ON PAIN AND SUFFERING

I.

   Pain is a basic elemental force of which the world is made, and is always present when there is an act of will.  Pain is part of life.  It pierces through me and transforms me forever, never allowing me to remain in the past.

   Suffering is different, it is something that I drag from the past and which has its origin in my attitudes, in the way I deal with pain.  Suffering is horizontal and psychological, it belongs to the world of death and pathology.  It is a psychological product, and it is my creation always.

   Pain is unavoidable.  I open my arms and let the sword pierce through my heart and break me.  This doesn't bring death, it brings forever more life, because it is done with the passion of surrender.  Let love pierce and break me!  Let your pain be mine!  May it break me so that I can be you!

   Suffering comes from the body, when you resist this, when you are afraid of pain, and afraid of death.  It is like dragging what is dead, it is death itself.

   Although the 2 words may be used indistinctively, the 2 meanings above represent very different things.  I do not create pain, but suffering is my production.

   When there is a lot of pain, reason is useless.  Silence is more appropriate.  Silence is often the only appropriate thing when we are facing what is sacred and high, such as someone who is in pain.

   I value words often not for their conceptual content, but because they are like waves, and if used with love, words can be like a caress, and healing.  A better "word" for word is "voice".  The "voice" can bring what reason cannot, and this voice need not be audible, like in tears, or in a gesture, or a simple touch, a closeness, a kiss of the soul.

   Feelings can reach much deeper and higher than reason.  And the will even more... I always see the example of Saint Paul in this.  When he fell to the ground, blinded by the light of Christ resurrected, once he had heard His voice as an answer, his reaction was not to think, he obeyed (he said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?).

   Steiner used to say that we are awake in thinking, dreaming in feeling, and asleep in willing.  Therefore, contrary to the "horizontal" view often mentioned of a "triunvirate" netween them, we have here a vertical view, because once you are "awake" in feelings, consciousness penetrates deeper and higher than thinking into the nature of things, and in this sense, feeling is always "superior", although I shouldn't use this word.

   The triunvirate of thinking-feeling-willing Steiner used often looses validity here.  "Thinking" looses its distinction, because what one is doing is learning to follow the "thoughts of the heart", which, though different than the thoughts of the head, are still thoughts.

   From this perspective, there is no question of "act without thinking", since the "I" by necessity is present in the feelings.

   Another way of putting it is that the "feeling" ceases to be of the astral body and has become etheric, or that the "thinking", once it has broken the seal of the etheric body, becomes "feeling", or perhaps, we can say that "etheric thinking", since it involves your nature in a much more intense and integral way, is more akin to "feeling".

   When I say "feeling" above, this is what I have in mind, and not the usual doctrine of "thinking-feeling-willing" often referred to.
 

II.

   We are creators of our world and circumstances, but we do it unconsciously.  It is a question of feelings and choices of which we are not aware and which are controlling our life.  When I become aware of how I have been making those choices unconsciously, instead of thinking that it was an "accident", "chance", "destiny", etc., there is no burden, nor guilt, nor feeling helpless, victim ,etc.  This is substituted by understanding and a realization of freedom.

   The principle is quite simple: if I don't understand how I "created" (it may not be a good word --maybe "co-created") my cancer (for example), it may happen that the cancer, once gone, was not able to eliminate from you the emotional and spiritual disposition that created it in the first place, and then something else will be created, some "symbolic" cancer (this example, however, may not be good, since cancer forces you to make very strong choices and adjustments)

   "Mistake" is not a concept that appears in my vision or my evaluation of all these unconscious actions and choices and preferences that ended up in my having Cancer, or in transmitting it to my children.  It is not the feeling that one is aiming at when someone decides to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions, either.  There is no "wrong" or "right" here, only acknowledgement of my own darkness, and awareness of my freedom to choose.

   It's an act of presence, an act of the will.  It's something like "Here I am, this cancer is part of me, it has been with me, I have nurtured it".  It is not a question of "how".

   "Cause" and "effect" explanations become meaningless.  I see it as a concordance between the "I" and the world.  In this sense, I cannot have cancer if am not already it.  If I got cancer, it is because I am the cancer; in a way, the cancer is eloquent telling me something about myself.  I will never get any disease that is not like me.

   Sickness and pain have to do with gesture; they have "a face", and a gesture, and an attitude, a certain type of "moving".  They "talk", they are a gesture of the soul that has become ingrained in the body through time.

   The disease "came" to my body in order to physically express what is in the soul, in order to allow me to "see" what I otherwise refuse to see or cannot see.  The disease is "an incarnation" of the soul.  I will never have a disease that is not like me.  The appearance of the disease is the start of the healing.

   I "interpret" an experience or a disease in the same symbolical and associative way that I interpret dreams, and in the same way that I interpret an accident.  They are all expressions of my inner and outer life.  There is no inner/outer distinctions, and the disease is part of me as the accident is and as my circumstances are.

   A person with his diseases and with his pain, with his gestures, with his shadows, with his language, with his circumstances, with his dreams, with his glory, etc., is something that "sounds", something than can be listened to as you listen to music.  Music has "meaning" by itself.  The "meaning" of music is found right there as a flow in time.  A human biography is the same.

   Life speaks.  My sickness and my pain speak to me, telling me about myself, about themselves, about man, about the world, etc.  That is what I meant by "eloquent", and the learning has no end.

