe to others. The Buddha talked about illusion, Lao Tzu talked about the Flow of Tao, Jesus talked about a lack of judgment, Abraham-Hicks talks about Belonging, Eckhart Tolle talks about Now, I talk about reality, and Sydney Banks talked about Mind, Thought, and Consciousness. Using this last metaphor, let’s look again at our soup.

Mind would be the soup itself. Everything is made of Mind. All that ever Is begins with Mind. And we could define our Consciousness as the ability to freeze soup. Consciousness can freeze the soup into anything. It’s not frozen soup itself—it’s the actual ability to freeze reality. It’s the act of freezing.

So it can freeze Soup into soft curvy shapes or it can shape Soup in to sharp angular ones, but the act of freezing doesn’t differentiate or judge—it simply freezes into existence whichever Thoughts you choose to think in your Now. Thought is what chooses the shape you freeze yourself into. Read that again: you take the open, infinite possibility of the Mind-soup, and you use the ability of your consciousness to freeze parts of the soup into whatever you “think” is you. So there isn’t so much a “You” as there is a part of the soup that’s currently frozen this way or that way, and it’s frozen that way by your thinking.

I’ve traveled a lot around the world and don’t take many photos, but when I look back at old photos I do have, I’ll often see “myself” frozen into a shape that I no longer am. Younger versions of myself entertained different thoughts about the world. The me of today would have a shape that would conflict with the me of yesterday. But the conflicts are irrelevant because it’s all Soup. What’s important is the fact that I used my consistent ability to freeze-think myself into existence and over the years I’ve chosen different shapes. Those shapes were who I said I “was.”

267 Relax and Succeed - I am not what happened to meDo you see how cute my identity is? This soup will be cooked for eternity. Eternity. Does it seem sensible that our little frozen part of the soup should imagine that it’s somehow wrong or faulty or otherwise undeserving of being a part of the soup? And which version of me gets to be the ultimate judge of the other versions of me?

Think about this some more. That frozen bit of you-ness is just the Soup of Mind, frozen by Freedom of Consciousness into the Identity and Experience of Thought. So the little ice-you that is made of soup is floating in the soup it’s made of and what it’s doing as it floats is it is telling stories to itself about its separateness—its aloneness; its desire to be reunited with The Soup. And it does this all while Being soup itself.

You have never been separate. You have never been alone. You have never been wrong or undeserving. You have merely thought all of those things. But when you stop your busy personal thinking what do you think happens? Do you cease to exist? Or do all of the parts of soup that came together to Be you simply melt back into the soup? That melting is in fact the act of connection. It is a meditation.

You are Enlightened every time you lose track of time. You do that because you are simply Being Soup rather than thinking yourself into a state of seeming separateness. In the end it doesn’t matter what shapes the soup is frozen into—it doesn’t matter if it’s frozen into peace, or into war, into marriage or divorce, into success or failure it’s all The Soup. It includes all Yin and Yang. But the important part is that The Soup is always The Soup. So stop trying to change it and just start tasting it instead. Because there was never anything wrong with the soup and so there can never be anything truly wrong with you.

Enjoy your day. You can’t go wrong.

I love you. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

The Good Life

140 Relax and Succeed - Meditation is a surrenderYou want to be strong. You want to be capable. You want to choose a path and you want to walk it with determination. You want to get somewhere, accomplish something, become someone. You’re thinking about what you’ve been taught is good and right and successful; and you have been taught about the pitfalls you should worry about: being bad, being wrong, or failure itself. And you are trying to make your way though this maze of words and ideas to your destination. Your doorway. You are passing the test of goodness that will gain you some reward. Right?

Ah, no.

Sri Ramana Maharshi said it nicely: You carry heaven and hell within you. Look, even if you’re looking from deep within a religion, the Kingdom of Heaven is an eternal place. It has existed for all time, and it will last for all time. I’m good with that idea. But we have to see this “place” as a state of mind within ourselves. Because if heaven and hell are eternal, that means they are happening right now. They don’t start when you die—that’s a bit arrogant. None of us are so important that our personal death suddenly incites the existence of Nirvana.

Heaven always exists and it lives inside of you, but you can’t see it because you are trying to negotiate your way through the words, and the ideas that the words construct. You are stumbling through words like good and healthy etc. etc. etc. With the best of intentions you are surrendering every Holy Moment in the pursuit of Holy Moments. You turn your back on God to try to find God.

The basis of everything, the energy of life—the source of your Being—is the Oneness that is God. You don’t need to be religious to experience that. You just need to lower your barriers. You have all of these ideas and identities built within yourself that prevent you from meeting the universe holistically.

If God-energy comes to you in the form of a friend, you accept it. If it comes to you in the form of a powerful sunset you will stop to simply witness the God-energy being itself. If it comes to you in the form of a book or piece of music you love, you will call it inspired, and in that you mean inspired from the great beyond—from the formless awesomeness of that which is the basis of everything. To these things you are receptive, and open, and clear.

But if God-energy comes to you in the form of an enemy, or an obstacle, or a challenge, you suddenly turn your back on God; you stop your worship of all that Is and you instead shift to rejecting what the God-universe has wrought. You get picky. You get personal. Only certain forms of God will do. And yet your salvation lies not in embracing what you already love, it lies in embracing what you cannot recognize as an aspect of yourself.

140 Relax and Succeed - The spiritual journeyCan you imagine that some people see you as difficult? Can you imagine that some see you as an enemy? That some people find you troublesome, or incomplete, or ineffective? And yet, have you ever tried to be any of those things? Of course not. You were just doing what you were doing, and occasionally another boat got swamped by your wake, or even impacted by the conflict between their course and yours. But everything is God, and so the accident is too.

Without accidents and problems there would be no heroes. Without wars no war brides and no baby boom. Whether you have the war or don’t, all sorts of lives will be lost. There are no one-sided coins. Stop trying to find your way out of life through words and symbols. Stop trying to negotiate with concepts and ideas about reality. Stop trying to become something you’re not, and start enacting what you are.

You are a divining rod. Your feelings are a guidance system. They will take you where they will take you. There is no wrong place to go. There are only words that make aspects of the God-energy appear to be wrong, or unattractive, or unappealing, but even the negative words are made of the God-energy, so you can see how futile it is to battle against them.

140 Relax and Succeed - Be content with what you haveThe only reason you want to figure out the words and the path is because you want to avoid the pain. You want to find a way through the maze of life without all the pain. This is why you must be lost before you can be found. It makes sense that you would want to avoid the pain.

As you spiritually mature you come to know that what you seek is impossible—it is a denial of many forms of the God-energy. This is the acceptance that The Buddha came to. He did not dispel suffering. He accepted it. He accepted it as a constant companion and, in doing so, it lost its power to control him. Because he was not trying to avoid it, he was able to go whichever directions he felt he should go.

Maybe you think a relationship is crazy. Maybe you think having a baby now is nuts. Maybe you’re worried you can’t afford to quit your job, or go on that trip. Maybe you wish you had a different past, or were set up for a different future. All of these things are ideas that control you because their existence tells you which way to go—which is away.

If most people look closely at their lives, they will see that much of what they enjoy today came from sources that appeared unlikely to provide joy. So it is with God-energy. There’s no point in second-guessing it. It’s too huge for that. Better to just relax and go along for the ride. Because letting go is what allows you to relax into what can only be called the good life.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.