Thursday, March 29, 2007

BiPolar pain & BiPolar suffering.

My one week break in South Africa's Tsitsikama National Park allowed me to catch up on my Buddhist podcasts. (the pic is a shadow of the buddha that sits on my cd rack caught at sunrise)

It also gave me time to reflect on my friend z0tl's comments 2 weeks ago, that the bipolar sufferer that attains enlightenment no longer suffers.

Strictly speaking, the Z-man is right. The 4 Noble Truths - the foundation of Buddhism - are centred on suffering and how the practitioner can become released from suffering. *

But a lot of this debate is simply a matter of semantics. "Suffering" it turns out can be broken down into Pain and Pure Suffering. Pain is the thing that causes the suffering (the radical moodswings in the case of BiPolar), and Pure Suffering is the way we perceive/handle/relate to this pain.

And for sure, once a Buddhist has attained enlightenment, pure suffering ceases. But not the PAIN. The thing, the cause, the radical moodswings, are still there. But we no longer suffer from them. As always its about the HOW. How we relate to the pain, with what process we perceive it. Kind of like the Indian Fire Walker - the red hot coals don't go away - just the old process of relating to them.

So yes, meditate fellow BiPolar sufferers, it can only ever help you, and if you're lucky enough to put in more than an hour a day - you will be fruitfully rewarded.


* Proviso: actually "suffering" is the common translation from the original "Dhukka", but there is much contention about the accuracy of the translation. Personally I have my own translation - "seperateness" (as in opposite to non-duality) but that is a whole nother movie.


  1. Interesting. Did a 7 meter fire walk, where the coals are perceived as cool beach sand. Conversely, ice cubes become weapons of torture, because a person can be made to perceive them as hot coals.

    On a different track, the shamanic view is that mental illness signals the birth of a healer. Mental disorder is a spiritual crisis or spiritual emergency and for the healer to be born, should be viewed as such.

    Maybe meditation assists this process.


  2. the idea is to accept the pain, feel it, roll with it, learn to love it, or acknowledge that it's ok to hate the pain, right?

    damn, i gotta learn how to meditate. how the hell do you turn off the extraneous bullshit?

  3. well then, you can start by watching SFjane's videos on teh taoist method...

    ps: i'm of teh rinzai zen inspired sqool of endarkenment, we are a bit mo hardcore in our method:z but yeh, those 3 videos have got it down cold for anyone who really wants to get into a serious practice.

    pps: the method is not important, picking ONE you're comfortable with and sticking to it is.

  4. as far as subtler forms of suffering, boredom is a tremendous one, especially after you've run out of forms to experiment with [who knew being a tree is so much fun]...

    ascetic practices that focus on being able to tune out from [physical] pain won't help a bit when it comes to getting off that pesky [dharma] wheel.

    ps: traditional tibetan buddhism views mental illness as a result of terrible bad karma in the past and decrees all you can do is rejoice in thinking it's burning fast now and you'll have better luck at freeing your mind next time; this one, you're utterly fucked!

    pps: that is why tibetan buddhists have been so persecuted throughout time, you don't wanna fuck with teh mentally interesting out there, they will make a headline out of you! yes, i'm dead serious, foo:z!

  5. Sounds great. But how do you keep yourself from falling asleep during meditation?

  6. I wanna know how you keep your mind from running 16 different ways ................

  7. i wish i could quiet my brain enough to meditate.

    ps-lamictal isn't giving me headaches.

    pps-love the picture


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