The following first appeared in the private email list IVy-subscribers,
which was available to all those who subscribed to the
printed magazine, International Viewpoints.

This is PAIN-philly clear (I hope)
by Phil Spickler
16 Dec 00

Dear Friends who enjoy the commonality of suffering that inevitably comes
with the urge to exist (I believe this was the opening sentence of a lecture
I heard by Gotama Buddha some time ago),
       One thing I feel that can be said for pain is that it hardly ever
needs to be defined.  I think if someone really required a definition, one
should just give said person a hammer and ask them to put a finger down on a
hard unyielding surface and give the end of that finger a good whack with the
hammer.  Now there's a good nonverbal understanding or sense of what pain is.
 Some folks might take a little more than that, but I think if you put your
mind to it you could soon help them to a direct experience of pain.

       It sure seems as though every living thing (well, just about every
living thing) is capable, to one degree or another, of experiencing pain --
and for very good reasons, too.  It, pain, is the handiest way of letting a
living thing know that damage or harm, threat to survival, is taking or has
taken place, and that it's time for damage control, containment, and
prevention of future harm of this nature to get going.  And, since just about
every living thing has that urge to survive, pain, in spite of the bad name
it's gotten, has worked the miracle of ensuring the longevity of most
species, all the way from the top to the bottom of the phylogenetic

       I'm not so sure it's as easy to define "aberration" without getting
pretty narrow in its definition as it is to define "pain" by such simple and
direct example.  On the other hand, if someone does hit their finger pretty
hard with a hammer when they're putting a nail in to hang their Christmas
wreath on, the ensuing behavior could, by some standards, be considered
aberrated.  And if the pain that one experiences when hitting the finger with
a hammer were to continue unabated, I believe the longer it went on, the more
aberrated would be the expression of said person; and if there were no way to
relieve th initial shock and pain of striking that finger, if we could
imagine it continuing, perhaps even intensifying, over a period of time such
as a day or two, and the person could find no relief from said pain, I do
believe that in a day or two or three, we would have someone that exhibited
all those things that we have come to think of as crazy, insane, or extremely
aberrated.  I think it would be very hard, if they happened to be writing in
to the IVy list, to hear much from them that wouldn't cause Ant to say "I
think we'd better close the list down."

       So I think in some cases that it's safe to say that if pain has much
duration through time, and of course depending upon its degree, it can
certainly cause most folks to exhibit a great deal of aberration.  Now I
don't think of aberration as an absolute, as there are forms of behavior that
seem aberrated in one cultural context that do not seem aberrated in another,
and I feel that must be taken into account when we use the word "aberration,"
and not make it some kind of absolute or completely fixed idea.  Also, in
talking about the body and pain, I think we must avoid being sunken into the
type of thinking that extremely narrowed the thought of Sir Isaac Newton,
which is to say, setting up artificial boundaries or claiming that certain
things are individual and discrete rather than seeing them as part of a
continuum in which they are translatable one into another, as well, in many
cases, being part of simply a gradient scale of the same thing.  For example,
one can talk about the gradient scale of theta, and what follows is purely

        But theta, the static, which is defined as a nothingness in
connection with the manifest universe, runs all the way from no mass, no
motion, no wavelength, no location in space or time, all the way to the most
dense matter known or conceivable in this or any universe.  And yet
everything on that gradient scale could be described simply as theta
manifesting itself, but differently.

     And so, as Ed of the famous Dawson of the Arctic once pointed out, it
came to him through his researches that there is life or consciousness in
everything.  And if this be true, what is the range of theta that can and
does ordinarily experience pain?  And if that be true, could we say that pain
extends all the way from splitting rocks (or atoms, if you will) all the way
through the agonies that the projections of the static calling themselves
individual consciousnesses are capable of experiencing?

        Being an idiot and having a long history of engaging in idiocy, not
to speak of being the Flounder of Idiotology, I should still like to obtain
further feedback regarding the several statements contained in this poor
excuse for a posting regarding the possibility of pain as a source of
aberration, perhaps even the single source.  I should also like to say in
closing that I deeply appreciate and acknowledge, with many thank-you's, the
postings that the list and I have received so far from some of my eminent
friends and co-listers.  I refer now to Rowland Barkley, John Lester, Lars
Peter Schultz, Ed Dawson, and Jonathan Good, who have all had things to say
in their inimitable styles that have caused me to feel more aware, more
interested in looking further, and have without question added to my

       Looking forward to much ado about something,