Suffering is not caused by pain but by resisting pain

nathan's picture

Average: 4.7 (22 votes)

The mind does not tell the difference between suffer and pain.
The truth is that pain and suffer are two different things. Pain (emotional or physical) is a feeling, a feeling of a thing undesirable that is there in the body or in the psyche, a thing that inflicts a feeling of pain (a painful emotion, an injury etc.) while suffering is our response out of identification with the pain. Watch it and you will see the difference by yourself.

The mind believes that suffering is caused by the pain and thus tries to resist the pain.
The truth is that suffering is caused by the very resistance to the pain, not by the pain itself!

This opposition in views between the mind and the truth is the greatest misconception, a misconception that leads to the tragedy of human beings.

The mind in its very attempt to avoid suffering causes the suffering. What greater tragedy can you find? The supposed antidote happens actually to be the poison itself.

Instead of resisting a certain pain you have, try for once to accept it, give it a try, what can you lose? Acceptance means to let the pain be there, not trying to articulate a way to chase it away, not trying to reason it away.

When you reach a true and total acceptance, you find yourself suddenly disconnected mentally from the pain. The pain is still there and is still sensed but you are not affected by it anymore, you do not suffer from it anymore. You don't mind whether it is there or not. The pain is still there but you do not suffer, you find yourself living side by side with the pain and being able to smile at it as if it is a pain of somebody else. This is the mental state which is sometimes called the IDGF state. It is hard to describe this strange mental state in words, it may sound contradicting and so unexpected to the mind. Try it and you will see the truth in it by your own experience.

santthosh kumaar's picture

theortical sprituality is based on the false self.

Hi nathan,
If you want to get rid of pain you have to get rid of happiness also. That is, you have to get rid of duality which is present as mind. So understanding mind is very much necessary rather then indulging in some theoretical spirituality. All theories hold good when it is viewed and judged on base of false self or ego. But when it is viewed and judge on the base of true self they are mere illusion. Please verify validity of my suggestion you become aware of the fact fatter and obstacles in spiritual pursuit.
With respect and regards

santthosh kumaar | Mon, 06/30/2008 - 04:18
nancy pro's picture

It is very practical

Nathan doesn't suggest anything theoretical, on the contrary, he gives a simple universal observation that can be experienced immediately after you realize that the resistance to pain causes the suffering, not the pain itself. Just check it on a sample mental pain you carry - when you release the resistance and submit to the pain, there is no unease, annoyance, distress, difficulty anymore - the pain is there like it is a pain of someone else.

nancy pro | Thu, 01/08/2009 - 22:40
leo's picture

Precious observation

Maybe the most precious and crucial observation. And no one is asked to believe in it blindly or adopt it as a theory - it can be easily tested in practice.

Most of the minds do not know this or tend to forget it and return to old conditioning.

The plain way it is presented here is a great service. Thanks!

leo | Sat, 01/24/2009 - 19:14
Quantum's picture

Real life example

I got mad1 this afternoon, as I often do when the same trigger manifested itself for the millionth time.

I knew I was mad1 (pain), and I got MAD2 about it (resistance). Then I realized, if this pain (being mad(1&2) continues, it will attract by Law of Attraction more negative situations. Eckart Tolle says "Accept Whatever Is." So, okay, I decided to accept that I was mad1. Then I wondered if being still mad1 would attract negative situations. Still I allowed myself to be mad1 without getting MAD2 that I was mad1.

Then I realized, that being mad1 (i.e. "pain") does not attract negative situations if I am conscious of it and if I am not MAD2 about (resisting) being mad(2) either. I further realized that being MAD2 (the resistance) about being mad1 (pain) is what attracts negative situations. Not the being mad1 (pain)--on the condition that it (mad1, pain)is not subconscious.

So, I allowed myself be mad1, and nothing bad happened.

The pain (mad1), did not attract any negative situations (cause suffering), because I was conscious of it, simply allowed it and watched it like a movie, and did not get MAD2 (resist) it.

I smiled.

Like this.


Quantum | Fri, 09/18/2009 - 06:39
Quantum's picture


My above post might be confusing to read, besides I noticed one typo.

I will restate my concurrence here: Resistance to pain is what causes me suffering (attracts negative events, people, and circumstances). Not the pain itself--and so long as the pain is not subconscious.

Quantum | Fri, 09/18/2009 - 06:47
Phroggy's picture

Your realization makes me

Your realization makes me smile too. :)

Phroggy | Sat, 09/19/2009 - 02:13
Quantum's picture

Bad memory.

Thanks Phroggy.

And I just realized I have a terribly bad memory. Posting on this board is making me see unpleasant things about myself.

But, that's okay. Here onward, I allow myself to feel bad (pain).

Is this what Jesus was demonstrating during his last 48 hours?

I mention him a lot because he reminds me alot of Eckart Tolle.



Quantum | Sat, 09/19/2009 - 03:07
Gilana's picture

Watching - Awareness or Acceptance?

Is this what you are talking about?

I was in terrible pain the other day, spiritual pain and emotional pain. I made a conscious decision to watch and poof! All judgement was gone. As the experiment went on, I noticed: with practice it got easier to stay in the watching and not get distracted, I could reason but I couldn't judge, I could see what was happening in my body easily, I could engage in any emotion that occured naturally as long as I didn't start thinking about past or future, and I didn't resist anything.

