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insights from a forest monk

I like to read Buddhist books because it serves a radical narrative compared to the ones we’ve been served in mainstream society. It teaches us to understand the nature of our suffering,…

the contrast of nine years

A couple of days ago I had a day surgery for an infected skin cyst. It was minor but very painful. I couldn’t help but think about another previous skin cyst surgery…

there’s no protection from pain and grief

Then he said, “I thought this Buddhist shit was supposed to protect you.” Pema looked at him and sighed. “Jarvis,” she said, “there’s no protection from pain and grief. It’s a fantasy to think we can be protected. You wouldn’t want to not feel grief when someone dies. What kind of person would that make you? A very coldhearted person.”

on processing books for kindling

Out of four weeks of a month if I am lucky I’m relatively well for two, and sick for the other two. I have tried to incorporate a daily routine for years…

Love is the burning point of life

Love is the burning point of life, and since all life is sorrowful, so is love. The stronger the love, the more the pain. MOYERS: But love bears all things. CAMPBELL: Love itself is a pain, you might say—the pain of being truly alive.

But pain is part of there being a world at all

James Joyce has a memorable line: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” And the way to awake from it is not to be afraid, and to recognize that all of this, as it is, is a manifestation of the horrendous power that is of all creation. The ends of things are always painful. But pain is part of there being a world at all.

acupuncture stops pain by stimulating

...acupuncture stops pain by stimulating the release of endorphins into the cerebrospinal fluid. We were able to demonstrate that it was indeed the flow of endorphins that caused the pain relief, because when we used an endorphin antagonist (naloxone) to block the opiate receptors, the pain-relief effects of acupuncture were reversed.

Pain and body image are closely related

Pain and body image are closely related. We always experience pain as projected into the body. When you throw your back out, you say, “My back is killing me!” and not, “My pain system is killing me.” But as phantoms show, we don’t need a body part or even pain receptors to feel pain. We need only a body image, produced by our brain maps. People with actual limbs don’t usually realize this, because the body images of our limbs are perfectly projected onto our actual limbs, making it impossible to distinguish our body image from our body. “Your own body is a phantom,” says Ramachandran, “one that your brain has constructed purely for convenience.”