THE PAIN IS ALL IN OUR PERSPECTIVE
A man once went to see a doctor complaining of aches and pains all over his body. “Doctor my whole body hurts me,” he moaned. The doctor asked him to show exactly where the pain was.
The man explained, “When I touch my shoulder, it hurts. When I touch my back it hurts. When I touch my legs, they hurt.”
The doctor did a thorough examination and told the man, “Sir, there is nothing wrong with your body. Your finger is broken. That is why it hurts wherever you touch. Get your finger plastered, rest it for a couple of weeks and all of your pains will disappear.”
In life so frequently it is our own perspective that causes us pain. As we go through life “feeling” the world with our fingers, if our finger is broken naturally we will experience pain everywhere. But, we make the mistake of blaming the external world for our ailments: “My job is over-taxing, my husband is too demanding, my wife nags, my children are disobedient, my in-laws don’t understand me, etc. etc.” But if you look throughout the world you will be able to find someone who has the same type of job but is calm, or someone who has the same type of spouse but is happy, or someone who has the same type of children but is patient, or someone who has the same type of in-laws but is grateful.
What is it that allows two people to experience the same external situation but respond in two different ways? Our own perspective. Our own perception. The key, then, is not to try to change every situation in our life, but rather to change the glasses through which we see the world. Sure, if we have a fixable situation at the office or at home, we should definitely do our best to improve it. But, what I have seen is that if someone has the nature to be dissatisfied, or the nature to be stressed, or the nature to be pained, that person’s nature is not going to change simply by changing the external situation.
A massage for the back, shoulder or legs or a chiropractic or acupuncture treatment would not help the man in our earlier example because it is his finger which is broken. He could spend hundreds of dollars to ease the pain in his body, but unless he puts his broken finger in a splint, he will continue to experience pain every time that finger touches the various parts of his body. Similarly, we run around through life trying to “fix” our jobs or marriages or family life, but frequently the reality is in our own perspective. If we spend the same amount of energy “fixing” our perspective as we spend trying to “fix” our spouse or children, everything would be fine.
This is not to say that pains and troubles don’t really exist in our day to day life. Of course they do. The man in our example may also have a stiff back or sore shoulders. But the excruciating pain he experienced was due not to the minor aches and pains in his body, but due to the severely broken finger with which he was touching them. Similarly, our jobs and our families are taxing. They demand a lot of us. However, the unbearable pain many of us experience is due not to the demands and commands from without, but due to the demands and commands from within ourselves.
In the Gita it is said that we are our best friend and also our own worst enemy, depending upon how we live our lives.
Let us all take some time to examine what our own personal “broken finger” is. What is it within ourselves that causes us to experience pain in the world? What irrational fear, what unfulfillable desire, what selfish motive, what ego-driven need has broken the finger with which we feel the world or has colored the glasses with which we see? We spend so much time examining others, but very little time examining our own selves.
The Source of all joy and peace lies within us. We are blocked from that Source by a host of desires, fears and ignorance. The key to finding and tapping into that Source must come from within. Let us find the key within ourselves and unleash the Ocean of Divine Bliss in our lives.