Peter’s thoughts on light love pain and suffering

I am reminded in this time of suffering of the two paths we can all choose. Retreat into a solitary safety or walk into the darkness knowing and trusting you are able to call upon light and love any time you want. Suffering as Buddha has taught is the nature of life but what is important to remember is he also told us the nature of that suffering comes from within each us, that our desire to want things to be different than they are, is the source of our experience of suffering.
I work and collaborate within this community of individuals (that’s you guys, my friends) who all suffer in such extremes that many people will never experience, so much so that suicide is a constant with notices delivered on a weekly basis and sometimes daily. But it is also with this group that inner strength from learning to embrace pain is discovered.
Lesson number one, what exactly is pain? I can tell you it is not what most people think. It is not the instinct to pull away from a hot stove, a sharp knife, a gun pointed at you or a clenched fist. No. Pain is a reminder, an indicator, that something is off balance and needs your attention. Pain is nothing more than a sensation of extreme discomfort meant to alert you to the need for attention, it is not meant to make you hide or withdraw. It’s purpose is to focus your attention.
In the end of course this is a choice. This is in fact the choice that Joseph Campbell means in the Hero’s Journey. This is the point where you are standing on the edge of a threshold and have to choose to accept the “Call to Action or Adventure” or return to your “normal” life.
Thich Nhat Hanh discusses this extensively. He tells us that pain is a reminder of a deep wound within that requires healing. Indeed this wound could be from another life and it could be shared family pain. Whatever the source it requires acknowledgement and it needs to be able to express itself. He tells us it needs to be allowed to emotionally surface in a safe manner and embraced with love until you can no longer bear it and then it can be returned within. This needs to be done as long as it takes so that you can bring that experience to the surface so that you no longer suffer at its recall.
Today so many people are suffering and we can all feel it. It is tempting to not only self-distance but to even isolate. Many people are using all to common avoidance techniques to hide from the pain such as entertainment, alcohol, anger, violence, etc. We on the other hand have been trained and given tools many people don’t have. We are very well positioned to embrace the suffering and to help it heal and not let it’s pain consume us. We do this by keeping active, eating healthy, meditating, doing something creative and keeping in contact with those people who are important in our lives. Some people may have nobody else, but as a minimum we all have the Project Trauma Support tribe. We are in a position to walk in the dark suffering that others are feeling and to bring in the light and love that they cannot see for themselves. We cannot and should not be cutting the cords of the collective just to protect ourselves – we are better than that.