Witnessing the pain of others
Although we hear how to deal with our own pain (physical or psychological/emotional) very seldom we hear about the suffering of witnessing the pain of others.
For instance, a loved one, a close relative could be going through excruciating physical or emotional pain: We could hear and see their discomfort, we could empathize with them, we could wish them a prompt recovery, but we could find ourselves absorbing that pain emotionally in such a way that their pain, becomes ours.
A famous case is the one experienced by Christopher Reeve, (actor who played Superman in 1978) who went through many diseases after he was paralyzed from the neck down, after falling from a horse. After his death in 2004, his wife; Dana Reeve died 18 months later from lung cancer. She wasn’t a smoker. She was 44 years old.
As cancer is known for being an emotional disease, we could observe how her husband’s experiences affected her. The symbolism for pain in the lungs is sadness.
Ahnanda is very experienced in seeing the pain of others, I used to take them with me. However, as my awareness increased; that has changed.
There are 2 things to be aware of: 1) How our emotions are affected 2) How the mind is affected through identification.
There is an emotional energy sent by someone in pain. I have been in cases where there was nothing I could do, but just observe. That frustration added further sorrow when the perception of my mind in that moment, changed: “How unfair life could be…” the mind is champion in adding useless comments. “I” identified with someone’s sorrow thus, awareness is no longer there.
It is what it is. Observe. Feel compassion, send get well wishes, but as soon as the opportunity is there to change into another activity; we need to do it, we need to smile again. This is living in the now.
The mind may bring memories. It may bring comments. Observe and let it go.
In my own experience, dancing to upbeat music, has been an incredible help to take my mind away from remembering such experiences. When the mind is distracted, enjoyment follows.
We could turn the page onto another chapter.
Life presents different experiences. If pain is not our own, why not keep our happiness?
Energetically; what it is not ours, we do not need to take with us. That is part of self-respect. To be able to save the integrity of our own self and to know when enough, is enough; that is, when we have reached a limit.
Traditional society may have a different perception on this based on ideas of “sainthood;” (suffering with others or for others) however, society is not concerned in increasing our own awareness through Life experiences.
Compassion is found in the experience of witnessing someone’s sorrow. That compassion is without “practice.” It is natural, real. Nevertheless, to remain untouched by someone’s sorrow is an art of awareness, it is the practical experience of living with no mind.
Seeing sorrow of others is unavoidable but so is our own Joy. Our quality of awareness flips the coin.
Facing sorrow… and joy
Everyone has its share of sorrow in Life. Why?
Because everyone as well, has its share of joy. Duality.
To answer “Why” doesn’t give any comfort, when we deal with emotions in Life. A “why/because” answer is useless, for there is no way to avoid or to “tackle the problem”. We need to go through the whole experience.
There is the type of sorrow and joy which “happen to us” due to circumstances. “I feel sorrow/joyful because…” Those are the types where duality manifests.
Also, there is a kind of “joy” which is the expression of BEING. That one is little known by most. Duality does not affect it. We usually cannot feel it for we have other garments covering it: Emotional traumas.
Observe our typical Joy. Like anything in Life, it is a transient state.
An episode of sorrow, precedes Joy. They follow each other.
The “answer” to go beyond that duality is right in the middle, between that duality; between the yin and yang. However, to experience that balance, that equanimity, may take many other experiences to center our consciousness to feel that equilibrium. It is a feeling.
Experiencing Life with impartiality, is key to ride the ups and downs in Life.
Impartiality is not a “practice”. That equilibrium is cumulative, as we are able to assimilate different Life experiences: Joyful, sorrowful or in between, all included without distinction. With some we laugh, others cry. Smile. That is the middle.
Impartiality has been known as the “Middle Way”, for it is the middle between dualities; however, typically that is understood in a different way.
Sorrow may remain despite the ending of the situation causing it, for “I” will keep the memory of that incident as a traumatic experience. Fear will be born, and that weight will be with “me” as long as “I” live, unless “I” release that emotion.
Unavoidably, there will be the experience of sorrow in Life. Sorrow is meant to change a person through a new perspective of Life. No intellectual understanding can ever do that.
It doesn’t matter whether those perspectives are “true or false.” What matters is the imminent change in consciousness once we cross the obscure passage. Change upon change, eventually we will learn to see the “mirror” rather than the outside perception of an episode. However, the trauma may remain. We still need to clean the slate, dissolve the emotion.
