One day the Buddha was seated with his monks in the shade of many beautiful Sala trees. He picked up a small piece of earth, held it between his thumb and forefinger, and asked, “Brethren, if we compare this piece of earth with Gayasisa mountain, which is larger?” “Of course, Gayasisa is a much larger, Lord.” It is like that, O brothers. For those who have arrived at understanding thanks to their study and practice of the Dharma, their suffering is almost nothing compared with the suffering of those who are submerged in the ignorance. Ignorance magnifies suffering by millions of times.
“Brethren, suppose someone is struck by an arrow. He will feel pain. But if a second arrow strikes him at the very same spot, the pain will be much more than just doubled. And if a third arrow strikes him at that same spot again, the pain will be a thousand times more intense. Brethren, ignorance is the second and the third arrow. It intensifies the pain. “Thanks to understanding, a practitioner can prevent the pain in himself and others from being intensified. When an unpleasant feeling, physical or mental, arises in him, the wise man does not worry, complain, weep, pound his chest, pill his hair, torture his body and mind, or faint. He calmly observes his feeling and is aware that it is only a feeling. He knows that he is not the feeling, and he is not caught by the feeling.
Therefore, the pain cannot bind him. When he has a painful physical feeling, he knows that there is a painful physical feeling. But it is not him…. He does not lose his calmness, does not worry, does not fear, and does not complain. Thus the feeling remains a painful physical feeling, and it is not able to grow and ravage his whole being.”