Welcome to week twelve of this free series. Settle into your own comfy chair, grab a mug of something nice, and read on.
(The following content is excerpted from The Fricken Map is Upside Down: Notes from a spiritual journey, by Carrie Triffet © Copyright 2019.)
Tell me where it hurts
Bodies, man. Can’t live with ‘em, but just try living without
‘em. As one whose physicality has been no stranger to dis-
comfort, I’ve had plenty of opportunity over the decades to
perceive both the body and its malfunctioning behavior as
enemies. Yet neither one is quite what it appears to be. More
recently I’ve come to recognize pain, as well as the body hous-
ing it, as wise gurus and steadfast friends.
Pain and the suffering that accompanies it, are two sepa-
rate things. We tend to experience painandsuffering as all one
sensation lumped seamlessly together. But as it turns out, the
suffering is an optional add-on, entirely due to the influence
of the subterranean self. It’s fascinating to feel just how differ-
ent the experience of pain can be, when it occurs outside the
subterranean self ’s identity structures.
And herein lies another clue about the deeply unhelpful
nature of the subterranean operating system itself. As we’ve al-
ready noted, the subterranean aspects of the self are responsible
for weaving a personal identity for us, more or less out of thin
air. The weaving of a personal identity out of millions of indi-
vidual data points seems a harmless enough activity. It isn’t.
Besides sending us down the wrong roads toward faulty
conclusions (as in my LA freeway example), this process of
automatically categorizing and linking the things we perceive
now with historical precedents and future imaginings, turns
out to be the very activity that indirectly creates all our mental
and physical suffering.
All our seemingly innocuous personal data points collec-
tively form the distorted lens through which we can’t help
but compare and resist, criticize and judge ourselves and our
world. The data points themselves obstruct all hope of experi-
encing true peace.
The gurus have been telling us this truth all along, of course.
The so-called ego is the source of all suffering. That’s an una-
voidable part of its job description. It’s the knock-on effect of
building a personal self that can’t help but function to resist
and block out the peace of God. But I maintain there are no
evil-geniussy criminal motivations behind its doings. The il-
lusory frequency the subterranean self emits simply jams the
God broadcast, that’s all.
Back to pain without suffering: It’s an odd sensation. The first
time I experienced physical pain minus suffering was back in
2013, during yet another of those brief awakening events. On
this occasion I’d had an encounter with Thich Nhat Hanh, an
enlightened master, in a vision the night before.
In the vision I was standing fifty feet away from him in a
stark concrete courtyard. He turned to look at me, and as our
eyes met, his piercing gaze transmitted a palpable vibratory
wave of enlightened realization deep into my mind. I felt the
powerful, high-frequency wave shudder awkwardly through
my energy field, and I lost my physical balance.
As I was falling sideways onto the concrete I realized I had
a choice. I could put out my hands in an attempt to break my
fall, which I knew would severely limit the power of this awak-
ening transmission. Or I could surrender to the powerful vi-
bratory wave and let myself fall unimpeded, even if it meant
my head might smash open like a pumpkin on the concrete.
I chose the pumpkin option. The vision ended just before my
head hit the ground.
I arose from my bed the next morning to find an entirely
silent inner state of being. Gone was the usual mental chatter.
It was a typical September day in Southern California, cloud-
lessly sunny and warm, so I dressed in jeans and a sleeveless
tank top and drove to the beach. It seemed as good a place as
any to get used to the unfamiliar inner quiet. This wasn’t trans-
cendent peace I was feeling, exactly, nevertheless the egoic self
was nowhere to be found. All inner turmoil had ceased.
I parked the car and made my way toward the water. No-
body was around, so I sat down on the sand and tried medi-
tating. It was a nice, effortlessly spacious feeling. But within a
minute or two the wind picked up so strongly, hurling the sand
with such unexpected force that it was starting to sandblast my
skin. Weird, the weather had seemed so calm a minute ago. I
opened my eyes to investigate.
Directly in front of me, the blackest clouds I’d ever seen had
gathered in ominous billowing layers to obscure the horizon.
Beneath them the turbulent sea had turned a brilliant emerald
green, frothed with whitecaps. I was startled to feel icy rage
emitted by that water, and understood immediately that the
scene in front of me was a physical out-picturing of my own
intense internal resistance to permanent awakening.
