Pain is a Universal Teacher. Genuine growth requires us to move past our pain to address the point of our need.
Try as we may, I’m not certain that humans will ever fully grasp the beautiful complexities of our world, the ever-expanding universe, what happens following death or even our place in the midst of it all. It makes me feel both small and more alive to consider immortality and the ticking clock on the wall. It is certainly in our curious human nature, however, to keep exploring and pondering such mysteries.
I also think it is very human to rail against injustices – both big and small. From how we grew up to hotbed politics to the vagaries of an imperfect justice system and the fight for human rights or basic needs such as decent health care…there is so much fodder for the discontented. What to do with it all? Some folks internalize and suffer stress-related diseases while others take up a “call to arms,” both figuratively through political action and literally through bombings or mass shootings. Other folks opt to withdraw from life, deeming society virtually unfit to inhabit. At any rate, our collective stress levels soar, while our contentment levels plummet – a condition not healthy for anyone.
Well, if we can’t change any of the madness around us and we’d really like to quell any possible madness within us, there is at least one approach we can use that smoothes down the rough edges of life and makes our journey a bit easier. It is what I call listening to the Universal Teacher. The concept isn’t about religion; rather, it’s about an ideology, a frame of reference or even a way of life. It goes something like this: In every challenging situation faced, we sincerely ask the question, “What is the Universe trying to teach me right now?” And then comes the hard part: we must shut up and listen. Whether this answer comes on the wings of angels, from universal energy, our collective unconscious or the depths of our own beings…it doesn’t matter. What matters is that if we genuinely ask and are open to it, answers will come.
We don’t have to think of the Universal Teacher as a persona; it may simply be revealed through predictable responses. For example, if we keep melting into fits of rage while stuck in traffic, we might find ourselves stuck in traffic a great deal more. Why? Because growth requires us to move past our pain to address the point of our need. At our greatest pain points, the Universe offers priceless teaching moments, as we will consider new courses of action otherwise unimaginable in order to quell our pain.
Pain has always been one of our greatest teachers. For example, when we suffer loss, undiscovered strengths arise. When we object to injustice, the edges of our own values stand in relief. When we fail at anything, we are brought closer to success because we learn what not to do (so why do we fear failure?). No matter our beliefs or backgrounds, our lives will always improve when we sift every moment for the growth-laden lessons being offered, embracing the chance for insight, change and healing. Everything that happens to us, no matter how tragic or grandiose, has such hidden benefits. Once we pull the pain off it and examine it in a new light, we will find a shining jewel…a gift from the Universal Teacher. It is up to us to act on it.