No one likes pain. For many people, emotional and/or physical pain can burden and depress a life that offers many moments to be grateful for, so much material abundance to appreciate, and so many relationships in which to find and express love.
Yet, there is a reason why Paul Brand, a long-time researcher of leprosy, proclaimed pain to be the gift nobody wants. Though disguised with suffering, pain bears many blessings. When unwrapped using inquiry and self-exploration, pain can lead to inner peace, understanding, insight, and self-acceptance. When each layer of pain is peeled away, there is a core energy that lies within, a sort of nucleus holding an entire cluster of painful emotions, memories, thoughts, and images together. That energetic center is where one can find the gift within the suffering.
That core within, where pain and pleasure are one, where spirit and suffering meet, can lead to the authentic expression of a soul-aligned purpose. At the heart of us is a place of surrender where we can transform our painful poison into medicine. Carl Jung, the great Swiss psychologist, believed that at the core of every complex – an unconscious psychological knot of painful feelings, memories, and images – rests an archetypal energy that can become the guiding principle and purpose in one’s life.
For example, one’s battle with addiction may later become the inner drive to advocate for sobriety. A traumatic event can later lead to writing screenplays, books, and poems. In my case, I never would have thought that I would be teaching Tantra. No, I am not instructing people to position themselves in certain sexual poses with their partner, but I am a teacher of the creative force and how it can be used to expand consciousness. Often when people hear or read Tantra, they think of sexuality. Yet, the word Tantra comes from the two Sanskrit words tanoti, which means expansion, and trayati, which means liberation. Tantra attempts to expand awareness to include all opposing aspects of oneself, such as male and female, dark and light, pain and pleasure, thereby awakening to the wholeness of the universe as a creative expression of the supreme being.
After a life-altering sexual experience at the age of eight, writing became the way in which to explore my inner world and uncover ways to work with pain and discomfort. In order to feel safe after that experience, I became intellectual instead of imaginative, contained instead of creative. It was as though something within stopped moving, stopped flowing, stopped swaying. The ocean inside froze up, leaving me disconnected to the forever flowing universe and therefore depressed and dispirited. Journaling was a method to investigate suffering and to ride on pain’s emotional waves, seeing through its transparency and discovering it as nothing more than a form of energy. Writing not only got the flow going again, it also led to a center within where energy is born, where all things are possible, and where pain and pleasure are one. It led to the cradle of creativity, a place I call a holy nothingness.
Many people believe that when they discover their purpose, all will be well and that life will be void of trouble. Actually, the pain and suffering in life is part of one’s purpose. The wholeness of life will bring experiences which we perceive in the form of opposites: pain and purpose, light and dark, human and divine. In that quest towards wholeness, the person one becomes as a result of no longer pushing pain away and instead seeing through its layers to find a guiding purpose is a gift that benefits humanity.