Sutras 2.16 is my favorite: "the pain which has not come can be avoided." It's a good reminder for me, because I spend a lot of time and energy fearing the pain that has yet to come. Maybe you do, too? Lately I've opened myself up to an ocean of pain, and with that has come a tremendous amount of fear. Against my better judgement and the advice of close counsel, I've jumped in with both feet, with total disregard for depth or temperature or even my bearings.
It's a strange world, this underwater paradise. In daytime, the waters are clear and nearly perfect, teeming with life and new adventures. In the darkness, however, the shadows are deeper, with curled fingers reaching out to pull me under. It doesn't seem fair to share space with ghosts in paradise, and yet that is what my reality has become: a desert island that isn't as deserted as I had originally thought. So I take solace in the sea, treading water for days, surfacing for one breath at a time.
Pain is a great teacher. It allows us to learn more about ourselves and how we connect with everyone around us. It pokes through the illusion that we are separate and reminds us that everything we do (and everyone around us) has the potential to create or alleviate pain (this includes you, my dear).
Teachers and writers open themselves up to painful experiences so that they can save others from pain, or at least help them chew through the tough spots (let this be the most important lesson to those of you out there considering a career change to either writing or teaching… it's a loaded gun). Fear however… fear is only useful in small doses, and only when you're about to cross the street in front of a speeding bus.
Fear is the pain that has not come, wrapped in a delicious lie. It can be impossible to resist. Fear tells you to breathe shallow breaths, because you may not surface completely and could drown if you try to take in more than you can manage.
Faith promises to fill your lungs with air.
Faith swallows fear's bitter pill and says: Tomorrow can hurt less than you think it will. It might even be beautiful.
heyam duhkham anagatam