So — what happens when an “enlightened” being gets a toothache? And not just any old toothache, but a sight-twisting eye-watering agonizing and excruciating toothache of a level probably never previously experienced?

One of the guides along the way said, “the test is in living it”.

How does one “live” toothache?

Does “enlightenment” reduce the toothache? Magically resolve it?

No. It does not.

What “enlightenment” does do is take the fear out of the pain.

It cuts through the dithering, and guides immediate action to resolve the pain – that is, leads to the immediate acquisition of antibiotics, because the clear watching eye sees that it’s not going to go away all by itself, as the old wishful mind would have it. So direct practical action is launched. 

In the current crisis, instant access to dental services — especially when not in one’s home country — is problematic. Obviously, for a real fix dental services are called for.

But in the short term, pain relief and killing the infecting bacteria is what’s required.

And yet, with this particular toothache, painkillers just didn’t cut it. 

It was a long night, waiting for the antibiotics to work.

Physical pain is physical pain. It is inarguable. If strong enough, it stuns the system, and exhausts the body. When painkillers don’t work, in the mental system, fear will arise.

But the “enlightened” alternative is to go into the pain. To enter the sensation of the tooth. To feel the extremely strong sensations. And the pain is still pain, but it is somehow bearable.

The pain is still pain, but not apart. Not separated. Not other. 

In the pain is the acute sensitivity of the offended flesh, bruised and swollen.

And in the pain is the pulse, the sensation of the flow of the blood, each heartbeat causing a momentary increase of the pressure on the poor struggling infected flesh.

And in the acceptance of this, in the entering into the pain – comes a species of relief, perhaps because the pain is NOT now separated from the whole.

And perhaps it is this acceptance, perhaps it is the antibiotic, perhaps it is the benzocaine spray or the anti-inflammatory or the co-codamol, none of which had worked, but — the pain fades, first to a dull thud – the pulse – and finally into sleep.

OF COURSE “enlightenment” does not make for life free of all its exigencies. Pain will occur.

We already know this: for every apparently “enlightened” woman and man has apparently died, in the apparent body. And death – apparently – often involves pain, and pain relief.

But the “pain” in pain, beyond the exquisite excruciating intense sensation of it, is mostly in the fear, which in the “enlightened” being is gone. Pain, then, is sensational. Very intense – but sensational. All fear, finally, is of death – or what we think it is. 

Die before you die.