The Sunlit Path|Jul 3, 2005 5:59 AM| by:

Handling Physical Pain

At some time in our lives we are all confronted with an acute physical pain — it can be due to an illness, an accident or any other reason.  While some have a great capacity for bearing pain, generally most get greatly flustered and affected with the slightest pain and, by and large, hardly anyone knows how to face pain.

The Mother was once asked :

 Question :
       What should one do when we have an acute physical pain or suffering?  

Here is the Mother’s very practical answer, given to the children, where she explains the power of inner immobility and how one can develop it, as well as the power of an inner peace and trust.

“Physical sufferings? One thing is certain.  I think this was in the system, in the nature, that it was invented as an indicator; because, for example, if the body was disorganized in some way or other and this caused no suffering at all, one would never look for a way to stop the disorganisation. One thinks of curing an illness only because one suffers. If it caused you no unpleasantness, you would never think of being cured of it. So, in the economy of Nature I think that the first purpose of physical suffering was to give you a warning.

Unfortunately, there is the vital which pokes its nose into the affair and takes a very perverse pleasure in increasing, twisting, sharpening the suffering. Now this deforms the whole system because instead of being an indicator, sometimes it becomes an occasion for enjoying the illness, for making oneself interesting, and also having the opportunity to pity oneself—all kinds of things which all come from the vital and are all detestable, one more than another. But originally I think that it was this: “Take care!” You see, it’s like a danger-signal: “Take care, there’s something out of order.”

Only, when one is not very much coddled, when one has a little endurance and decides within himself not to pay too much attention, quite remarkably the pain diminishes. And there are a number of illnesses or states of physical imbalance which can be cured simply by removing the effect, that is, by stopping the suffering. Usually it comes back because the cause is still there. If the cause of the illness is found and one acts directly on its cause, then one can be cured radically. But if one is not able to do that, one can make use of this influence, of this control over pain—by cutting off the pain or eliminating it or mastering it in oneself—in order to work on the illness. So this is an effect, so to say, from outside inwards; while the other is an effect from within outwards, which is much more lasting and much more complete. But the other also is effective.

For example, you see, some people suffer from unbearable toothache. Some people are more or less what I call “coddled”, that is, unable to resist any pain, to bear it; they immediately say, “I can’t! It is unbearable. I can’t bear any more!” Ah, this indeed changes nothing in the circumstances; it does not stop the suffering, because it is not by telling it that you don’t want it that you make it go away.

But if one can do two things: either bring into oneself—for all nervous suffering, for example—bring into oneself a kind of immobility, as total as possible, on the part which hurts, this has the effect of an anaesthetic. If one succeeds in bringing an inner immobility, an immobility of the inner vibration, at the spot where one is suffering, it has exactly the same effect as an anaesthetic. It cuts off the contact between the place of pain and the brain, and once you have cut the contact, if you can keep this state long enough, the pain will disappear. You must form the habit of doing this. But you have the occasion, all the time, the opportunity to do it: you get a cut, get a knock, you see, one always gets a little hurt somewhere—especially when doing athletics, gymnastics and all that—well, these are opportunities given to us. Instead of sitting there observing the pain, trying to analyse it, concentrating upon it, which makes it increase indefinitely… There are people who think of something else but it does not last; they think of something else and then suddenly are drawn back to the place that hurts.

But if one can do this… You see, since the pain is there, it proves that you are in contact with the nerve that’s transmitting the pain, otherwise you wouldn’t feel it. Well, once you know that you are in contact, you try to accumulate at that point as much immobility as you can, to stop the vibration of the pain; you will perceive then that it has the effect of a limb which goes to sleep when you are in an awkward position….

Well, you deliberately try this kind of concentration of immobility in the painful nerve; at the painful point you bring as total an immobility as you can. Well, you will see that it works, as I told you, like an anaesthetic: it puts the thing to sleep. And then, if you can add to that a kind of inner peace and a trust that the pain will go away, well, I tell you that it will go.

Of all things, that which is considered the most difficult from the yogic point of view is toothache, because it is very close to the brain. Well, I know that this can be done truly to the extent of not feeling the pain at all; and this does not cure the bad tooth, but there are cases in which one can succeed in killing the painful nerve. Usually in a tooth it is the nerve which has been attacked by the caries, the disease, and which begins to protest with all its strength. So, if you succeed in establishing this immobility, you prevent it from vibrating, you prevent it from protesting. And what is remarkable is that if you do it fairly constantly, with sufficient perseverance, the sick nerve will die and you will not suffer at all anymore. Because it was that which was suffering and when it is dead it does not suffer any longer.

Try. I hope you never have a toothache.

– The Mother

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