I recently came across the figure of Yushio Mishima when I was looking at the Gym Jones website. He was a writer in 70s Japan I think, who believed that the body should also reflect the rigour of the intellect, that the mind and the body should be developed as one, and not one developed at the expense of the other.
(Mishima felt) that there was no outward manifestation of the moral character he had developed through rigorous study and intellectual discipline and that he could use the language of the body (as well as words) to communicate his character. … He called pain “the sole physical expression of consciousness” and discovered it “directly” with his body through intense, difficult training.
I think pain is fascinating. Isn’t life about pleasure and pain, overcoming pain, and the satisfaction, or joy that comes from overcoming or enduring pain in its various forms. Perhaps too visceral a view of life, but everything we do I think can be reduced simply to this.
Pain being the sole physical expression of consciousness? What would that mean? You only know you’re alive if it hurts ? Pinch yourself to tell if you’re dreaming or not? We only live to feel pain?
Even more fascinating, Yukio Mishima committed ritual suicide. He kidnapped a general and tried to incite some soldiers to stage a coup. When that failed, he committed seppuku — ritual suicide. He disembowelled himself and had a compatriot behead him so that he would not suffer too much. What a spectacular way to go.
Pain strengthens, concentrates the mind, tests the soul. And in shying away from it, we also discover who we are.