' . . . All the time in the world'
by Ajahn Sumedho
. . . As we sit here during this retreat, we have to pay attention to things that are not at all interesting. They may even be unpleasant and painful. To patiently endure things rather than to run off in search of something interesting is a good discipline, isn't it? It is good to be able to just endure the boredom, the pain, the anger, the greed -- all these things -- instead of always running away from them. . . . Patience is such an important virtue. If we have no patience, there is absolutely no possibility of getting enlightened. Be extremely patient. . . .
I used to like the kind of meditation where I could sit and get very calm -- and then when pain would arise in the body, I'd want to get rid of it so that I could stay in that state of calm. Then I began to see that wanting to get rid of pain was a miserable state of mind. Sometimes we sit for several hours; sometimes all night long. You can run away from it, but after a while you begin to come to terms with physical pain. I've used practice like 'having all the time in the world to be with pain,' rather than struggling to get rid of it so that I could come back to my 'real' meditation. I've learned to take time to be with the pains in my body if they come up in consciousness, rather than trying to get some bliss.
Somehow, when I would say, 'I have all the time in the world, the rest of my life, to be with this pain,' it would stop the tendency to want to get rid of it. My mind would actually slow down for long periods of time without following or creating a desire. Some of you have this idea of conquering pain, getting over the 'pain threshold' -- but that's a disaster. . . .