Are you sure, though, that you are really experiencing pain, experiencing it in the fullest way? “Well, I’m not even certain of that, but I do feel some kind of discomfort. I do experience pain when I’m pushed into a corner, but during the rest of my life, I’m not so certain whether I actually experience pain or not. I do experience pain when somebody hits me, cheats me, or insults me. Then I do feel extreme pain, discomfort, anger, and so forth. But the rest of the time I’m not so sure whether I feel pain as a continual thing happening to me. All the same, I feel that there’s something hanging out that’s bugging me; and I don’t feel absolutely free either. Particularly when I check up on what’s happening with me, I feel funny. I feel some sense of being trapped, but I don’t know what it’s all about. Maybe this is happening, but maybe also I’m just imagining it. I can’t say. Something is happening. Sometimes I feel haunted, and sometimes I feel I’m just being silly—I should forget the whole thing. I should just go out and enjoy myself and do my own thing, whatever I want. But even if I try to do that, I can’t really do it, because I still stop and look back at myself and what I’m doing. And once I begin to check what I’m doing, I feel uncomfortable. Something is bugging me somewhere. Something is happening behind my back, as if I had a huge burden that I’m carrying all the time. But I’m not sure if this is the thing that’s happening to me or I’m just imagining it. Maybe I should stop thinking altogether. But I already thought of that and tried it. The more I try to shake off the watcher, the more I feel I have to make sure that I have shaken him off. I couldn’t shake him off because I was being watched all the time by my shaking-off project that was happening to me.”
Maybe Buddha had similar experiences, even identical ones. There was a sense of ambition to become a spiritual or religious person. Buddha went so far as to leave home. He left his parents and his wife and infant child. He fled from his palace and plunged into the world of yogic teachers, Hindu masters. But still something didn’t work, because in some sense he was trying too hard, trying to become great, the greatest spiritual warrior of the century. He was trying to achieve something; he was concerned with achieving and with saving himself.
That seems to be the problem that we encounter all the time. We feel uncertain because, though we feel we know what direction we should go in, when we try to follow that direction, that itself seems to become a source of ignorance. The direction we were following seems to turn into clouds and clouds of darkness. Finally we begin to lose our sense of direction. But that seems to be the basic point: In relation to that, we discover pain, duhkha. That pain is a self-existing thing that we cannot escape. Beyond the pain, we try to find the source of the pain, the origin of the pain, but we don’t find it. We find bewilderment and fogginess, uncertainty of all kinds.
But that is the discovery of the origin of pain, which is a very important discovery indeed – The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa