In praise of emotional pain


“The heart that rushes to open into flowers is always the first to be pricked by thorns.”

George Moore

Our emotions are very important asset for us, for they are a great power, a powerful engine. They are the base for personal and spiritual growth. The problem being that in many of us it is not fixed yet, it is still fluid, moving between two states; either ‘up’ or ‘down’.

The more ‘ups’ we have –the more drastic is the ‘down’. In both states you go wild, and like in a swing – one pole causes going wild in the opposite pole. We run away from the ‘downs’ looking only the ‘up’ (sexual pressures, going out to have a good time, romanticism, fun etc. The more one is addicted to it – the more you want. And so, instead of the power of the emotions being channeled for spiritual and personal growth – they are on wild fire that uses up and flattens and weakens the emotional system.

We are busy licking drops of honey, like in a story be Leo Tolstoy:

“There is an old Eastern fable about a traveler who is taken unawares on the steppes by a ferocious wild animal. In order to escape the beast the traveler hides in an empty well, but at the bottom of the well he sees a dragon with its jaws open, ready to devour him. The poor fellow does not dare to climb out because he is afraid of being eaten by the rapacious beast, neither does he dare drop to the bottom of the well for fear of being eaten by the dragon. So he seizes hold of a branch of a bush that is growing in the crevices of the well and clings on to it. His arms grow weak and he knows that he will soon have to resign himself to the death that awaits him on either side. Yet he still clings on, and while he is holding on to the branch he looks around and sees that two mice, one black and one white, are steadily working their way round the bush he is hanging from, gnawing away at it. Sooner or later they will eat through it and the branch will snap, and he will fall into the jaws of the dragon. The traveler sees this and knows that he will inevitably perish. But while he is still hanging there he sees some drops of honey on the leaves of the bush, stretches out his tongue and licks them”.

 Leo Tolstoy, A Confession and Other Religious Writings. ,

Jane Kentish (Translator), (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 5, 1988.

This addictions to the sweet pleasures of life (honey) does not contribute to personal growth, it weakens it.

We lick one drop and another and another – in the hope that the next honey drop will make us forget the tragedies of life, the top of which is that one day our life would end.

The question isn’t if you enjoy your life, but is: do you use it to grow, become emotionally mature and developed?

When we will reach old age, would it matter to us how much we enjoyed them? Or that we used them to reach a higher level in our self (one expression of this level is: wisdom).

We are all subject to the common approach to life; to reach happiness. But there is another philosophy; it is subversive, the philosophy of pain…

The happy man is usually a sleeping man, not connected to his inner being.

A man is connected to himself through pain, and not because the pain is something exalted (this is romantic), but because the essence of human life is based on pain. We are born with pain and often die with pain, and in between we try to prevent it.

Why is that? Because to be a human is to have a soul, and the soul is locked in a physical body and this state is painful (if we are sensitive and tuned enough to her). A mention to this prison painful state of the soul is expressed in a song by Cat Stevens: “Sad Lisa”:

She hangs her head and cries on my shirt
She must be hurt very badly
Tell me what’s making you sadly?
Open your door, don’t hide in the dark
You’re lost in the dark, you can trust me
‘Cause you know that’s how it must be
Lisa, Lisa, sad Lisa, Lisa

Her eyes like windows, trickling rain
Upon her pain, getting deeper
Though my love wants to relieve her
She walks alone from wall to wall
Lost in a hall, she can’t hear me
Though I know she likes to be near me
Lisa, Lisa, sad Lisa, Lisa

She sits in a corner by the door
There must be more I can tell her
If she really wants me to help her
I’ll do what I can to show her the way
And maybe one day I will free her
Though I know no one can see her
Lisa, Lisa, sad Lisa, Lisa

From: Tea for the Tillerman the fourth studio album by singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, released in November 1970.

The mere existence of a spiritual being in a hard, crud, material body – is a distress for the soul. Thus, to feel our soul is to feel its stress and pain, and this pain feeling is to be connected to what is real and hidden in us.

Being connected to this pain is to know that happiness is not reachable, but the grace of being connected to one’s soul –is possible. And until then: to be in an ongoing longing.

On the whole, pain is an alarm call that shows that something is not right, the problem starts when there are no more such pains, and it symbolizes the disconnection from the inner being. Therefor we should be in a state of listening to his pains, because through them we can wake up to the real reality.

There are two ways to relate to pain; one is to ignore and repress it (this is the way of ‘sleep’), and the second way is to go with the flashlight of the pain until we reach the place where it hatched from (and thus connect to one’s being). But we wish not to feel the pain, so we cherish fantasies that becomes more real than the soul’s pain.

An authentic feeling is to feel the pain and a rage that comes from the frustration about our inability to be unted with our inner being.

To be a full human being, is to feel always that something is missing, and this feeling is the ultimate pain.


“Pain comes from the soul, happiness comes from the emotions”


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