Our culture is dominated by the search for ways to avoid, minimize, and dull pain at all costs. We medicate ourselves at the slightest indication of discomfort. We use alcohol, drugs, and other means to escape that which we find uncomfortable. Even therapy or self-education takes too damn long; it's much easier to take a pill.

The wisdom of the world's religions, as well as the practice of indigenous healing, teach us to embrace pain and suffering as partners in an adventure into learning and growth. Without them, you get nowhere. When suffering is wed with ecstatic experience, that is when the real transformative action begins. It is at the intersection of bliss and suffering that we may find compassion, love and wisdom.

Jeffrey Kottler, Jon Carlson, Bradford Keeney in American Shaman