Archive for October, 2010

Between Pain and Joy: the Pendulum

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Our existence is like a pendulum oscillating between comfortable and uncomfortable states, or, to put it simpler, between pain and joy. To understand this concept in a practical way, we should be open to experience ourselves as “energy skeins.” Th e vital force forming and animating us is very subtle and its state changes continuously. For several decades now, scientists have shared the view that matter and energy are the same thing and, consequently, all is energy and all vibrates within us in a given frequency.

If we apply to emotional states the concept of opposite and complementary energies, we find extreme pain and displeasure on the one side, and extreme joy and pleasure on the other. It’s not likely that we can know much about pleasure without having previously experienced displeasure—in other words, something that made us feel
uncomfortable or prevented us from feeling pleasure. Only when we have known pain can we experience its opposite and feel how comfortable or peaceful we are in a given situation or with a given person. The lack of what was pleasant allows us to know, by contrast, how much we wish to have that which made us feel well. For example, we walk every day without ever realizing that we do, or how we do it, until a pebble slides itself into our shoe or we hurt our foot. If our human existence was like that of the rest of the animals on the planet, flowing naturally between the energy opposites of that which feels comfortable or “good” and that which feels uncomfortable or “bad,” we would live some time in the “pain” area and some time in the “joy” area, while the rest of the time we’d go through all the intermediate points that make up the different gradations between pain and joy. Things aren’t like that, however, for us. We, civilized human beings, have forgotten how to allow the natural flow of life. Our rational mind is programmed to control or resist this natural cycle through a tangle of beliefs and of mental and emotional habits that make upan artificial energy identity. Theorists have called this aspect of ourselves “ego.” This ego only wants and accepts joy, while avoiding and rejecting pain. Through this cultural conditioning, pain is no longer an energy experience and comes to be associated with fear, complaint, shame, guilt, frustration, anger, and many other negative feelings. It’s interesting to note that when circumstances are favorable to artificial identity (that is, when everything happens as we wish or as we are
programmed to have it happen), we feel intensely happy and believe that this state should be permanent. Energetically speaking, we are totally “given over” and our pendulum shifts to the utmost joy. But when there is an experience that occurs somewhere between pain and joy, we ask ourselves what is wrong. How is it possible that there has been so much pain in my life? How is it possible that there is so much pain in the world?
The pendulum can’t stay all the time in the area of joy or happiness. This is simply because things are not designed like that in the universe. It’s only natural that it shifts to the center at some point, and also
then to extreme pain and back to pleasure. Our existence, as well as that of everything created, is spent in a continuum going from joy to pain, but it’s precisely this that our artificial identity isn’t willing to accept. It rejects this part of the story and struggles to death against it. This is so because our rational mind has been programmed to avoid pain and resorts through every conceivable strategy to resist the natural movement of the pendulum. This resistance only delays the course of the oscillation, which sometimes, on its way to extreme pain, remains fixed at the pain side during a longer time than necessary—which is precisely what we are trying to avoid. Thus, the resonance of what we have been so used to feeling—suffering—is actually a direct result
of the resistance to pain, which is then perpetuated within us. The pendulum needs to complete its cycle before going back to the center. The longer we resist its natural flow, the longer we will remain on the side that “feels bad.” This is why suffering is more familiar to us than joy. Unconsciously, we exhaust good feelings very quickly, while we resist unendingly the unpleasant ones. The resonance of perpetuated suffering or pain will go on until we finally let ourselves experience it, embracing it just as it is. This state of aff irs does not mean that we are going to like what will then happen or agree with it. This step is the consequence of a process of taking responsibility for one’s own life and accepting what it demands of us. For many people, that acceptance takes place when the artificial identity we call self-image is weakened, and gets tired of resisting reality and fighting against it. In other cases, acceptance emerges as a consequence of making friends with life and becoming aware that the pendulum’s oscillation is a natural process. Finally, we come to the realization that we don’t always want to live on the positive side any longer, because we have come to know that this delusion produces even more suffering. We understand that the oscillation is a natural part of our existence as human beings, and the more we accept it, the quicker the pendulum moves.

Adapted from Memory in the Cells