The Principles of Pain and Pleasure


Pain and pleasure are intrinsic parts of our lives. Pain comes as a shadow of pleasure. Therefore, people are so much afraid of pain that they repress pain, they avoid any situation that brings pain and they go on dodging pain. Finally, they stumble upon the fact that if pain is to be avoided, pleasure also has to be avoided. That's why some of us avoid pleasure, which is simply avoiding all possibilities of pain.
We know that if we avoid pleasure, then naturally great pain is not possible. But walking on the plain ground with no peaks or valleys is like living a dead life, without any aliveness. 
Life exists between this polarity and this tension between pain and pleasure makes one capable of creating great music, because music exists only in this tension. To destroy the polarity is like living a dull, stale, dusty life without any meaning and never knowing what splendour means. It is like missing life. The man who wants to know life and live life has to accept and embrace death. They come together; they are two aspects of a single phenomenon.
Osho observes, "That's why growth is painful. You have to go into all those pains that you have been avoiding. It hurts. You have to go through all those wounds that somehow you have managed not to look at. But the deeper you go into pain, the deeper is your capacity to go into pleasure. If you can go into pain to the uttermost limit, you will be able to touch heaven. To be free of pain the pain has to be accepted, inevitably and naturally."
Pain is pain - a simple painful fact. Suffering, however, is only and always the refusal of pain, the claim that life should not be painful. It is the rejection of a fact - the denial of life and of the nature of things. Where there is no fear of death, what is there to die? Man is unique among all other creatures in his knowledge of death and in his laughter. Wonderfully then, he can even make of death a new thing: he can die laughing."
Man is only aware of two things which no animal is: one is laughter, another is death. It is only man who has the consciousness of death and the capacity to laugh. Growth is facing the reality, encountering the fact, whatsoever it is, and pain is simply pain; there is no suffering in it. Suffering comes from our desire that the pain should not be there, that there is something wrong in pain. 
If we watch and witness, we will be surprised. For example, if I have a headache: the pain is there but suffering is not there. Suffering is a secondary phenomenon, pain is primary. When the headache is there, the pain is there; it is simply a fact. There is no judgment about it. It is neither good nor bad, and if we don't give it any value; it is just a fact. The rose is a fact, so is the thorn. The day is a fact, so is the night. The head is a fact, so is the headache. We simply take note of it. 
Buddha taught his disciples that when you have a headache, simply say twice - "Headache, headache." Take note. But don't evaluate, don't say, "Why? Why has this headache happened to me? It should not happen to me." The moment you say, "It should not," you bring suffering in. Here suffering is created by you, not by the headache. Suffering is your antagonistic interpretation, suffering is your denial of the fact. The moment you say, "It should not be," you have started avoiding it, you have started turning yourself away from it.
One may like to be occupied in something so that he can forget it - the pain - divert and distract himself but that will be just distracting himself. If the pain is not witnessed, that pain will be absorbed by the system. Osho gives this unique meditation key: "If you can witness your headache without taking any antagonistic attitude, without avoiding it, without escaping from it; if you can just be there, meditatively there - "Headache, headache" - if you can just simply see it, the headache will go in its time. I am not saying that it will go miraculously, that just by your seeing it will go. It will go in its time. But it will not be absorbed by your system, it will not poison your system. It will be there, you will take note of it, and it will be gone. It will be released. When you witness a certain thing in yourself, it cannot enter into your system. It always enters when you avoid it, when you escape from it. When you become absent then it enters into your system."
If we can go on seeing our pains, we will not be accumulating them. We have not been taught the right clue, so we go on avoiding. Then we accumulate so much pain, we are afraid to face it and accept it.
Only psychological pain can be dissolved. The other pain, the physical pain, is part of life and death and there is no way to dissolve it. But it never creates a problem. The problem is only when we are thinking of it. We think of old age and become afraid, but old people are not trembling. we think of illness and become afraid, but when the illness has already happened, there is no fear, there is no problem. One accepts it as a fact.
The real problem is always psychological. The physical pain is part of life. When we start thinking about it, it does not remain a physical pain; it becomes psychological. Osho points out: "The first thing to be understood is: If you can dissolve the psychological pain, no problem is left. Then you start living in the moment. "Psychological" means: of the past, of the future, never of the present. Mind never exists in the present. In the present, reality exists, not the mind. Mind exists in the past and the future, and in past and future, reality does not exist.
Psychological problems are the only problems. We can become paranoid, we can become split and paralyzed because of fear but this has nothing to do with reality. Life is never a problem. Man has tremendous capacity to adjust to the fact, but man has no capacity to adjust to the future. Once you try to protect yourself and secure yourself in the future, then you will be in turmoil, in a chaos. We will start to fall apart. 
If we become afraid, this is just your psychology. Something has to be done to our mind and meditation is nothing but an effort to look at reality without the mind because that is the only way to look at reality. If the mind is there it distorts, it corrupts. Meditation is dropping the mind and seeing the reality - direct, immediate, face to face. Then there is no problem. Reality has never created any problem for anybody. A problem needs space and in the present moment there is no space. Things only happen, there is no time to think about it. One can think about the past because there is distance; and also about the future because there is distance. 
A problem arises when something is not there and we want it to be there, or when something is there and we don't want it to be there. A problem is always psychological: "Why is it there?" Now this is all psychological. Who is to say why it is there? There is nobody to answer. Only explanations can be given, but those are not really answers. Explanations are simple. It is very simple: "Pain is there because pleasure is there. Pleasure cannot exist without pain".
If we want a life absolutely painless, then we will have to live a life absolutely devoid of pleasure. They come together in one package. They are not two things really; they are not different, not separate, and cannot be separated.
But man has been doing so through the centuries: separating, to somehow have all the pleasures of the world and not have any pain. But this is not possible. The more pleasures we have, the more amount of pain also we will have. The bigger the peak, the deeper will be the valley by the side. You want no valleys and you want big peaks. Then the peaks cannot exist; they can exist only with valleys. The valley is nothing but a situation in which a peak becomes possible. The peak and the valley are joined together. You want pleasure and you don't want pain.
Pain and pleasure go together like night and day, like birth and death, like love and hate.
Naina Rajkumari (Ma Prem Naina) is associated with Osho World Foundation and travels widely facilitating workshops and seminars. Born in Jorhat, she was initiated as a Osho Sannyas in 2003 at Oshodham, New Delhi.