Pain and misfortune – disguises for higher forms of good
Man have I been given a test to deal with over the past several days.
Last Wednesday I re-injured my lower back while sledding with my sons.
I’ve been in non-stop agony since. Even at night when I’m lying down, my sciatic nerve is wide awake.
It’s affecting everything in my life. I’m on medication. I’m rushing through my prayers. I’m high strung so I snap more easily.
It’s interesting that I’m being tested in the exact same areas I’ve written about in my past few posts.
Harnessing the power of pain to reach new heights: Using the power of pain as a catalyst to bring us to higher levels of faith and connection.
Widening the lens to achieve tranquility: Looking at this experience as the nourishment I need at this time – and maintaining a sense of tranquility through the pain.
The mind body connection: Recognizing how repressed painful subconscious emotions contribute to tension in areas of the body which we believe are vulnerable to injury – and tend to camp out there, disguised as pain.
Inspiration or intervention: Clearly there is some intervention going on here, but it’s up to me to build the inspiration now to avoid additional intervention.
Running and returning: While I can’t even imagine running now, the truth is that this painful experience is a “return”, a form of concealment, and I need to use the imprints from previous higher wisdom, achieved while running, to strengthen myself to get through this return.
The Tanya offers priceless wisdom on the subject of pain and misfortune – explaining that we see misfortune only because of our inability to perceive that which derives from a higher, hidden level of the Source. And that, in truth, the “misfortunes” are actually blessings in disguise. In actuality, they represent an even higher level of good than the revealed good – since they originate in a higher world.
The Alter Rebbe explains that since misfortune is really nothing but a disguise for the higher form of good that derives from the “hidden world,” the option as to whether it will bring us either joy or misery depends on our priorities. If we consider our physical life all-important, we will indeed be miserable – while if nearness to the Source is our primary concern we will rejoice, since nearness to the Source is found in greater measure in the “hidden world,” where the good that is hidden in misfortune derives from.
Those who rejoice in suffering are therefore called “lovers of the Source,” and are rewarded by being granted the vision of “the sun emerging in its might.” Since in this world they disregarded the externals and ignored the veil of misfortune hiding the good within – choosing instead to concern themselves with the deeper aspect of good and of the Source lying behind the veil – the Source rewards them in the World to Come “measure for measure,” by casting off the veils that surround Him – and revealing Himself in His full glory to those who love Him.
I believe without a shadow of a doubt in the higher mercy of the Source of my pain. So while it hurts like mad, I feel settled deep inside – comforted by the wisdom of the sages – and have total faith – as scary as this can seem at times.
The Source relates to us through a continuous process of revealing and concealing Himself. Naturally, during times of concealment, a person can become prone to feelings of disconnection from the Source.
Our ascent toward spiritual evolution requires tests of our faith prior to reaching higher levels. This is what all of our forefathers went through – and it’s the way the Source operates with us. I can look at this pain as “concealment”, but I can also look at this pain as “revelation”. I’m at the point where concealment is in itself a revelation because I’ve seen the pattern of how the Source operates in my life. The sages were thanking the Source for everything that happened to them, especially the most painful experiences.
So at times when intense pain is creating a seeming disconnection – a concealment in our lives – really, at those moments, we are able to see the Source most clearly – there is no disconnection. The pain is actually a “hidden” expression of higher love. Like acupuncture – the needle prick that opens the flow of energy.
Pain is a tool of the Source – and the Source is all merciful – so there is no need to get scared or feel disconnected because of pain – we can use it to get closer to the Source.
I’m not going to let anything stand in the way of my connection to the Source. As long as the Source provides me with air to breathe I am a guest in His world and grateful for the opportunity to grow closer to Him. Grateful for the opportunity to even feel pain. Grateful for the emunah that my pain is from higher mercy.
I’m going to use this to practice what I believe in, and share. I trust the Source no matter what He sends me through. I’ve already given my life over to the Source. With emunah, there is no disconnection. “Concealment” is the opportunity to put our emunah to practice. To build our strength – to increase our perception.
So I’m just gonna keep walking forward, as painful as it is.