The world in duality is not typically understood as the interplay of perceived opposite but complementary forces to maintain a harmonious balance. We have been taught to select one of the forces and reject the other.
In this world we value compassion. Some religions and “spiritual keywords” label compassion as something “good.”
Nevertheless, compassion comes from the experience of suffering.
Isn’t suffering “bad”? 🙂
How is it possible to be compassionate without knowing what suffering is? Knowing is not reading about it. It is living it.
The experience of suffering brings greater sensibility to a person.
John kicked the rear end of his dog “Huey.”
If John had the sensibility to empathize with the suffering of others, he couldn’t do harm to a less capable being.
That sensibility allows John to act without a commandment, such as: “Thou shall not kick your pet’s behind.”
Perhaps John has experienced that sort of suffering which has allowed him to breakdown his ego into pieces and to know first hand, what compassion is.
On the other hand, John could have rejected the experience of suffering and that rejection could have created a sense of revenge. Obviously, revenge is the other extreme, which is meant to strengthen the sense of ego.
When John is ready to self-transform, that sense of revenge will necessarily have to transform into compassion.
That is most “seekers’” journey.
The ego is shattered through suffering. When that suffering is perceived as a traumatic experience, more rejection will be built and bitterness will come out.
A bitter person is someone who continuously rejects the experience of suffering as “bad luck,” or a “punishment” from God, destiny, etc.
That same suffering is the opportunity to self-transform: When the ego diminishes its size, then there is an automatic perception of that Totality, wholesomeness of Life.
As my friend Mathias says: “The Universe holds a mirror and most are interested in only seeing the reflection of their own faces. By doing that, these individuals miss the opportunity to see the reflection of everything else.”
That is the experience of a self-absorbed individual.
Looking back at my life experiences, Ananda was born out of the ashes of a different person, Avyakt7.
Avyakt7 went through different kinds of suffering. Those were originally taken as traumatic experiences (thus, the need to heal emotional wounds), which brought a feeling of fear, uncertainty and the greatest need to cling to something to bring some sort of security in life and … even after it.
That “security” thing may have different labels among individuals: God, wife, husband, family, work, etc.
The suffering of “losing” all of the above and more, becomes the source of liberation from all.
That suffering transforms when we bow down to life and allow life itself to change us. This is not surrendering but bowing down; that is to allow that life force to do its work as when we watch the forces of Nature, like a Hurricane or a Tornado, in their presence we bow down in awe.
Therefore, suffering is a medium to transform. It is a medium to know about compassion and a medium to dismantle the arrogance of the ego.
Is suffering “good or bad”?
Like everything else, it all depends on the state of consciousness looking at it.
Raysha and Ananda’s father, keeps “fighting for his life” at the hospital.
He is hooked up to feeding tubes and a respirator, which provides 75% of his breathing.
Ananda’s mother is suffering by seeing that scene. Ananda’s father is conscious but unable to communicate. He seems to “come and go” from that state.
Even though the doctors know that there is “no hope,” their role is to keep him “alive” as much as possible.
Euthanasia is forbidden in that country, for the catholic belief is that “ an innocent life is being taken.” “Human life has a dignity which needs to be absolutely respected.”
Lost in words and concepts, “respect” becomes another philosophical debate of “pros” and “cons” which legislature will be fond on getting into.
But that doesn’t solve the “experience” of Ananda’s father. The “black and white” belief of a religion supported by legislature is meaningless when your father is the one experiencing their rigid views.
Raysha took her father’s hand and told him about the story of “life after this life.”
Ananda spoke with Mathias, the wise tree; about this incident.
Mathias: “Do you think that your father is suffering in that experience?”
Ananda: “Yes and No. When he is conscious of the hospital it is yes. When he is conscious of the other experience that he had with you and Raysha in a different realm, obviously not.”
Mathias: “ Your father wants to keep fighting. He requested that to the family in a conversation about death and dying. The question was, what would you like to happen if you are in a hospital unable to speak for yourself? He said: “Fight it until there is no more.” Do you remember that? “
Ananda: “Yes… but there are others seeing that scene as well….why continue with this when there is no hope? Why go through that suffering?”
Mathias: “ Suffering is the way that life has to make someone bow down. When there are layers of arrogance and pride, suffering will break that mentality. Don’t you think that when you feel as if your heart is about to explode from your chest, that this is the best time to learn and think about detachment in life?”