Life will bring a way to free ourselves from past traumas as long as we are aware of them, acknowledge them and be willing to open up. In this way, every Life experience will increase our maturity, our insight; and that will bring us closer to that state of impartiality where dualities are experienced, but there is no traumatic footprint inside. The Middle way.
While living Life, we may learn to witness it without unneeded commentaries coming from the mind.
That creates the perfect soil for inner joy, the type of “inner smile” untouched by the dualities of Life.
Enjoyment: The bottom line
All Life experiences will move through a range “full to empty or empty to full” (- It is just a way to describe) which the conditioned mind is not able to grasp. For the conditioned mind, to go from “full to empty,” means to lose, to be worse off, to go down, etc. Likewise when someone is going from “empty to full,” we label that as becoming better, improving, getting to the top, etc.
Notice that our labeling will determine how we feel about our experience.
Although we are the same human beings, we are different. Every human represents a particular point of an experience on the range of experiences.
For instance, a fat man with a high appetite, low sexual libido, a funny personality and a great fear of heights; represents different ranges of different experiences, all in one “package” which we label as “John Doe.” A thin, bulimic woman with a high sexual libido and bipolar personality, represents another range of experiences.
There is nothing to judge or to label but to observe that there will be people in between those ranges of the fat guy and the thin woman. Life will offer us through all living beings different ranges of experiences and possibilities. Those things are never static, change is guarantee.
Humans caged by their mental “static”conditioning, will be in charge of labeling and defining what is “right/wrong, good and bad.”
This creates a “traumatic” experience.
Every experience in Life, is just that… an experience. We may go to sleep and never wake up again. That experience is out of our control.
Choosing one experience in duality, will bring unavoidably the rejected one. So why choose? Why attach our consciousness to an ideal which will bring the opposite?
Notice that because we are alive, then death is a certainty. Notice that because we are young, old age is certain. That is the range of experiences.
We like to compare labels such as “young” is “better than” “old.”
However, it is a polarity of the same type of experience: Aging.
Every single individual has a perception, a way of looking at things based on their conditioning. We like to label that as “true” or “truth,” but it is just a perception.
Many individuals are caught up in finding the “right” experience in Life, the “true” perception of “reality,” and in that search, they are willing to fake it and will pursue what is not for them to experience.
That is how we betray ourselves. If the “majority” sees a blue sky and I don’t; I must believe that the sky is blue to fit in. Peer pressure. Majority rules. The power of the masses.
What is the bottom line?
To enjoy whatever perception we truly experience, for it is only a perception and it is meant to change, to evolve.
What do we do instead?
We want to hold on to a mental ideal of what “should be.” We strive for that.
We hear many times: “Be yourself.”
That is meaningless unless we are willing to de-conditioning by dissolving our beliefs, taboos, hang ups, ideals and values; that is what Spirituality is meant to bring.
Someone may be experiencing a debilitating disease as an experience. What is there to enjoy?
A disease does not come by itself but adds up a circumstance around our lives. There are many other items that come along. For instance, the opportunity to have free time, the opportunity to be in the company of loved ones, the opportunity to enjoy certain items which other “normal” individuals cannot. There are so many other things to enjoy around the circumstance.
What do we do instead?
We curse our lives, our “luck,” the moment we were born, our parents. That focus in one particular aspect of Life which we reject will poison our being.
Because we are so focused on that one thing, we are unable to see the rest, we do not have the capacity to step outside ourselves, out of the pitiful “I” to observe beyond our narrow tunnel of thoughts. Whatever it is, it will change.
Enjoyment is around that “I.” Enjoy that moment! There is nothing that could last forever. That is a great blessing, indeed! 🙂
Joy is not an ideal
You are experiencing Life. Are you joyful? Are you enjoying your Life?
Yes? You have arrived. Fulfillment is the reward of living Life with joy.
Let us say, you drive your car. Someone cuts you off. Was your mind angry? There is a dead dog on the road. Did you feel sad? The “obstacles game” is on. Observe how those things change your joy.
If you are not enjoying Life, then your search will start. You could look at the things you HAVE, for fulfillment: Your job, your God, your spouse, etc.