I tuned in deep within, and noticed for the first time a faint
and faraway rumble of dissent coming from the region of my
abandoned mine. As I focused in on it more closely I felt the
unruly ruckus of unconscious resistance that was still present
somewhere within me, hiding beneath a vast blanket of pris-
tine silence. No wonder this inner state hadn’t quite felt like
Back in 2013 I was still a little bit enamored of my own
drama, and true to form, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fe-
rocious beauty of sea and sky I was witnessing. I found its un-
bridled fury mesmerizing. But I couldn’t linger to admire it for
very long. The temperature was dropping and the wind was
rapidly picking up speed, the sand striking my bare skin with
I stood up to go find a café across the road where I could
enjoy shelter and a cappuccino. It was then I realized the hori-
zon in all other directions had remained cloudless, sunny and
presumably warm. I was in my own tiny, bitterly cold and un-
Walking slowly through the marina, I watched calmly as
the yachts bumped and rocked madly in their slips. The wind
shrieked an earsplitting dirge, the boats’ metal riggings
whining eerily as they clanged and scraped against hollow
metal masts. Both my ears ached from the cold and the deaf-
ening cacophony; the ear facing the ocean was also being
pummeled relentlessly with frozen sand at full force. It was
That’s when I noticed the genuinely odd sensation of
pain minus suffering. It’s kind of like pain doesn’t hurt. Or
rather, it does hurt, but it’s irrelevant. It couldn’t possibly
affect your inner state, which is entirely untouched by the
discomfort. In no way would pain ruin your day, no matter
how intense it might be.
That mini-awakening lasted a bit longer than most of
the others. But after a few days the angry inner foot-dragger
reasserted its supremacy. And for a long while afterward the
experience of pain without suffering remained a mere mem-
ory, a curious side benefit of a short-term, partial awakening.
Several months ago I was experimenting, just for fun, with
deep surrender into knowing the divinity of a painful condi-
tion—with no agenda other than recognizing its perfect iden-
tity. If everything is God, I figured, this must be too.
So I was trying to feel into that knowing, as fully as I could. Because
why not? Pain was here. I might as well occupy myself with the
game of unmasking its true identity. I held the pain in steady
recognition of its pure divinity. And not unlike that peculiar
sandblasted hunt for a cappuccino back in 2013, I discovered
the pain was present yet it didn’t hurt. Or, it hurt, but it wasn’t
bothersome in any way.
These more recent explorations into the nature of pain
went deeper than they did back in 2013. This time I noticed
it was a beautiful expression of radiant divinity. I marveled
at the wondrous gift this pain revealed itself to be. I was hon-
ored by its presence. And because it was already perfect right
here, right now, its choice of whether to stay or go was of no
importance at all.
(As it happened, the pain chose to leave after a day or two
of being recognized as divinity. The mysterious condition,
which showed up all of a sudden, disappeared without a trace
as quickly as it had arrived. But I didn’t require that outcome.
Or any outcome.)
Although we’ve talked mainly about physical pain here,
the same would surely hold true for mental-emotional pain.
The good news is, whatever form of inner or outer discomfort
we’re experiencing, pain without suffering can be known prior
to permanent embodied awakening. All it takes to explore the
sensation of pain without suffering is an attitude of gentle cu-
riosity, an open mind, and an abiding trust relationship with
the subterranean self.
In my experience, when we reach the point that we value
this self almost as much as we value the divine Light of our
own perfect Source, the subterranean self will gladly do eve-
rything in its power to help us taste spiritual freedom. Out
of loyalty. Out of gratitude. Out of relief to no longer be the
object of persecution.
It will back away as much as it dares, intentionally limiting
its own influence, so we can experience miraculous glimpses
of the transcendent self we truly are. It hopes we’ll be satisfied
with these glimpses. It hopes we’ll stop short of choosing a dif-
ferent operating system altogether.
The subterranean self can’t help being what it is. It is keenly
aware its very existence brings a world of suffering to itself and
you in equal measure. And yet it knows no other way to be.
There is no other way it can be.
Despite what the subterranean self would prefer, please don’t
be satisfied with mere miraculous glimpses of yourself. Dive into
the infinite beauty of your own true divine identity. You’ll nev-
er regret the unfolding mystery and adventure of discovering
who and what you really are.
And as for the subterranean self—although it may not seem
like it now, ultimately no greater gift can be given it, than peace
and liberation from its own dilemma at last.
~ Carrie Triffet, excerpted from The Fricken Map is Upside Down: Notes from a spiritual journey, © Copyright 2019