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CHAPTER SIX BREAKING FREE The beginning of freedom from the painbody lies first of all in the realization that you have a painbody. Then, more important, in your ability to stay present enough, alert enough, to notice the panbody in yourself as a heavy influx of negative emotion when it becomes active. When it is recognized, it can no longer pretend to be you and live and renew itself through you. It is your conscious Presence that breaks the identification with the painbody. When you don’t identify with it, the painbody can no longer control your thinking and so cannot renew itself anymore by feeding on your thoughts. The painbody in most cases does not dissolve immediately, but once you have severed the link between it and your thinking, the painbody begins to lose energy. Your thinking ceases to be clouded by emotion; your present perceptions are no longer distorted by the past. The energy that was trapped in the painbody then changes into vibrational frequency and is transmuted into Presence. In this way, the painbody becomes fuel for consciousness. This is why many of the wisest, most enlightened men and women on our planet once had a heavy painbody. Regardless of what you say or do or what face you show to the world, your mentalemotional state cannot be concealed. Every human being emanates an energy field that corresponds to his or her inner state, and most people can sense it, although they may feel someone else’s energy emanation only subliminally. That is to say, they don’t know that they sense it, yet it determines to a large extent how they feel about and react to that person. Some people are most clearly aware of it when they first meet someone, even before any words are exchanged. A little later, however, words take over the relationship and with words come the roles that most people play. Attention then moves to the realm of mind, and the ability to sense the other person’s energy field becomes greatly diminished. Nevertheless, it is still felt on an unconscious level. When you realize that painbodies unconsciously seek more pain, that is to say that they want something bad to happen, you will understand that many traffic accidents are caused by drivers whose painbodies are active at
the time. When two drivers with active painbodies arrive at an intersection at the same time, the likelihood of an accident is many times greater than under normal circumstances. Unconsciously they both want the accident to happen. The role of painbodies in traffic accidents is most obvious in the phenomenon called “road rage,” when drivers become physically violent often over a trivial matter such as someone in front of them driving too slowly. Man acts of violence are committed by “normal” people who temporarily turn into maniacs. All over the world at court proceedings you hear the defense lawyers say, “This is totally out of character,” and the accused, “I don’t know what came over me.” To my knowledge so far, no defense lawyer has said to the judge although the day may not be far off “This is a case of diminished responsibility. My client’s painbody was activated, and he did not know what he was doing. In fact, he didn’t do it. His painbody did.” Does this mean that people are not responsible for what they do when possessed by the painbody? My answer is: How can they be? How can you be responsible when you are unconscious, when you don’t know what you are doing? However, in the greater scheme of things, human beings are meant to evolve into conscious beings, and those who don’t will suffer the consequences of their unconsciousness. They are out of alignment with the evolutionary impulse of the universe. And even that is only relatively true. From a higher perspective, it is not possible to be out of alignment with the evolution of the universe, and even human unconsciousness and the suffering it generates is part of that evolution. When you can’t stand the endless cycle of suffering anymore, you being to awaken. So the painbody too has its necessary place in the larger picture. PRESENCE A woman in her thirties came to see me. As she greeted me, I could sense the pain behind her polite and superficial smile. She started telling me her story, and within one second her smile changed into a grimace of pain. Then, she began to sob uncontrollably. She said she felt lonely and unfulfilled. There was much anger and sadness. As a child she had been abused by a
physically violent father. I saw quickly that her pain was not caused by her present life circumstances but by an extraordinarily heavy painbody. Her painbody had become the filter through which she viewed her life situation. She was not yet able to see the link between the emotional pain and her thoughts, being completely identified with both. She could not yet see that she was feeding the painbody with her thoughts. In other words, she lived with the burden of a deeply unhappy self. At some level, however, she must have realized that her pain originated within herself, that she was a burden to herself. She was ready to awaken, and this is why she had come. I directed the focus of her attention to what she was feeling inside her body and asked her to sense the emotion directly, instead of through the filter of her unhappy thoughts, her unhappy story. She said she had come expecting me to show her the way out of her unhappiness, not into it. Reluctantly, however, she did what I asked her to do. Tears were rolling down her face, her whole body was shaking. “At this moment, this is what you feel.” I said. “There is nothing you can do about the fact that at this moment this is what you feel. Now, instead of wanting this moment to be different from the way it is, which adds more pain to the pain that is already there, is it possible for you to completely accept that this is what you feel right now?” She was quiet for a moment. Suddenly she looked impatient, as if she was about to get up, and said angrily, “No, I don’t want to accept this.” “Who is speaking?” I asked her. “You or the unhappiness in you? Can you see that your unhappiness about being unhappy is just another layer of unhappiness?” She became quiet again. “I am not asking you to do anything. All I’m asking is that you find out whether it is possible for you to allow those feelings to be there. In other words, and this may sound strange, if you don’t mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness? Don’t you want to find out?” She looked puzzled briefly, and after a minute or so of sitting silently, I suddenly noticed a significant shift in her energy field. She said, “This is weird. I ‘m still unhappy, but now there is space around it. It seems to matter less.” This was the first time I heard somebody put it like that: There is space around my unhappiness. That space, of course, comes when there is inner acceptance of whatever you are experiencing in the present moment.
