Every Wednesday, I get an email from Nipun Mehta called InnerNet Weekly, also viewable in a browser. Here’s the link to view this week’s message on how to suffer more effectively, written by Shinzen Young.
Therefore, there is nothing whatsoever to be said in favor of pain per se for meditators. It can just as much create new blockages as it can break up old ones. Everything depends on one’s degree of skill in experiencing it. Very little depends on the intensity of the discomfort itself. A small discomfort greeted with a large amount of skill will break up old knots. A small discomfort greeted with a large lack of skill will create new knots. The same is true with respect to big discomforts. The trick is not so much to endure massive doses of pain, but to develop that skill which will allow you to get the maximum growth out of whatever happens to come up.
Click the link above to learn more about the skills needed.
Here’s more from Thomas Merton on suffering:
Indeed, the truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers the most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and so trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all. It is his own existence, his own being, that is at once the subject and the source of his pain, and his very existence and consciousness is his greatest torture. This is another of the great perversions by which the devil uses our philosophies to turn our whole nature inside out, and eviscerate all our capacities for good, turning them against ourselves.