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back to the school of ‘noble truths’

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Back to the beginning. After three weeks of severe pain from discs bulging at L 3-4-5 of the spine, I began to take a new $4/pop medication that brought reduction of pain (and a few side effects). And then I woke up this morning with renewed pain, not quite as severe as last week, but still remarkable. My immediate response was to mutter, O no, not again, accompanied by a few swear words to go with each movement of the right leg.

The Buddha’s Four Noble Truths speak to my dilemma: pain is natural, suffering is optional. Pain is inevitable—be it emotional, spiritual, or physical pain—what I do with it, how I react to it, that is suffering. Suffering, in a nutshell, arises when what I desire is out of synch with what is.

With the new medication I had become attached to the disappearance of pain: this is better, this feels good, this I want. And so I begun to cling to the new state and resented its change back to pain. Unfortunately, the law of impermanence states trumps my desires in saying that nothing lasts and everything changes.

I take on this assignment for the next few days: • Pay attention to your reactivity.  • Look for everyday examples of impermanence.  • Welcome everything, including pain and resistance to pain.

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