I've also been thinking a lot about the Satta Sutta and its statement that one is a "being" to the extent that one is caught up in craving, etc. for the five skandhas. I've been thinking that by this criterion, any suffering is in and of itself a being, since it is caught up in such craving.
This is changing the way I read a lot of suttas which are ostensibly concerned with interpersonal interactions. For instance, this gloss by Thanissaro:
If you see someone who's been really nasty to you in his words and deeds but has moments of honesty and goodwill, it's as if you're walking through a desert — hot, trembling, thirsty — and you come across a cow footprint with a little bit of water in it. Now what do you do? You can't scoop the water up with your hand because that would muddy it. Instead you get down on your hands and knees, and very carefully slurp it up.
I've been approaching pain and tension in this way in meditation. Instead of looking for pleasure/comfort elsewhere in the body, I look for tiny instances of it in the areas associated with the pain/tension. I focus on those tiny instances in the inbreath, then spread them through the region on the outbreath.
This is producing fairly remarkable results, almost immediate release of the suffering, and very pleasant, even rapturous experiences. It's pretty unconventional, though, and sometimes it borders on, but does not quite enter into, masochism. Does it sound harmful in any way?