Interesting enough, I asked my 14 year old son to try walking around the house like he was a movie camera. Just watch where he was moving and what was there. I asked him how he felt, and he said Good! (If you have a 14 year old son you will know how rare that is!)

What do you think?

Gilana | Sat, 11/21/2009 - 02:25
enlight's picture

Acceptance and observation are two qualities of the same thing

The acceptance and observation are two qualities of the same action or rather dis-action. Our natural reaction pattern is to resist and suppress. In there is an excellent explanation why we have this pattern in the first place. When we overuse and misuse this reaction pattern all sorts of suffering and problems arise. When we do not resist the pain - we accept its existence and observe it which means we are willing to live side by side with it instead of trying to eliminate it, some magic happens: our identification with the pain breaks and it is more like a pain of someone else, we can be sympathetic but it is not our pain anymore, it is there and is not inflicting suffering anymore.

enlight | Sat, 11/21/2009 - 10:23
Gilana's picture


- I love your cartoon...laughed and laughed

Gilana | Sat, 11/21/2009 - 02:28
Quantum's picture

My observations....

Stimulus > Response > Emotion (somatic sensation) > Response > Emotion

Stimulus: Initially an external event. Dog barking, a noise, a situation, anything external to you. You miss the bus. Partner yells at you. Of itself, this may or may not directly cause suffering. For example, one person may toss and turn while the dog barks. Another may not even notice the dog barking and sleep peacefully.

Response: A mental thought against (resistance) that stimulus. For example: "Forsooth! Methinks the neighbor's dog shouldst not be barking thus!"

Emotion: A physical sensation corresponding to the thought appears in the body. The labels for this somatic sensation is in the range of negative to positive. Anger to neutral to joy, as a subset in that range. Either way, you either feel good dog is barking, feel bad the dog is barking, or don't care/don't notice.

The Bad Part: This emotion (somatic sensation) resulting from mental resistance (opposing thought) to the stimulus (dog barking/pain) is what causes suffering, keeping you awake. Not the dog barking. Remember, another may not mind or may not even notice the dog barking and sleep right through it. This emotion will also attract and manifest (for me it does) more bad stimuli to happen which then creates a vicious cycle of stimlus-response-emotion-bad things happening, etc.

The worse part: In addition, this emotion itself is now "A STIMULUS" too!

oh my!

Why am I here? To break free, so that stimuli, external, or internal (emotions) will no longer manifest bad things for me. Salvation is what I seek. Religion did not give it to me.

Quantum | Tue, 11/24/2009 - 19:27
Quantum's picture

so...Apathy = Heaven?

Apathy is the doorway to Heaven?

Quantum | Tue, 11/24/2009 - 19:35
not_me's picture

Define "apathy"

Define "apathy"

not_me | Sun, 04/25/2010 - 17:09
Quantum's picture


You can look it up in the dictionary. But in case you don't have one:

ap a thy, n, [< Gr, a-, without + pathos, emotion], 1. lack of emotion. 2. indifference.

Quantum | Sun, 04/25/2010 - 23:46
joejo's picture

Response comes from Conditioning

Now the response to the stimuli, in this case the dog barking & that it shouldn't comes from conditioning.

Can one be aware of the mechanical- ness of the response? Any reaction that I shouldn't or how very sad its my bad day is more of these mood thoughts.

We have a repository of these thoughts some of which we specialize in. One needs to be aware of this chain reaction and observe this without justification or condemnation.

The initial response is swift & often happens without noticing. What one can do is not indulge in a train of thoughts some of which connect to all our past hurts and drag us to the pits.

To me stopping this train of thoughts or chain reaction is acceptance or awareness. To un-condition is a long journey that may guarantee no immunity from more pain.

joejo | Mon, 04/26/2010 - 11:22
not_me's picture

of course i asked for your

of course i asked for your own definition or rather connotation because i suspect that there lies the problem if you see IDGF as apathy.

not_me | Mon, 04/26/2010 - 12:08
love.magic's picture

Acceptance vs Fighting

I agree that acceptance of pain is what we are meant to do rather than fighting against it.

I find this to be true with many things. Fighting can only lead to suffering. Acceptance leads to peace...both inwards and outwards.

Of course it's easier said than done, but I believe that by accepting pain we can deal with it more effectively than wallowing in it or allowing ourselves to "suffer". Pain is there to teach us something about ourselves and about the world. It helps us to learn coping strategies and sometimes forces us to seek the help of others when we cannot tackle a life challenge on our own. We are all here to help each other, not to endure everything by ourselves. This helps us recognize that we are all connected (which is a beautiful idea, no?)

Pain can also propel you to become greater than you were before. Not only does it make you stronger, but it also makes you wiser...if you use it to achieve this instead of simply staying in that state forever and letting it defeat you.

Those are just my thoughts...hope they speak to you, somehow! :)

love.magic | Thu, 10/21/2010 - 01:36
Elijah_NatureBoy's picture

I Concur!

After several readings of your post I conclude I agree.

Earth is a place of duality for the purpose of teaching man how to control themselves so, because we are conditioned to reject pain, mental or physical, and seek pleasure we suffer when we have the things we disapprove of. Therefore I agree with you.

----Elijah "NatureBoy"----
Presenting SEEDS OF LIFE @

Elijah_NatureBoy | Tue, 03/20/2012 - 01:06