Before pain was, you were. After pain had gone, you remained. Pain is transient, you are not.

— Nisargadatta Maharaj

“Soul Dance” © David Galstya

The body is transient. The body has pain. The mind can have pain too. The mind is fluid. Pain is local. We’re both local and nonlocal. We’re local in our body, in our incarnation.

What incarnates is nonlocal.

When pain lasts it’s discouraging. And difficult. There’s no denying that. The real trouble is our identification with pain. Especially chronic or severe pain (or suffering). Pain is more a physical experience; suffering a mental/emotional one. There can be spiritual suffering too. Identifying with the pain moves it from the physical to the mental/emotional or spiritual realm. Or nonphysical suffering can manifest in the body.

Identifying with pain changes our locus, our center. It enforces the illusion that we’re this physical mass only.

How we suffer is important. We can suffer with acknowledgment and awareness, or we can suffer with self-pity and drama. Suffering can reduce us to its own level, or we can use it as a launching pad for a bigger view. Pain can keep us locked up, or we can use its signals to break free.

Pain and suffering come and go, as do other phenomena in a lifetime. We have to decide what counts. Is it the passing phenomena or something else? Is it the transient or the abiding?

What abides? Love. Peace. Kindness. Knowing. Understanding. The truth of our being. There are qualities and states that arise in our life experience, especially if we participate spiritually with life, that are life-altering because they connect us with that which exists without conditions.

We have to understand that when we drop into time in a body, we are that body and the personality living in it. It’s us and we have a sojourn to complete. And when that sojourn is done, the thread that’s decorated with the pearls of each lifetime still exists.

It existed before this lifetime, and will remain in existence when you step out of time in this body!

The pain is not you. It’s merely passing through. You are not the suffering; it’s transient phenomena.

Being the pain and/or suffering makes things impossible. Identifying ourselves to that degree with it. We have to be with pain/suffering in the sense that we bring it into the fold, acknowledge it and care for it. Also listen to it and learn its teachings, for certainly it has revelations for us.

But reducing ourselves to, “I am this pain/suffering” is insanity, and fundamentally untrue. What we are is luminous. A passing shadow doesn’t and can’t change that.

Identify with the luminous and there will be peace with the shadow.

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Local Pain; Nonlocal Self