“Kisa’s only child, a very young son, had died. Unwilling to accept his death, she carried him from neighbour to neighbour and begged for someone to give her medicine to bring him back to life. One of her neighbours told her to go to Buddha, located nearby, and ask him if he had a way to bring her son back to life.

Bringing the body of her son with her, Kisa found the Buddha and pleaded with him to help bring her son back to life. He instructed her to go back to her village and gather mustard seeds from the households of those who have never been touched by death. From those mustard seeds, he promised he would create a medicine to bring her son back to life. Relieved, she went back to her village and began asking her neighbours for mustard seeds.

All of her neighbours were willing to give her mustard seeds, but they all told her that their households had been touched by death. They told her, “The living are but a few, but the dead are many.”

As the day became evening and then night, she was still without any mustard seeds that she had been instructed to collect. She realized then the universality of pain.

According to the Buddhist verse where her story comes from, she said: “It’s not just a truth for one village or town; nor is it a truth for a single family – but for every world settled by gods [and men]. This indeed is what truth is — pain”.

With this new understanding, her grief calmed. She buried her son in the forest and then returned to the Buddha. She confessed to the Buddha that she could not obtain any of the mustard seeds he had instructed her to collect because she could not find even one house untouched by grief.”

Hilary Dockray

Pain, as they say, is inevitable. For most of our lives, we run away from pain, trying to ignore it or clutching it so hard that we can’t let it go. Sometimes we try to resist pain and at the other times, indulge in self-pity and feeling of how unfair the Universe is.

Pain, in reality, is the indication that in whichever aspect of our lives we encounter the pain, that part of our lives requires our loving attention. For example, if relationships are causing pain, it is time to reflect on your relationships. If financial issues are causing discomfort, it is probably time to pay attention to your finances. Similarly, pain in some part of the body, it is time to care for that part of your body. Ignoring pain or paying too much attention can only aggravate pain. The trick is to find the balance. Do whatever is in your control to alleviate it and then leave everything on the Universe.

How can we accept pain as an integral part of our lives and learn to coexist with it?

1. Knowledge: First and foremost is to acknowledge the pain. Admitting there is some aspect of your life which needs your attention. Simply ignoring or pretending it doesn’t exist will not help. Someday when it becomes unbearable and hits you with full force, you might not be able to fight it. Hence, the first and most essential part would be acknowledging pain.

2. Acceptance: Once you have acknowledged pain. It is imperative to remember that there is nothing called co-incidence or accident. Everything happens for a reason, and the more the pain more it helps us to evolve. Hence acceptance is as important as acknowledging that you are suffering or experiencing pain.

3. Surrender: Once we stop resisting and then accept and surrender to things as they are, things start to change. When we submit, we learn to let go, and then we try to heal. Healing can only happen when we stop trying to fix everything and let Universe find ways to help us.

4. Faith: A person who has faith does not need anything else. Faith can move mountains. It can cure diseases, heal people and achieve the impossible. Have you ever wondered why some people seem unfazed by life’s obstacles? If they could tell you, their answer would be because they have faith. That is how vital faith is!

5. Gratitude: There would be times when despite us doing everything right, things will go wrong, and pain would be unavoidable. At that time, it is important to count our blessings. Instead of focusing on one thing gone wrong, we can focus on all the things we are blessed with. It may seem hard at the time, but once we start practicing it, it will become easier.

Many of us try to push the pain away, pretending it doesn’t exist, but sadly it’s not the case. Pain, if not taken care of properly, can develop into a wound, which can sometimes take years to heal and sometimes leave us with a permanent scar.

In the words of Greg Behrendt, “If you bury the pain deep down it will stay with you indefinitely, but if you open yourself to it, experience it, and deal with it head-on, you’ll find it begins to move on after a while.”

Vibha S Kapil