Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Overcoming Pain by Helping Others


Nobody likes pain. Yet, all of us will have experienced painful experiences that we wanted to get rid of, as soon as possible. Various religions, Yoga and modern techniques like Hypnotism advocate several  techniques for the same. It is a necessary technique for each of us, as life is unpredictable and one can come up against any situation any time.

I was also mortally afraid of pain, especially physical. I marveled at people who faced it and emerged triumphant.

However, an experience opened up to me a much-unexpected path to transcend pain.

It was the month of May in Kerala, India. I was visiting a relative and I had to take an old lady to the temple. There was to be a special worship at midday.

We went by car until the temple gate. From there we needed to traverse a stony path that went round the temple to reach the sanctum sanctorum, the inside of the temple.

On placing my bare foot on the stone path, I realized the predicament that I was in. The midday sun blazing overhead had baked the stone slabs so hot that one could not place one's feet on them. The priests themselves used to carry water and throw it forward, and then run along that wet trail, before it dried up. We had taken no such precaution.

I started to run on the stone path, occasionally treading on grass patches, to reach the temple before my feet were completely burned. Then I heard a scream and a yell. It was the old lady. She already had some problems with her gait and now on the hot stone, she was just crying out in agony.

Without thinking, I ran back to her and tried to help her along. I tried to walk her fast, leading over grass patches wherever possible.

She cried all the way. Somehow, we reached the inside of the temple where the worship was going on. Once inside, both of us heaved sighs of relief. I was glad I could help her.

It was then that I noticed a startling fact: I had not experienced any more pain when I started to help her.
Somehow, my helping her had erased the sensation of the burning in my feet. Was it an expansion of consciousness? I do not know.

Looking back, I feel it was an important lesson that I learnt that day:

Helping others helps you overcome your own pains - physical or mental.
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