Ananda: “No. “
Mathias: “Yes. It is. That lesson will be learned rapidly in that intensity. It is necessary for the next stage when Mathias will present you father to the Gods of Olympus. You know that there is no death. If Ananda knows that, what should be his attitude to others who are suffering by watching the scene? The answer is not intellectual. Feel it.”
Ananda:” To accept things as they are. To feel compassion towards my family clan. We are all together in this, related. Compassion because I feel their suffering, but at the same time, I know that a lesson of life needs to be learned.”
Ananda’s mother didn’t want to go to the hospital to see her husband in that condition. She felt pressured by the “ El que diran” (The unspoken belief in latin-american culture that every person’s actions in society are subject to the scrutiny and criticism of every person they know.) Ananda gave her comfort by assuring her that no one in the family will judge her. She needs to recuperate. Everyone has a limit and she has reached hers.
The “black and white” laws and religious beliefs are completely unaware of human intention. The action is not the problem but the intention is.
Since we cannot “measure” intentions with honesty, we cannot create laws for society. That is why, laws are only based on actions and to label them as “good and bad” becomes necessary.
Inner honesty is the main requisite which will allow someone to live harmoniously… even to sleep well, until death arrives.
Be true, open and enjoy the lessons in life which will bring a different consciousness, to look at things from yet another perspective.
No dogma included nor laws to abide.
The interesting thing to note is that without the experience of “what is,” we are left with pretty concepts to talk about, discuss so the “I” can look knowledgeable in “spiritual matters.”
The mentality of the follower who only picks up concepts here and there, is not the inner work required to live those words.
In Information technology and the “office environment,” we could sound “very knowledgeable” if we just repeat some concepts and spit them out at every meeting.
TCO (total cost of ownership) ROI (return on investment) IaaS (infrastructure as a service) etc, etc.
All you have to do is to use those acronyms left and right to amaze those who do not know them.
When we transfer that “office mentality” into living life with joy, we will find out that “talking the talk” will not get us an “interview” or a “salary increase” with life.
The duality of mindfulness and no-mind needs to go.
To use the mind to be in the moment, focused in the moment is achieved as well when there is no mind.
No-mind may sound “illogical” but not for a follower of Zen. That concept, “no-mind” is part of their repertoire of beliefs.
Playing in the duality of mindfulness and no mind we forget about feeling, we forget about compassion.
Compassion is not something coming from mindfulness or no-mind. It comes from the heart.
Compassion is not to feel pity for another. “Oh… poor thing…” Compassion is to recognize every aspect “out there” in yourself.
Bryan has a friend who is a heavy smoker. “Albert” just turned 30 this year. Bryan mentioned to him that to be healthy is very important to enjoy life.
Albert understands that intellectually but he says: “I started smoking when I was 15 and it is very hard to quit.”
Albert threw away his cigarette after the brief talk.
The next day, he was smoking again.
Compassion could be the feeling at that point.
Bryan is able to recognize that according to Albert’s consciousness; further suffering may be needed. That is part of his path in life. Bryan recognizes that many times his understanding about his own situation in life was lacking, so suffering was needed to draw the line.
It is not a matter of “will power” alone which is a kind of suppression combined with violence to the self. It is not a matter of further “preaching.” There has to be an internal understanding and love to life and living which is beyond a concept, to be able to change ways into something different.
That change will happen naturally as the product of a new consciousness and not because of some external compulsion, fear or “black or white” law.
Compassion is not coming out of mindfulness or no mind. It is coming out of inner understanding and respect for everyone’s processes in life.
To be addicted to mental concepts without the experience of what something is, may be one of the greatest ways to increase our ego.
That may be “good” for the office world, but that is not part of learning to live life with joy. 🙂
Any Spiritual path interested in transforming the self, shall start with “conquering the mind.”
Because our lives are boxed in a mental cage and we cannot truly increase our capacity for enjoyment in life and fullness when our mind jumps from one place into another. This “normal” phenomena of the modern human being, cancels our feelings, which are of paramount importance to enjoy life.
In reality there is nothing to “conquer,” but the term “conquering” is used to denote that the mind will no longer “run the show” in our lives.
That is a great transformation in itself. When the mind runs in an altered state, or non-stop, it is able to take over and affect our body with stress and anxiety and distort our perception of life.
For example: Do you recall how your last breakfast took place? Let us say that you need to go to work after eating. See how the mind sends a message to “hurry up” not allowing us to fully enjoy our meal, or while we are eating and tasting the food, another thought comes up which does not allow for the full experience of eating, to take place.