I didn’t say much else, allowing her to be with the experience. Later she came to understand that the moment she stopped identifying with the feeling, the old painful emotion that lived in her, the moment she put her attention on it directly without trying to resist it, it could no longer control her thinking and so become mixed up with a mentally constructed story called “The Unhappy Me.” Another dimension had come into her life that transcended her personal past the dimension of Presence. Since you cannot be unhappy without an unhappy story, this was the end of her unhappiness. It was also the beginning of the end of her painbody. Emotion in itself is not unhappiness. Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness. When our session came to an end, it was fulfilling to know that I had just witnessed the arising of Presence in another human being. The very reason for our existence in human form is to bring that dimension of consciousness into this world. I had also witnessed a diminishment of the painbody, not through fighting it but through bringing th light of consciousness to it. A few minutes after my visitor left, a friend arrived to drop something off. As soon as she came into the room she said, “What happened here? The energy feels heavy and murky. It almost makes me feel sick. You need to open the windows, burn some incense.” I explained that I had just witnessed a major release in someone with a very dense painbody and that what she felt must be some of the energy that was released during our session. My friend, however, didn’t want to stay and listen. She wanted to get away as soon as possible. I opened the windows and went out to have dinner at a small Indian restaurant nearby. What happened there was a clear, further confirmation of what I already know: That on some level, all seemingly individual human panbodies are connected. Although the form this particular confirmation took did come as a shock. THE RETURN OF THE PAINBODY I sat down at a table and ordered a meal. There were a few other guests. At a nearby table, there was a middleaged man in a wheelchair who was just finishing his meal. He glanced at me once, briefly but intensely. A few minutes passed. Suddenly he became restless, agitated, his body began
twitching. The waiter came to take his plate. The man started arguing with him. “The food was no good. It was dreadful.” “Then why did you eat it?” asked the waiter. And that really set him off. He started shouting, became abusive. Vile words were coming out of his mouth; intense, violent hatred filled the room. One could feel that energy entering the cells of one’s body looking for something to latch on to. Now he was shouting at the other guests too, but for some strange reason ignoring me completely as I sat in intense Presence. I suspected that the universal human painbody had come back to tell me, “You thought you defeated me. Look, I’m still here.” I also considered the possibility that the released energy field left behind after our session followed me to the restaurant and attached itself to the one person in whom it found a compatible vibrational frequency, that is to say, a heavy painbody. The manager opened the door, “Just leave. Just leave.” The man zoomed out in his electric wheelchair, leaving everyone stunned. One minute later he returned. His painbody wasn’t finished yet. It needed more. He pushed open the door with his wheelchair, shouting obscenities. A waitress tried to stop him from coming in. He put his chair in fastforward and pinned her against the wall. Other guests jumped up and tried to pull him away. Shouting, screaming, pandemonium. A little later a policeman arrived, the man became quiet, was asked to leave and not return. The waitress fortunately was not hurt, except for bruises on her legs. When it was all over, the manager came to my table and asked me, half joking but perhaps feeling intuitively that there was some connection, “Did you cause all this?” THE PAINBODY IN CHILDREN Children’s painbodies sometimes manifest as moodiness or withdrawal. The child becomes sullen, refuses to interact, and may sit in a corner, hugging a doll or sucking a thumb. They can also manifest as weeping fits or temper tantrums. The child screams, may throw him or herself on the floor, or become destructive. Thwarted wanting can easily trigger the painbody, and in a developing ego, the force of wanting can be intense. Parents may watch helplessly in incomprehension and disbelief as their little angel becomes transformed within a few seconds into a little monster. “Where does all that unhappiness come from?” they wonder. To a greater or lesser extent, it is the child’s share of the collective painbody of humanity which goes back to the very origin of the human ego.
