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Using a Painful Foot to Understand
Lindy: Dear Daniel, I trust you are well and keeping cool in this hot weather.
I have developed a health issue and I thought, hmm, maybe Daniel might be able to shed light on this and I just might be able to “understand,” “grow,” through the experience.
I am drawn to the issue of identifying with my body right now, as I have developed plantar fasciitis, which is fairly painful. I would like to take this opportunity to understand a little more fully the body/awareness existence.
The scripture tells me I am pure awareness – which to my understanding would not encounter pain.
Is this pain created for a reason? If it is a means to something, how and what? Or is this something awareness has created for me to experience joyfully? To say that it is something that is not real would be an interesting test right now.
Your comments/advice would be appreciated.
Daniel: Dear Lindy, I’m sorry to hear about your health issue. I sympathize with you because I too have been dealing with a very challenging health diagnosis for the past six years: chronic fatigue syndrome. It’s never easy when the jiva is handed some sort of physical complication.
Though it ain’t a fun one, you can definitely use this experience to your advantage.
Whenever possible, use the suffering to cultivate appreciation – appreciation of the fact that the remaining 99% of your body enjoys relatively good health. Accept the pain and accept any mental agitation that may follow. By objectively watching the situation with an attitude of gratitude, a great weight is lifted off you and often makes a space for healing. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, forgive the situation – give it back to Isvara. Everything is on loan here, Lindy, and you have the full right to hand it right back.
There is nothing personal. Isvara is spitting out results based on the needs of the total. Sometimes Lindy will receive a smooth ride and sometimes not. This is the nature of duality.
Apply karma yoga. Understand that you are not the dispenser of the results. Do your best in the given situation and take it easy. With karma yoga comes a calmer mind, and it’s a peaceful (sattvic) mind that allows self-knowledge to do its work.
The jiva will always suffer from some sort of physical agitation because decay is unavoidable. This is just life and applies to all jivas. But we can reduce suffering profoundly by applying self-knowledge. There are two aspects to suffering: (1) gross/physical pain and (2) subtle/mental pain.
Identification to/as the limited body-mind is the crux of suffering. It’s actually the identification, the thought “I am the decaying body,” which tends to cause more suffering than the actual gross/physical pain. Even though the gross – physical – pain may occur, subtracting the weight of mental identification offers great relief.
The solution is to take a stand in awareness as awareness. You are not Lindy but rather the unconcerned awareness that sees Lindy and her pain.
Another good point to add is this: negation doesn’t equal denial. In other words, when Lindy receives unpleasant experiences, she does not deny their existence, but rather negates their reality, meaning she knows very well that they are mithya – and have nothing to do with who she really is.
Liberation is simply discriminating objects (mithya) that arise within your limitless nature, awareness (satya). Another important point to mention is that though existence/experience/mithya is not real, it is not non-existent. Attempting to ignore the apparent reality is not useful.
Existential suffering simply boils down to a mistaken identity crisis. When self-knowledge/discrimination is “firm,” you then remain identified as unconcerned awareness, understanding that you are free from whatever arises. An object is anything other than you, awareness. Lindy is an object known to you.
Though freedom is FOR Lindy (for the suffering person), it’s more accurate to say that liberation is freedom FROM Lindy (from the suffering person). Contemplate this sentence.
Below is a brief response to each point.
Lindy: I am drawn to the issue of identifying with my body right now as I have developed plantar fasciitis, which is fairly painful. I would like to take this opportunity to understand a little more fully the body/awareness existence.
Daniel: The foot is a symbol of understanding. Every time your attention runs to the plantar fasciitis, use it to come back to self-knowledge, to self-understanding. Understand that you are the ever-free awareness that knows Lindy.
Lindy: The scripture tells me I am pure awareness – which to my understanding would not encounter pain.
Daniel: Yes, you are pure awareness. But this does not take away pain experienced by the body-mind instrument. The body-mind vehicle will always experience something. The only thing we can remove is the identification to/as the body-mind. By understanding that you are not the body-mind but the knower of the body-mind results in a sense of confident freedom.
Lindy: Is this pain created for a reason? If it is a means to something, how and what?
Daniel: Simply summed, we can refer to this as prarabdha karma. Prarabdha karmas are the actions slated to play out through the vehicle of the mind-body/sense mechanism. Each jiva has his/her prarabdha karma which will play out.
Lindy: Or is this something awareness has created for me to experience joyfully?
Daniel: You, awareness, don’t create anything; awareness is free from doership and creation. Lindy is a branch of Isvara, and Isvara governs the creating, preserving and destroying. Lindy will have some joyful experiences and some “un-joyful” experiences.
Lindy: To say that it is something that is not real would be an interesting test right now.
Daniel: It’s not real, but it’s not non-existent. It’s not a matter of denying the existence of this experience but rather denying its reality. The definition of real is “something that never changes,” and that only something is you, awareness.
I hope this helps a bit.
You’re welcome to write to me anytime.
~ Much love, Daniel