Buddhism is the only major world religion that is non-theistic: it doesn’t require you to believe anything you yourself haven’t experienced, in the famous words of the Buddha. It’s up to you. That said, you can believe in pain:
The basic notion of non-theistic symbolism is that whatever exists in our life-our birth, our death, our sickness, our marriage, our business adventure, our educational adventure-is based on symbolism of some kind. This type of symbolism may not be the vivid visions you see by tuning your system into a mystical state of mind, such as fantastic auras with symbols in the middle.
In fact, from the point of view of non-theism, such perceptions are regarded as bullshit. Maybe you need more rest or another cup of coffee. We do not go along with any kind of high-falluting colorful adventures, cosmic explosions of color after color, or fantastic visions. Looking for magical messages, as opposed to a direct relationship, creates a barrier to understanding symbolism.
In the non-theistic discipline of Buddhism, we do not glorify that because we want to confirm this. Instead we simply go along. We are not denying God, but we are simply trying to approach reality as simply as we could. A tortoise walks and carries a heavy shell; a cow walks along and grazes by itself in a green meadow, depositing its dung; pigeons make their own noises and live on the roof. Things have their own place. They don’t have to be commanded by the higher or the greater, particularly. Things are as they are, ordinary and simple. Seemingly, that is a very simple-minded approach-but actually, it is very profound and extremely deep.
Symbolism usually comes as messages. It is a very simple eye-level relationship: me and my world. You could forget the sky, or the It, Him, or Her. That makes the whole thing extremely simple: there’s no Big Brother watching you. Symbols of all kinds occur throughout our life, and whether you believe it or not, the most penetrating and powerful symbol in our life is pain.