But the child may also already have taken on pain from his or her parents’ painbodies, and so the parents may see in the child a reflection of what is also in them. Highly sensitive children are particularly affected by their parents’ painbodies. Having to witness their parents’ insane drama causes almost unbearable emotional pain, and so it is often these sensitive children who grow into adults with heavy painbodies. Children are not fooled by parents who try to hide their painbody from them, who say to each other, “We mustn’t fight in front of the children.” This usually means while the parents make polite conversation, the home is pervaded with negative energy. Suppressed painbodies are extremely toxic, even more so than openly active ones, and that psychic toxicity is absorbed by the children and contributes to the development of their own painbody. Some children learn subliminally about ego and painbody simply by living with very unconscious parents. A woman whose parents both had strong egos and heavy painbodies told me that often when her parents were shouting and screaming at each other, she would look at them and although she loved them, would say to herself, “These people are nuts. How did I ever end up here?” There was already an awareness in her of the insanity of living in such a way. That awareness helped reduce the amount of pain she absorbed from her parents. Parents often wonder who to deal with their child’s painbody. The primary question is, of course, are they dealing with their own? Do they recognize it within themselves? Are they able to stay present enough when it becomes activated so that they can be aware of the emotion on the feeling level before it gets a chance to turn into thinking and thus into an “unhappy person”? While the child is having a painbody attack, there isn’t much you can do except to stay present so that you are not drawn into an emotional reaction. The child’s painbody would only feed on it. Painbodies can be extremely dramatic. Don’t buy into the drama. Don’t take it too seriously. If the painbody was triggered by thwarted wanting, don’t give in now to its demands. Otherwise, the child will learn: “The more unhappy I become, the more likely I am to get what I want.” This is a recipe for dysfunction in later life. The painbody will be frustrated by your nonreaction and may briefly act up even more before it subsides. Fortunately, painbody episodes in children are usually more shortlived than in adults.
A little while after it has subsided, or perhaps the next day, you can talk to the child about what happened. But don’t tell the child about what happened. Ask questions instead. For example: “What was it that came over you yesterday when you wouldn’t stop screaming? Do you remember? What did it feel like? Was it a good feeling? That thing that came over you, does it have a name? No? If it had a name, what would it be called? If you could see it, what would it look like? Can you paint a picture of what it would look like? What happened to it when it went away? Did it go to sleep? Do you think it may come back?” These are just a few suggested questions. All these questions are designed to awaken the witnessing faculty in the child, which is Presence. They will help the child to disidentify from the painbody. You may also want to talk to the child about your own painbody using the child’s terminology. The next time the child gets taken over by the painbody, you can say, “It’s come back, hasn’t it?” Use whatever words the child used when you talk bout it. Direct the child’s attention to what it feels like. Let your attitude be one of interest or curiosity rather than one of criticism or condemnation. It is unlikely that this will stop the painbody in its tracks, and it may appear that the child will not even be hearing you, yet some awareness will remain in the background of the child’s consciousness even while the pain body is active. After a few times, the awareness will have gown stronger and the painbody will have weakened. The child is growing in Presence. One day you may find that the child is the one to point out to you that your own painbody has taken control of you. UNHAPPINESS Not all unhappiness is of the painbody. Some of it is new unhappiness, created whenever you are out of alignment with the present moment, when the Now is denied in one way or another. When you recognize that the present moment is always already the case and therefore inevitable, you can bring an uncompromising inner “yes” to it and so not only create no further unhappiness, but, with inner resistance gone, find yourself empowered by Life itself.
