Michael's blog:
Most of these blogs refer to the five universal truths of existence. I want to show how those truths can bring us peace and happiness and answers to the universal questions, What's it all about? and Who am I? and Why am I here? And how they can bring solutions to everyday problems.

But some days I just write these blogs to have fun. Enjoy.

Why is there so much pain?

I hear the feelings behind the question. Why me? It’s not fair. In any kind of just universe this wouldn’t happen. I feel bewildered. What did I do to deserve this? What kind of God would allow this?  Why am I suffering so much? I know, I’ve been there. At one stage (in my extreme and innocent youth) I resented the existence of any and all pain.

Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. Pleasure is inevitable; happiness is optional. It’s not what happens that matters, it’s how we choose to react. Take a thousand different people through the same event and you’ll see a thousand different paths out the other side – and a thousand different memories of what just happened. Whether or not we see life as a valley of sorrows is up to us.

Give me something practical. If a mugger knocks me down and kicks me, that hurts. How do I choose not to suffer?

Here’s an ancient discipline. Allow, observe, release – then choose next action. Allow the pain (that means let it exist without fighting or denying it), view it from a mental distance (placing it over there not here), then release it to float away or dissipate of its own accord.  As a teenager, I used that system with every visit to the dentist – watching dentist, me and chair from a far horizon. It was the pain killer with no negative side effects.

Allow, observe, release works for any feeling you don’t want – sorrow, disappointment, rejection, anger, envy, depression – the list is long. When you feel that you’re locked in a black prison cell, the ancient discipline turns on a light. Now you can see that there’s a key on your side of the door. It puts you back in control to choose the best possible next action. Or, in terms of modern neuroscience, it allows your pre-frontal lobe to keep making rational choices.

And there’s this. It’s possible to be in pain and appreciate the beauty of your life drama. Simultaneously. Pain and pleasure are two sides of the coin of creation. The more you have of one, the more you will have of the other.  I am fond of Kahlil Gibran’s words, The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Incidentally, I’ve heard of a man in New York who was already convinced of the astonishing beauty of his life drama. So much so that when confronted by a mugger wielding a knife, he said enthusiastically, “Wow, a mugger! Fantastic!”  The mugger fled.

I don’t know if the story is true – I just really, really hope it is.