A Response to Pain

Ayse’s writing has brought up a lot for me. Her responses to suffering are inspiring and very helpful. My own suffering and ill-health is nothing like as bad – I certainly have plenty of room for complaint. For many years I have struggled with the push-pull of acceptance and rejection of symptoms, though not life threatening or as excruciatingly painful as Ayse’s, have certainly given me many hours of discomfort and distress.

I watched a documentary the other day. The film crew followed a group of severely wounded soldiers returning to the UK from Afghanistan after being blown up by land mines. All of them had had both their legs amputated, one had also lost an arm and lost his sight for many months. The way that they accepted their injuries, the pain and devastation of their bodies, was truly incredible.

I know we cannot easily make comparisons and I get what Ayse says when she advises not to judge another’s pain, but I keep thinking about those soldiers and now Ayse, and can just remind myself of their bravery, and it is helpful. And it is brave to endure without flinching or need to escape. Ayse had the conditions, to realise that trying to escape or flinching away would add to her suffering.

The other thoughts that came to mind was the memory of watching my daughter’s suffering when she was run down by a scooter in New York and had a badly fractured pelvis. Her pain and suffering was intense and as a mother what I wanted to do was to take this pain away from her. I could not, of course, take any of her suffering away from her – it was hers to endure. I was careful not to express any thoughts in that direction. What I knew was that I needed to be still with her and trust. I remember at times when it seemed good to do, doing some of the things that Ayse found so helpful – the distractions, talking to her, finding programs on TV leaving her to her visitors. And then being there, in the morning, after the loneliness and despair of the night.

Daughter continues to have pain from her injuries and will have to endure a number of painful surgeries in the future. She does not have the benefit of meditation and Buddhist teachings to support her but somehow she and those soldiers and many others suffering in many different ways, endure.

I suppose what I am aware of now is the connectedness of the human condition. All we can do is look to our own practice (and what I mean is everything we can do is look to our own practice) – a practise that is for the benefit of all living things.

So thanks Ayse for sharing.

Taking Note

I wonder if you have ever listened to the dawn chorus, that early morning time when birds break into song? I’ve know times when I’d wished the birds away back to their nests for another hours sleep, for them and especially for me! At this moment I have a CD playing in my laptop of the ‘Dawn Chorus’, A sound portrait of a British woodland at sunrise. This evening I’d been feeling a bit under the weather physically and had been casting about for inspiration. I thought this ‘music’ might help. And it has.

Somebody asked me about ‘pain’, how one dealt with it as a Buddhist. I remember once hearing my Master softly mentioning that somebody needed to understand the difference between ‘being in pain and being in self’. I took a mental note. There is pain, and then there is pain accompanied by self-pity, which goes on and on and…. That’s one way to ‘be in self’. A health professional I was consulting with some years ago said, “Self-pity is an English persons disease”. I took a mental note! It was the most helpful piece of information, not heard as an accusation, and I was able to take it to my heart. I took a mental note.

The birds are still twittering away enthusiastically, there’s a wood pigeon and a pheasant in the distance. A peacock? That can’t be right! Isn’t it amazing how simple things can help lift the spirits and how a chance comment, heard while in pain and not in ‘self’, can change one for the better. Not much of an answer about dealing with pain, however getting things in perspective is a good start. Now I’d better send those birds back to their nests for the night. Time to sleep. One of our monks says, “Never underestimate the restorative power of a good nights sleep.”

Rev. Saido on the Beach

One member of the Telford Priory congregation was in Spain on the 18th March and not able to attend the funeral/reception for Rev. Saidō. This is what she did, aided by her husband, to remember him… The clearing, sorting, recycling and dealing with Rev. Saidō’s business as his executor continues. I anticipate this process taking … Continue reading Rev. Saido on the Beach

Personal Reflections and Insights on Acceptance

Following on with the theme of radical acceptance Dew on The Grass blog is currently posting on the theme of Acceptance. What can I say? Take some time to read these articles, benefit from the insights and truths so clearly and tenderly expressed. I have. I step into the water. The riverbed slopes gently and … Continue reading Personal Reflections and Insights on Acceptance


There is authority, authenticity, a certain ‘power’ that comes from personal insights. I’m privileged to receive such insights, frequently. My correspondent below speaks from personal experience in response to a message where I describe the difficulties I’ve been having with my arm/shoulder. I  hope the following inspires you, helps you as it has me as … Continue reading Motivation