The painbody’s unhappiness is always clearly out of proportion to the apparent cause. In other words, it is an overreaction. This is how it is recognized, although not usually by the sufferer, the person possessed. Someone with a heavy painbody easily finds reasons for being upset, angry, hurt, sad, or fearful. Relatively insignificant things that someone else would shrug off with a smile or not even notice become the apparent cause of intense unhappiness. They are, of course, not the true cause but only act as a trigger. They bring back to life the old accumulated emotion. The emotion then moves into the head and amplifies and energizes the egoic mind structures. Painbody and ego are close relatives. They need each other. The triggering event or situation is then interpreted and reacted to through the screen of a heavily emotional ego. This is to say, its significance becomes completely distorted. you look at the present through the eyes of the emotional past within you. In other words, what you see and experience is not in the event or situation but in you. Or in some cases, it may be there in the event or situation, but you amplify it through your reaction. This reaction, this amplification, is what the painbody wants and needs, what it feeds on. For someone possessed by a heavy painbody, it is often impossible to step outside his or her distorted interpretation, the heavily emotional “story.” The more negative emotion there is in a story, the heavier and more impenetrable it becomes. And so the story is not recognized as such but is taken to be reality. When you are completely trapped in the movement of thought and the accompanying emotion, stepping outside is not possible because you don’t even know that there is an outside. You are trapped in your own movie or dream, trapped in your own hell. To you it is reality and no other reality is possible. And as far as you are concerned, your reaction is the only possible reaction. BREAKING IDENTIFICATION WITH THE PAINBODY A person with a strong, active painbody has a particular energy emanation that other people perceive as extremely unpleasant. When they meet a person, some people will immediately want to remove themselves or reduce interaction with him or her to a minimum. They feel repulsed by the person’s energy field. Others will feel a wave of aggression toward this
person, and they will be rude or attack him or her verbally and in some cases, even physically. This means there is something within them that resonates with the other person’s painbody. What they react to so strongly is also in them. It is their own painbody. Not surprisingly, people with heavy and frequently active painbodies often find themselves in conflict situations. Sometimes, of course they actively provoke them. But at other times, they may not actually do anything. The negativity they emanate is enough to attract hostility and generate conflict. It requires a high degree of Presence to avoid reacting when confronted by someone with such an active painbody. If you are able to stay present, it sometimes happens that your Presence enables the other person to disidentify from his or her own painbody ad thus experience the miracle of a sudden awakening. Although the awakening may be shortlived, the awakening process will have become initiated. One of the first such awakenings that I witnessed happened many years ago. My doorbell rang close to eleven o’clock at night. My neighbor Ethel’s anxietyladen voice came through the intercom. “We need to talk. This is very important. Please let me in.” Ethel was middleaged, intelligent, and highly educated. She also had a strong ego and a heavy painbody. She escaped form Nazi Germany when she was an adolescent, and many of her family members perished in the concentration camps. Ethel sat down on my sofa, agitated, her hands trembling. She took letters and documents out of the file she carried with her and spread them out all over the sofa and floor. At once I had the strange sensation as if a dimmer switch had turned the inside of my entire body to maximum power. There was nothing to do other than remain open, alert, intensely present present with every cell of the body. I looked at her with no thought and no judgment and listened in stillness without any mental commentary. A torrent of words came out of her mouth. “They sent me another disturbing letter today. They are conducting a vendetta against me. You must help. We need to fight them together. Their crooked lawyers will stop at nothing. I will lose my home. They are threatening me with dispossession.” It transpired that she refused to pay the service charge because the property managers had filed to carry out some repairs. They in turn threatened to take her to court.
