There is a well known analogy whereby a thorn is used to remove another thorn and then both are discarded. The obvious question is: to what is this referring? I would suggest knowledge. More specifically knowledge in its various forms. Just as many words we encounter have various levels of meaning.
Knowledge can refer to the generic facts we are all fed from childhood. Facts which clutter our minds, are used to pass exams and are quickly forgotten. People are revered for their ability to remember countless details and facts, they form the basis of quiz shows and there are many who are keen to correct you should you mix up your Ps and Qs.
But there is also the rarer form of knowledge known as Truth. As a great teacher once exhorted “know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” In our above analogy this translates as: find the thorn that removes the thorn. The understanding that our over preoccupation with the contents of our mind is the cause of our confusion and ignorance and inevitably suffering. This is most apparent at times of uncertainty, for life has an inconvenient habit of tossing up, often quite unexpectedly, challenging situations forcing us to have to ask honest, often difficult, questions of ourselves.
The Truth underpinning this healing / relieving thorn is the knowledge that we are not who we imagine ourselves to be. The part of us which suffers is the product of our conceptual thinking. In other words that which we believe we are, have been told we are, though with absolutely no foundation when viewed from who we recognise ourselves to be right now – on present evidence.
Seeing through – or having an insight – into this self-delusion, is the second thorn working out the one that is lodged. The process can be painful, but the relief is worth every twinge. With its removal we are clear and empty within – no longer ignorant of the source of our pain.
It is at this point both thorns can be discarded for we are in no doubt of our true nature – who we are.