I have been incapacitated the last 10 days. It is extremely difficult to perceive Life as a Gift when pain is so intense it precludes sleep. One's focus becomes narrow indeed. I was unable to utilize this blog even as a distraction, let alone the privilege that it is. Last night, finally, I was able to sleep for nearly 7 hours. I am hopeful the worst is behind me. I am grateful to Joel Goldsmith and Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced Tik-N'yat- Hawn) for providing methods to embrace (if not accept) the pain. In particular, Hanh's mantra of; "I am suffering, please help me," (although he uses it within a concept of personal relationships) was notably effective.
I realized over this period of time I often perceive pain as punishment. That I might have done something wrong to warrant the pain. That I am being "smote" for an indiscretion. I know my early childhood and religious training supports this as explanation of why I was going through what I was going through. Be good and you are rewarded. Be bad and you are punished. Be good, go to Heaven. Be bad, go to Hell. Of course this is nonsense, yet it is amazing how early childhood experiences can color one's perception.
We live in a world of perceived duality. There simply is no "up" without the concept of "down." You can't make a "left" if "right" doesn't exist. Therefore, isn't it possible to view pain as a process towards a fuller understanding of joy? I know it is a challenging idea to embrace. Before you disagree though, lets take a night to sleep on it, shall we?