She talked for ten minutes or so. I sat, looked, and listened. Suddenly she stopped talking, looked at the papers all around her as if she had just woken up from a dream. She became calm and gentle. Her entire energy filed changed. Then she looked at me and said, “This isn’t important at all, is it?” “No, it isn’t,” I said. She sat quietly for a couple more minutes, then picked up her papers and left. The next morning she stopped me in the street, looking at me somewhat suspiciously. “What did you do to me? Last night was the first night in years that I slept well. In fact, I slept like a baby.” She believed I had “done something” to her, but I had done nothing. Instead of asking what I had done to her, perhaps she should have asked what I had not done. I had to reacted, not confirmed the reality of her story, not fed her mind with more thought and her painbody with more emotion. I had allowed her to experience whatever she was experiencing at that moment, and the power of allowing lies in noninterference, nondoing. Being present is always infinitely more powerful than anything one could say or do, although sometimes being present can give rise to words or actions. What happened to her was not yet a permanent shift, but a glimpse of what is possible, a glimpse of what was already within her. In Zen, such a glimpse is called satori. Satori is a moment of Presence, a brief stepping out of the voice in your head, the thought processes, and their reflection in the body as emotion. It is the arising of inner spaciousness where before there was the clutter of thought and the turmoil of emotion. The thinking mind cannot understand Presence and so will often misinterpret it. It will say that you are uncaring, distant, have no compassion, are not relating. The truth is, you are relating but at a level deeper than thought and emotion. In fact, at that level there is a true coming together, a true joining that goes far beyond relating. In the stillness of Presence, you can sense the formless essence in yourself and in the other as one. Knowing the oneness of yourself and the other is true love, true care, true compassion. “TRIGGERS” Some painbodies react to only one particular kind of trigger or situation, which is usually one that resonates with a certain kind of emotional pain suffered in the past. For example, if a child grows up with parents for whom financial issues are the source of frequent drama and
conflict, he or she may absorb the parents’ fear around money and develop a painbody that is triggered whenever financial issues are involved. The child a adult gets upset or angry even over insignificant amounts of money. Behind the upset or anger lies issues of survival and intense fear. I have seen spiritual, that is to say, relatively conscious, people who started to shout, blame, and make accusations the moment they picked up the phone to talk to their stockbroker or realtor. Just as there is a health warning on every package of cigarettes, perhaps there should be similar warnings on every banknote and bank statement: “Money can activate the painbody and cause complete unconsciousness.” Someone who in childhood was neglected or abandoned by one or both parents will likely develop a painbody that becomes triggered in any situation that resonates even remotely with their primordial pain of abandonment. A friend arriving a few minutes late to pick them up at the airport or a spouse coming home late can trigger a major painbody attack. If their partner or spouse leaves them or dies, the emotional pain they experience goes far beyond the pain that is natural in such a situation. It may be intense anguish, longlasting, incapacitating depression, or obsessive anger. A woman who in childhood was physically abused by her father my find that her painbody becomes easily activated in any close relationship with a man. Alternatively, the emotion that makes up her painbody may draw her to a man whose painbody is similar to that of her father. Her pain body may feel a magnetic pull to someone who it senses will give it more of the same pain. That pain is sometimes misinterpreted as falling in love. A man who had been an unwanted child and was given no love and a minimum of care and attention by his mother developed a heavy ambivalent painbody that consisted of unfulfilled intense longing for his mother’s love and attention and at the same time intense hatred toward her for withholding what he so desperately needed. When he became an adult, almost every woman would trigger his painbody’s neediness a form of emotional pain and this would manifest as an addictive compulsion to “conquer and seduce” almost every woman he met and in this way get the female love and attention that the painbody craved. He became quite an expert on seduction, but as soon as a relationship turned intimate or his advances were rejected, the
painbody’s anger toward his mother would come up and sabotage the relationship. When you recognize your own painbody as it arises, you will also quickly learn what the most common triggers are that activate it, whether it be situations or certain things other people do or say. When those triggers occur, you will immediately see them for what they are and enter a heightened state of alertness. Within a second or two, you will also notice the emotional reaction that is the arising painbody, but in that state of alert Presence, you won’t identify with it, which means the painbody cannot take you over and become the voice in your head. If you are with your partner at the time, you may tell him or her: “What you just said (or did) triggered my painbody.” Have an agreement with your partner that whenever either of you says or does something that triggers the other person’s painbody, you will immediately mention it. In this way, the painbody can no longer renew itself through drama in the relationship and instead of pulling you into unconsciousness, will help you become fully present. Every time you are present when the painbody arises, some of the painbody’s negative emotional energy will burn up, as it were, and become transmuted into Presence. The rest of the painbody will quickly withdraw and wait for a better opportunity to rise again, that is to say, when you are less conscious. A better opportunity for the painbody to arise may come whenever you lose Presence, perhaps after you have had a few drinks or while watching a violent film. The tiniest negative motion, such as being irritated or anxious, can also serve as a doorway through which the pain body can return. The painbody needs your unconsciousness. It cannot tolerate the light of Presence. THE PAINBODY AS AN AWAKENER At first sight, it may seem that the painbody is the greatest obstacle to the arising of a new consciousness in humanity. It occupies your mind, controls and distorts your thinking, disrupts you relationships, and feels like a dark cloud that occupies your entire energy field. It tends to make you unconscious, spiritually speaking, which means totally identified with mind and emotion. It makes you reactive, makes you say and do things that are designed to increase the unhappiness within yourself and the world.
