I don’t know why I’m writing this one. I’ve been guided to. I would like to start by encouraging you to do what you are guided to do. The reasons become clear later. That is kind of the point of the whole thing, including what I’m writing about, pain.
As the Buddha said, pain is mandatory, suffering is optional.
And the capital R Real Reality is that when you are experiencing pain–especially of the psychological and spiritual variety–it’s really the suffering that is the problem. It’s what solidifies the pain sensation into something that hurts.
So what we’re here to do is to work with that, to alleviate suffering if you will.
Bring in the Calvary
I experienced a great deal of pain earlier this year. In Taos, Jenny and I had a very very big fight. I experienced a significant amount of pain for a significant amount of time during and after this experience. Things got so bad that all I knew to do was to leave.
I got on a train to Flagstaff, Arizona for no particular reason and checked into a hostel. It was cold, I was defeated, and I found myself in a cheap dorm filled with snoring men whose feet stank. I felt pretty low.
What kept me going is the important part. For what kept me going has utterly transformed my life since this time. It is a mantra taught to me by the Five-Star General himself: Bashar. The mantra goes like this:
This must mean something good is coming!
That’s it. This must mean something good is coming. No matter what I was experiencing, no matter how many visions and fantasies of homelessness, destitution, and despair danced like sugarplums inside my head, I repeated the mantra. I had no fucking idea what good was coming or even how this situation could be in any way good but when the choice was between wanting to kill myself and just telling myself that this pain I was experiencing was because something good was coming, the choice was practically made for me.
The Mantra Works Its Magic
There were probably about three pretty bad days in total. I had a similar episode (before knowing the mantra) when I was 19 and it lasted about three months, so we compressed each month into a day in this case, which I’d say is pretty dang good.
By day four, I met some people, forced myself out of bed, and things began looking up. By day five, I was having quite the adventure and by day seven, I was a traveler dancing through the universe on a wind of synchronicity.
Many, many good things began happening in my life. And they haven’t stopped since. And it’s not a coincidence.
What Changed For Me
The main good thing that came out of my fight with Jenny is that I realized that holding on to a negative situation in the hopes that if you just dig deep enough, eventually you will find the root and pull the whole thing out and that things will then get better is false. It doesn’t work. The end.
I took that idea to its logical conclusion in Taos and I ended up with a black eye and a wife with a huge lump on her head. Visions of sirens danced in my head. It was very very ugly. At the same time, it was an experience so intense that it burned deeply into my consciousness and I was unable to forget it and thus able to consider that experiment a complete fail and a dead end.
So, from that point forward, as I traveled, I would come upon much less intense yet archetypally similar situations. In the past, I would have started a confrontation, hoping to make things better. Now, I just walked away. Things not working with someone: leave. Shit going down: skip out the back, Jack / make a new plan, Stan / no need to be coy, Roy / just get yourself free. I did it!
At first, I was uber-concerned that this was denial. Like I was running away from my problems. That belief had certainly been ingrained in me. “You must face your problems.” Wasn’t this cowardice? Avoidance? Some kinda DSM-IV condition? Well, I decided, there was only one way to find out and that was to do an experiment. I would just try leaving bad situations and see what happened. I figured, if they reappear, I need to face them. If they don’t, then maybe I don’t.
Well, the friggin’ miraculous happened. Each time I walked away from a bad situation, things got WAAAAAY better in my life. Someone would be mad at me in a way that reminded me of how Jenny would get mad at me. With Jenny, I would always fight and both of our days would often be ruined. With these new situations, I just left. And almost immediately after I left, a friend would call to hang out or I would super randomly meet someone cool or a cute girl would tell me I looked good. It was trippy. Like seriously, bizarrely trippy.
And I decided to hell with modern psychology. From now on I’m trusting my own experience.
It Comes One-Eighty
So anyway, fast forward a couple months and Jenny and I are to be reunited. We see each other, it’s amazing, we are in love again, and then within like three hours we have another fight. Like the same fight all over again. But this time I’ve wised up and I walk away. This pisses Jenny off big time. I don’t let it affect me. I repeat the mantra: this must mean something good is coming. I follow my excitement. I do what’s most exciting. I sleep. I meet a pretty girl. I eat dinner. Life goes on. Jenny comes back. She is more reasonable. She is able to see her own anger in a new way. Things get better. Our relationship changes dramatically. Our relationship improves dramatically. We begin living our own lives, together. We return to Eden.
And I look back to that confused guy in a cold and stinky Flagstaff dorm room and I tell him, something very very good came to me.
I have repeated this every time I have been in pain since then. Every time, I feel just a little better. Just a little more hopeful. And every time, something good has come to me. And my life gets better and better, better and better, better and better, with no end in sight.
All is well in the world. All is well in your world. Pain is mandatory; deciding it means something good is coming to you, well that’s just recommended.