The mind is full with pre-conceptions, beliefs, taboos, and judgments and will not allow us to feel a healthy “emptiness,” from all of that. A break of “nothingness.” That emptiness is very important for newness to occur in our lives.
Otherwise, it is the same old thing under a different perspective.
The mind needs to be observed so we can catch how it operates and learn from it. Then, we may increase our capacity for enjoyment and appreciation of life; that is our feelings.
For instance, love to God is what many religions use as a way to overcome the heaviness of the mind by using feelings. However many times those feelings are mixed with fear. When there is fear there is no love and no feelings.
An empty mind is necessary to be able to decorate that empty space with something new. Otherwise we are just adding and crowding the space with additional information.
For example, if someone wants to add “tolerance” in their lives; many will define in their minds what is “tolerance” and will act it out whenever they remember it.
All of that is mental information. Nothing will sink in unless the mind has been emptied from preconceptions and the being is open and accepting to the different scenes which life may bring.
For example, a family may have a dog. The son “thinks” that he loves the dog but doesn’t take care of its needs and does not clean up after that dog. The mother is tired of that dog. The dog senses the environment and becomes adversarial. The mother poisons the dog since getting rid of it through another person will hurt the son’s feelings.
The son is hurt anyway and blames a neighbor for poisoning his dog.
The mother tells a friend about this incident.
What the friend could say?
Whatever the friend says will only show what is in his mind. There are some friends who will side with the mother. Other friends who could find wrong in her actions based on some moral standard. Those are the activities of the mind.
When feelings are operating, a friend could listen and feel. That empathy with someone’s suffering is enough, when there are true feelings of compassion. This is not a “learned” mental action such as giving someone a verbal teaching or making that person feel worse than what she feels.
That openness to feel and accept the role of others does not come from a mental space, but from a heart without self-created mind barriers.
That is more than what tolerance could be. It is called love… and that cannot come from the mind and its concepts, logic and definitions.
It was a windy but sunny day near a small beach by the Bay.
Mathias was speaking with his friends, Raysha and Ananda about transformation of the self.
The topic of emptiness was discussed. Emptiness as the absence of prejudices, beliefs, ideas, analysis, preconceptions, worries etc; which are clouding the mind from feeling at peace and harmony.
Ananda: “Mathias, how do we increase the experience of emptiness?”
Mathias: Emptiness comes to you when you understand the rhythms of the mind and the heart. When you have understood the word harmony. It is a state where the being is away from prejudices. It is a state of appreciation beyond questioning. It is an instant in which you let go, as if you surrender to the experience.
Emptiness could be experienced in different levels, but the “great emptiness” will allow you the metamorphosis to live in a different manner. As it has happened to Raysha already. Big emptiness.
Your cells, your body, your mind will be filled with a different energy. The experience of emptiness is vital to be wholesome, healthy.
When the hands of the clock tell us about a time to come, it is important to be prepared. In the same way, human beings nowadays, experience emptiness due to altered states of consciousness.
Ananda needs to increment that experience of emptiness without bringing into his mind prejudices and to his heart nostalgic sentiments, but rather the art of enjoyment. To appreciate and to smile are the necessary ingredients for a perfect fit.
Ananda: “How could we serve humanity better, by doing things or by experiencing emptiness?”
As you become ready, you will be able to better understand others and Nature, then that service will be of quality. That is because something called “speed-response” will be there. Otherwise, when there is lack of harmony; food arrives when there is no hunger anymore.
Ananda: “Is Compassion a form of goodness?”
Mathias: Compassion arises from the heart. It is that pile of sentiments with goodness, which explode and irradiate towards that which is ready to receive.
That could be a place, a person an object.
Ananda:” For that to happen we need to be in emptiness?”
Mathias: Once you have experimented emptiness, you need to fill that with sentiments, a mixture of harmonized feelings. Once all of that is there, compassion arises.
For example, when you prepare your banana shake; the first thing that must be there is an empty blender, then the ingredients, then it is the mix, and then that mixture it is ready to be given.
You enjoy that.. . and then you have to wash it…
Ananda: “Oh! So it is empty again! ”
If you don’t clean, if you don’t wash it, then germs and disease will appear. The heart becomes contaminated.
To be clean we need to be aware of different energies around us, which we could absorb under different circumstances.
Ananda: “Emptiness brings compassion as long as there is emptiness…” 🙂