As unhappiness increases, however, it also causes increasing disruption in your life. Perhaps the body can’t take the stress anymore and develops an illness or some dysfunction. Perhaps you have become involved in an accident, some huge conflict situation or drama that was caused by the painbody’s desire for something bad to happen, or you become the perpetrator of physical violence. Or it all becomes too much and you cannot live with your unhappy self anymore. The painbody, of course, is part of that false self. Whenever you get taken over by the painbody, whenever you don’t recognize it or what it is, it becomes part of your ego. Whatever you identify with turns into ego. The painbody is one of the most powerful things the ego can identify with, just as the painbody needs the ego to renew itself through it. That unholy alliance, however, eventually breaks down in those cases where the painbody is so heavy that the egoic mind structures, instead of being strengthened by it, are becoming eroded by the continuous onslaught of the painbody’s energy charge, in the same way that an electronic device can be empowered by an electric current but also destroyed by it if the voltage is too high. People with strong painbodies often reach a point where they feel their life is becoming unbearable, where they can’t take any more pain, any more drama. One person expressed this by saying plainly and simply that she was “Fed up with being unhappy.” Some people may feel, as I did, that they cannot live with themselves anymore. Inner peace then becomes their first priority. Their acute emotional pain forces them to disidentify from the content of their minds and the mentalemotional structures that give birth to and perpetuate the unhappy me. They then know that neither their unhappy story nor the emotion they feel is who they are. They realize they are the knowing, not the known. Rather than pulling them into unconsciousness, the painbody becomes their awakener, the decisive factor that forces them into a state of Presence. However, due to the unprecedented influx of consciousness we are witnessing on the planet now, many people no longer need to go through the depth of acute suffering to be able to disidentify from the painbody. Whenever they notice they have slipped back into a dysfunctional state, they are able to choose to step out of identification with thinking and emotion and
enter the state of Presence. They relinquish resistance, become still and alert, one with what is, within and without. The next step in human evolution is not inevitable, but for the first time in the history of our planet, it can be a conscious choice. Who is making that choice? You are. And who are you? Consciousness that has become conscious of itself. BREAKING FREE OF THE PAINBODY A question people frequently ask is, “How long does it take to become free of the painbody?” The answer is, of course, that it depends both on the density of an individual’s painbody as well as the degree or intensity of that individual’s arising Presence. But it is not the painbody, but identification with it that causes the suffering that you inflict on yourself and others. It is not the painbody but identification with the painbody that forces you to relive the past again and again and keeps you in a state of unconsciousness. So a more important question to ask would be this: “How long does it take to become free of identification with the painbody?” And the answer to that question: It takes no time at all. When the pain body is activated, know that what you are feeling is th painbody in you. This knowing is all that is needed to break your identification with it. And when identification with it ceases, the transmutation begins. The knowing prevents the old emotion from rising up in your head and taking over not only the internal dialogue, but also your actions as well as interactions with other people. This mean the painbody cannot use you anymore and renew itself through you. The old emotion may then still live in you for a while and come up periodically. It may also still occasionally trick you into identifying with it again and thus obscure the knowing, but not for long. Not projecting the old emotion into situations means facing it directly within yourself. It may not be pleasant, but it won’t kill you. Your Presence is more than capable of containing it. The emotion is not who you are. When you feel the painbody, don’t fall into the error of thinking there is something wrong with you. Making yourself into a problem the ego loves that. The knowing needs to be followed by accepting. Anything else will obscure it again. Accepting means you allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at that moment. It is part of the isness of the Now. You
can’t argue with what is. Well, you can, but if you do, you suffer. Through allowing, you become what you are: vast, spacious. You become whole. You are not a fragment anymore, which is how the ego perceives itself. Your true nature emerges, which is one with the nature of God. Jesus points to this when he says, “Be ye whole, even as your Father in Heaven is whole.”1 The New Testament’s “Be ye perfect” is a mistranslation of he original Greek word, which means whole. This is to say, you don’t need to become whole, but be what you already are with or without the pain body.
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