By turning pain into pleasure, I was simply feeding on pain in a more delicious form.
There’s a peculiar satisfaction that comes with being able to endure pain that’s similar to the perverse satisfaction that comes from inflicting pain on others.
If we look closely, this elevated feeling isn’t that different from indulging in our favorite foods.
Yet the shameless consumption of food is often frowned upon, whereas the willingness to withstand pain is often celebrated.
There is some merit to self-sacrifice, but it isn’t an entirely blameless act.
It arises from a patronizing sense of self that unfortunately can to manifest in various forms in unsuspecting ways. It happens when we participate in the tradition of gratuity at a restaurant and catch ourselves wanting to give a larger tip to a server who we believe is of a lower social status and less fortunate than we are.
We do so to feed on both a tasty dish and a satisfyingly superior sense of self.
Why can’t we just give with the intention of supporting another being like ourselves? Why do we need to place ourselves above someone else?
We’re all beings. We’re all hungry. We’re all feeding.
We should look for ways to eat healthier from a physiological standpoint, a psychological standpoint and a spiritual standpoint — one that does less harm to ourselves and the people around us.
What the abbot of the monastery wanted me to do was to fully understand pain—not to simply endure it or transform it into pleasure.
That’s when I’d finally overcome pain.
That’s when I ultimately wouldn’t be hungry anymore.