Last year I was flying to the Maldives via Sri Lanka airport and picked up a little book called ‘Opening the door of your heart, and other Buddhist tales of Happiness’ by Ajahn Brahm.
It was a lucky find! A great book full of short tales of wisdom told with humour. I highly recommend it to anyone :)
Anyway, I picked the book up again to re-read some of the stories, and here is a great one about fear and pain.
Fear is a personal enemy of mine.. I fear about the future, about the state of the world, about death, about losing loved ones.. natural fears I suppose! But what does that pain or fear serve other than more fear and pain?
Next time I am anxious fearing something, I will picture the monk in this story, be brave, smile and get on with it!!
TM or how to transcend-dental medication
By Ajahn Brahm
‘A member of our monastery has very bad teeth. He has needed to have many teeth pulled out, but he’d rather not have the anesthetic. Eventually he found a dental surgeon in Perth who was willing to extract his teeth without anesthetic. He has been there several times. He finds it no problem.
Allowing a tooth to be extracted by a dentist without anesthetic might seem impressive enough, but this character went one better. He pulled out his own tooth without anesthetic.
We saw him, outside the monastery workshop, holding a freshly pulled tooth smeared with his blood, in the claws of an ordinary pair of pliers. It was no problem: he cleaned the pliers of blood before he returned them to the workshop.
I asked him how he managed to do such a thing. What he said exemplifies why fear is the major ingredient of pain..
‘When I decided to pull out my own tooth- it was such a hassle going all the way to the dentist- it didn’t hurt. When I walked to the workshop, that didn’t hurt. When I picked up the pair of pliers, it didn’t hurt. When I held the tooth in the grip of the pliers, it still didn’t hurt. When I wiggled the pliers and pulled, it hurt then, but only for a couple of seconds. Once the tooth was out, it didn’t hurt much at all. It was only five seconds of pain, that’s all.
You, my reader, probably grimaces when you read this true story. Because of fear, you probably felt more pain than he did! If you tried the same feat, it would probably hurt terribly, even before you reached the workshop to get the pliers. Anticipation- fear- is the major ingredient of pain.’