In season 2’s episode 2 of ‘Narcos: Mexico’ are some literally torturous-to-watch yet thought-provoking scenes, of an accomplice in torture-cum-murder being interrogated for leads. Cocky and not cooperative, with his self-assured knowledge on how torture works and how to resist it, he even sings with a bag over his head. This is despite already being beaten up and with a few possibly broken ribs. This is Tip #1: Take your mind off pain, even if by distracting yourself from it with something else.
Thinking he will not be seriously hurt as his captors are ‘cowardly’, he could even smirk while a finger is severed. He says, ‘The trick to overcoming torture is not to think about the pain itself, but about what it protects.’ Saying he has no spouse or kids, but that he loves his country, and that his captors are trying to ‘hurt’ it, he prefers that they hurt him. This is Tip #2: If you have pain that cannot be escaped from, you should bear it with a higher purpose. Knowing clearly that this purpose is noble helps.
Exasperated, one of the captors shoots him in his gut, to let him bleed slowly, to hurt like hell. He is given the option to die ‘for his country’ if he really loves it so much, or to save himself by confessing. Even if the accomplices he reveals seek to silence him later, what immediate was the fact that he was already facing death. Finally, he whimpers his confession. Tip #3: To avoid pain from others, don’t hurt anyone else in the first place, be it physically or mentally, or there will be karmic payback.
Tip #4: A tough but challenging way to handle pain is to face it as it is, unflinchingly, by just watching it objectively, without reacting to it with attachment or aversion. This method is meditative, Vipassanā in technique. There are practical limits to this though, as most have some threshold of pain that can be easily crossed. It is most difficult to practise so when approaching definite death with escalating pain, as in this Narcos’ case. Such are the limits of Self-powered ‘practice’.
The average person when experiencing considerable pain will aggravate it with anguish, making it seemingly more painful. This is where the most powerful tip comes in. A little similar to Tip #1 with Tip #2 combined, here is Tip #5: Choose supreme meditation with wholehearted mindfulness (instead of scattered distraction), with the most noble subject possible — a Buddha (e.g. Amitābha Buddha; Āmítuófó), with strong Bodhicitta too if possible, for the sake of helping all beings in the long run. Limited Self-power will not be an issue as there is the Buddha’s immense Other-power with blessings. Even if dying with pain, once there is firm connection, there will even be bliss!