What is the difference between pain and suffering?
What is pain? Pain is a protective mechanism. Right now, you would not have the necessary intelligence to preserve yourself if there was no pain in your body. Wherever there is no pain in your body, look what you have done. Your hair, for example, how could you cut it into different shapes and sizes? Only because there is no pain. Suppose there was no pain in your nose, in the name of fashion, how many ways would you have cut it by now? Wherever there is a little bit of pain in your body, you put a few holes in it, but if there was no pain at all, you would cut your body into ribbons. If you were walking on the street and a bicycle came towards you, you would step back, not out of humility, but because you know the consequence of pain.
So, pain is good for you. Pain is a natural process, but suffering is not a natural process. It is always your creation. If pain comes and you respond to it, there will be no suffering; but if you react to it, there will be suffering. There are any number of examples like this. In South India, there was a yogi and sage called Sadashiva Brahmendra. Sadashiva was a nirkaya, which literally means "bodiless yogi." How does somebody become bodiless? If you sit in meditation, you may find that your hands, legs or some parts of the body are missing. They have not gone anywhere, but in your experience they are missing simply because you have transcended the limitations of the senses in a limited way. It can happen to the whole body. If you touch the body, it will be there, but in your experience, it is not there. It is a wonderful way to live. You are in the body but you are no more the body; that is what it ultimately means to be spiritual. In your experience, you are no longer bound by the limitations of the body.
Sadashiva was a nirkaya, he had no sense of the body. And because he had no sense of the body, he did not think about wearing clothes, he just walked naked. He happened to walk into the king's garden while the king was relaxing with his queens. The king became angry, "Who is this fool walking naked in front of my wives?" He sent his soldiers to find out who he was. The soldiers called Sadashiva Brahmendra from behind, but he didn't turn back, he just kept on walking. The soldiers became angry and took out a sword and chopped off his right arm, but he still kept walking. He did not even break a stride. Now the soldiers were terrified, "This is not an ordinary man. We chopped off his arm and he keeps walking." So the king, soldiers and everyone else went and fell at his feet, and brought him back to the garden. Sadashiva Brahmendra lived there for the rest of his life. Even today, this place is preserved in a certain way.
The example that most people in the West probably understand best is Jesus. If somebody were to drive nails into your hands and legs, what you would do? You would scream and yell and curse the whole world. But it seems he said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Could a man say this if he was suffering? There was definitely pain in his body. His body was probably much more sensitive than yours, so definitely there was pain in his body, but there was no suffering. Otherwise, a man could not speak like this.
Pain is a natural process in the body. Suffering is self created. Once you stop suffering, you are suddenly free from what is happening to your body, and you are free from what is happening to the world. Once the possibility of suffering is taken away from your life, you suddenly have no issues with the world; you can just live your life the way you want. Only when the fear of suffering is no more will you walk full stride and dare to explore the full potential of the life process that you are.
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