   There is no failure, just truth.  Truth is painful, but is what gives dignity to all that you have lived and felt.  Not failure or mistakes or intellectual analysis, just the truth, the truth of weakness, the vulnerability, the beauty that is never lost.
 

III.

  Perhaps I can put it more clearly by not speaking of the past but of "history".  This history contains already all the "whys" from the future that contributed in the shaping of what is now history.  I am that history, including my sickness and all my circumstances.

   It is something that I am able to see myself: the person in front of me becomes "liquid", the meaning of his or her history is "revealed" and becomes present, and it is a meaning that is leading to the future, to hope, and to greater and greater freedom arising from "understanding" that is no more an intellectual formula of the head, but a "silence", an encounter, an acknowledgement, a moment of "humble glory".

   History is not "in the past", the "destiny" coming from the future and leading to it can be read in your personal biography, since that biography contains all those significant revelations from the future that have converged in your "past presents" and created your "present present".

   My biography, my history, is made of the convergence of this future coming to me at all the significant moments of my life that have given form to it.  This meaning coming from the future can be found in a re-examination of the past.

   Time becomes "history", and it is there, present, and liquid.  It makes itself present when you release your perception from the trivial and naive conditioning of past- present-future, when history is there and alive being perceived as a flow, as "lines of motion" of the liquid etheric body.  You don't "analyze" this liquefied presence, you listen to it through inspiration, perceive it through your imagination, "hold it" in your intuition...

   History is not a dead past.  It is present, talking, meaningful, and freeing, creating the future anew every instant.  I am here in the river of time.  This river is alive and is my history, my etheric body.  It contains both past and future, it is shaping my world; it flows... it is really no time.  It is creating time, creating history anew.  It is a miracle.

   Perhaps a simpler way of saying it is that you go beyond the superficial intellect and begin to "think" through imagination and inspiration.  Then horizontal time is suspended and you are in the flow of the etheric body, in vertical time, seeing how the astral comes to you in waves of meaning.

   Once you can see how the different parts of this past are connected to each other with such an immense wisdom, you no longer think of the past as "concrete and inflexible facts".  The past is made of meaning, it is always open for re-discovery, it is always new.  I don't see it as a collection of memories at all, but as the flow of history, as waves of meaning.  This history is the "I" extended, perceived more realistically as a presence in time that shows intentionality and purpose, and therefore contains the "whys" and the glimpses of the future.

   It is not a question of separating the hows and the whys, the past and the future, but of delving into the presence of this history that constitutes and gives shape to my "I" and my present reality.  You develop "tools" or models of inter-relatedness and of interpretation that allow you to "feel" the purpose that drives it (the history).  Then one can connect with these driving forces which, not being "facts" or memories at all but astral and spiritual impulses, are full of life and meaning.
 

IV.

   I like a lot the image of Lazarus in John when Jesus wept, because they deal with what he did, not what he said.  He didn't just "think", he felt, and with his feelings and his will he stepped into the realms of death.  Not reason, no rational explanations.

   Maybe he cries because he feels in his body the pain of Mary and of the people he loved, and because he knows "the time has come" to shatter the world and pierce through death and through the body with love and with light.  The old world is coming apart and a new one is being built where death and love and pain are going to be embraced by Life.  He knew that resurrecting Lazarus was going to be his death sentence, and also the fulfillment of the mystery and the gift of love he was: the resurrection and the life.

   There can be consciousness without thinking in an act of will.  You don't "think" about loving someone, you just love him, consciously, and with a strength and a presence superior to any thinking.  You don't "think" faith, you have it or not, you don't "think" trust, you feel it, and they are all conscious.  As we pierce through our own nature with our "I", then I am present in my feeling and my willing as well.

   Besides, I can "think" with my hands and my feet much better than with my brain, and I can think "with the word", i.e., I can give shape to things that are the expression of thoughts even if I am not "thinking" them intellectually or with my brain, but they are still my thoughts and I am doing it consciously, as when dancing to the music.  "Thinking" may not be intellectual logic or reflection, and still there is intelligence and consciousness in it.

   We could also say that those are also thoughts, only not ours, but of the gods...

   There is love in truth, but not in farce or self-lying.  There is certainly pain in truth, but our goal is not the absence of pain: it is the fulfillment of love.  Then the pain disappears only in a way, because it becomes the pain of the world, and it is not pain anymore but a force and a joy.  Truth always transforms itself in strength and capacity for love, never in the absence of pain.

   Pain will always be there when we take decisions that change our lives and that of others.  But when pain comes out of the truth instead of the hiding and avoiding it, it certainly is not pain but passion, and it is this passion that keeps the waters of life flowing.  It is because of passion that we live and we love, and because of passion we die.  It is not something to be understood through reason, like the utterances of Angels...
 

V.

   Let's transgress! Let's sin together! Let's hold hands. Let's face our own mistakes and not blame the other. Let's live, and not be afraid. Let's trust the river that takes us. I don't know where it is going, where it is taking us; some of us will die along the way... but I don't care. I want to be here. Let's die together...

   The waters of this river are more powerful than the rationalistic and arrogant pretensions of those who teach fear of living, pretending to know what they cannot understand.

   If you are in the mud, I want to go into the mud with you, so that I can hold you and give you my hand. Then, embracing each other, hand to hand, knowing each other's souls, we will be transformed and consecrated together, because we will be light and body of an archangel who will kiss our mud and fill us with his grace...
 
 

Juan Antonio Revilla
San Josť, Costa Rica, 1999. 
 


 
 
 
 
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