Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pain management.

Question :Unedited)

I have been greatly concerned about this issue. If one is in physical pain, how can Buddhism help? Buddhism is so logical, what can it offer to one in constant physical pain?

My comment:

Hi M,

I believe my previous answer is relevent to this question. I can offer a little "arm chair" comment. First, to understand the law of kamma will help. Second, meditation with right effort will help. Third, chanting of suttas will also relieve. Fourth, moral support from loved ones and genuine friends will ease the pain. Last but not least, medication.


Follow-up Question (Unedited):

Hi, I asked you a question about suffering, specifically "physical pain" and I was having computer problems so I think you got the same question twice. I received your answer and thanks. You and I went back and forth on Karma and God a couple of weeks ago until I got it and again thank you. I understand what you wrote recently of "the universal truth of existence" (survival being a bitch) and the First Noble Truth. Undertanding that is useful. But is there something more useful? For example; Through dependant origination one see onself in a different way and the pain becomes less; physical pain could make one more compassionate; I read something about mediating on patience (though I don't know what that means); also I read the Dali Lama said, if someone is in pain and there's nothing they can do about it, it is illogical to be upset because then one would have the emotional problems in addition to the physical. These are practical ways of confronting pain, because although life is suffering, Physical pain is a unique type of suffering and therefore may require a unique type of answer. Could you please give me more?

My comment:

Hi M,

It is easy to indulge ourselves in intellectual debate and discussion. It is another thing if one is the victim of pain. Have you ever been in pain for a long period of time? I had, when I was a young student away from home. It was very difficult to bear. At that time Buddhism hasn't yet gelled in my life. I had faith in the medication, but the problem did not go away entirely, even after surgery. One day someone suggested a new remedy and it worked!

So there wasn't any spiritual remedy involved in my case. There are definitely others who share the same experience. What I'm trying to conclude is that pain is pain. The only difference is how to deal with perpetual pain. This is serious matter. Nowadays, cancer is a very common sickness. According to common knowledge, the pain is excrutiating, and the treatment is very painful and debilitating. Unless the patient has a good grasp of Buddhism and has been meditating, it is very difficult for a "newcomer" to use the teachings of the Buddha to overcome pain in sickness. That is why the Christians have a field day "saving dying souls", by performing prayers for them.

The Buddhists have their methods to face pain with mindfulness through meditation. As I cautioned earlier, it is easy to indulge in theoretical exercise. It is a different matter when one is actually suffering great pain continuously. In the end we still need medical help.

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