Most of what we do—maintaining a home, raising a family, holding a job—is relatively worthwhile and culturally approved. Trouble is, everything relative involves pain, death and disappointment. We seek compensation for this through the ardent pursuit of pleasant experiences. But pleasant experiences are essentially meaningless, and eventually we find ourselves in a state of disenchantment. We wonder: What is infinitely worthwhile? Absolutely worthwhile? And we are abruptly aware that the vaunted mind cannot help us.
Non-forgiveness is like clutching a hot coal in our closed fist. We only drop it when a moment of perfect clarity reveals how holding this pain has distorted and deformed our entire humanhood.
One Indian sage described the human experience as a gasp of pain between birth and death.
James Baldwin: “I do not like people whose principal aim is pleasure.” And neither do pleasure seekers like themselves. Two of Baldwin’s contemporaries, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, died from pleasure in extremis.
When pain arises, don’t shrink away from it. Move toward it. Invest all your awareness in it. Pain is our best opportunity for spiritual growth. Compared to pain, pleasure is a stalling tactic.