Initially I hadn’t planned mentioning fear and pain as a means of direct experience, and in reality perhaps you are just as surprised as me by the title of this sixth path of direct experience. However that being said, through pains and fears, mostly physical, one can come to a deeper understanding of oneself and ones own existential situation.
The immediacy of fear and pain compels one to be present in the moment, one cannot so easily be distracted by everyday thoughts that one typically walks around with when something pressing seizes your attention.
Understood from a deeper perspective, the reason why fear and pain compels the subjective experience to direct experience is mainly because the felt imminence of death.
From a philosophical and/or spiritual standpoint, death is one of the most powerful ideas to contemplate. Death means the end of the physical organism and perhaps also the psychological sense of I. I say perhaps because I can certainly see the possibility of an “ecology of souls” before and after a sentient physical being dies. Most people aren’t completely unfamiliar with this concept, though it may have been expressed in different ways, such as reincarnation or the transmigration of souls.
Nonetheless the felt imminence of death has a peculiar tendency of making us appreciate each moment more carefully and thoroughly. Perhaps it is precisely because of this refocusing into direct experience, where death becomes so powerful in making us humble and grateful.
That being said, before we move onwards something has to be made very clear, in no way shape or form am I trying preach the conscious infliction of pain on yourself, oh most certainly not.
Rather what I’m putting forward is the understanding that when the body is under distress, that distress inevitably brings our attention to the present moment. Moreover I also recommend you to be consciously present when fear or pain appears in your life.
In doing so, what are typically seen as misfortunes or hardships can now be seen as opportunities from which you can grow. If this isn’t one of the greatest discoveries I for the life of me don’t know what is.
In other words try to intuitively understand and use your fears and pain, especially bodily pains, as a means of understanding the difference between direct and indirect experience. Pain and fear are instantaneous and immediate happenings in your consciousness, use them well and wisely to grow into direct experience.
Whether it is an illness or an accident, grow!
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized that he was made of immaculate and timeless consciousness when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history, philosophy, egyptology and western esotericism at Uppsala Universitet. He’s also currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.