Hopefully one day, you will encounter that fulfillment is in BEING.
What you HAVE, what you DO are not enough to be fulfilled.
When the search is inwards, when the trip is about finding who you ARE, not as an intellectual query, looking for an answer; but by being AWARE of those sensations, feelings, triggers which are covering your joy.
The task is not to WORK ON being joyful, for that requires a mental definition of Joy and then that concept becomes an ideal to obtain…
It will never happen.
We discover Joy once the layers of beliefs, taboos, hang-ups, emotional traumas and mind games are left aside.
What we discover cannot be shared to another through a label.
“What is the difference between empathy and compassion?”
Look it up in the dictionary to get a mental answer for a mental question.
The importance of “knowing ourselves,” become more than theoretical knowledge, definitions and concepts.
“Knowing” that you are a soul, through second hand knowledge, will not help you at all.
It will only stop you from looking inwards…
Starting next Thursday May 19, a new blog for Brahma Kumaris followers reading this blog, will be started. Writings there, will depend on your comments.
There will be a link at the top of this blog labeled as: “BK readers” to send you there.
One more thing. That wasn’t “my” idea but … it is in my destiny… 🙂
In the discovery of our connection with the Totality, the meaning of “spirituality” changes completely.
It is no longer the search of something separated from “I,” which could be labeled as “God,” “spirits,” “gurus,” etc. or the experience of yet another state of consciousness, or the practice of religious codes, worship and penances…
Spirituality is the art of living Life in joy.
It is right here, right now, in BEING and not in the future, by becoming someone or when “I die.”
The knowledge of religious tales for grown ups, are similar to knowing the story of the “Little Red Riding hood.” There is the big, “bad” Wolf who needs to be conquered, destroyed, avoided. The story may change as religions change. Story #1: The “bad” wolf eats red riding hood. End of story for some. The fear of being eaten by the “bad” wolf is infused in followers. Story #2: The “bad” wolf is cut open by the woodcutter, saving little red riding hood. The “bad” wolf dies and everyone lives “happy ever after.” That is the “redeemer,” the “savior” story…. Paradise. Followers are hoping for “salvation.”
Away from the little kids’ stories is the presence of that “I.” The size of that “I” is proportional to the amount of suffering experienced. Suffering is not bad. It is not something to be avoided and feared, for it comes as consequence of developing that “I.” Once the “I” is fully experienced, then “No-I” will take its place, little by little, there is a process which some religions pretend to bypass by giving “shortcuts” to their followers. A “shortcut” is another method to increase that “I.” Thus, it is “good”… for it is making things move, but that “shortcut” is not the “method,” the “solution” into being “ego-less.”
What happens when there is “no-I”? Is that the goal?
There is no goal, nothing to “achieve”… “No-I” will bring “I” again. Just like day brings night and night, day.
SO… What is the goal, the objective?
There is none. It is a moving circle, a hand watch moving. Some may say the goal is to see time. Some may say the goal is to have a “nice watch,” a piece of jewelry to show.
So… What I am supposed to DO in Life?
Nothing, unless “you” want to DO something. Enjoy it!
That is why enjoyment of BEING may be the most spiritual “virtue.” It definitely brings “good karma.” 🙂
Enjoy the process
“What is the most important lesson you have learned in your Life as a seeker?”
1) Your perception depends on your state of consciousness which naturally changes.
2) Everything in Life has a process which needs to be respected.
Some perceive a widget to be “good,” others will see the same “widget” as “bad.”
The widget is neither “good” nor “bad” in itself until we change its quality through our conditioning. In Life everything that has happened and that is happening, is necessary as it is; that is why to qualify something as “good” or “bad” means not to understand the process of change.
There is no “ending” state to reach. It is a full circle. For example, “No-I” will bring “I” and in return,”I” will bring “no-I.” This is an eternal process, the “yin” and “yang” which is meant for Life to self-sustain.
“So what I am supposed to DO in this Life then, if there is no goal to accomplish?”
Do what you desire. What you DO does not matter. What matters is if you are fully enjoying the experience, if you are fully AWARE of the experience.
“Can you be more “real” and give down to earth examples to understand?”
You are taking a shower. Are you enjoying it? Do you feel the water caressing your body? Do you fully enjoy that sensation or some mental conditioning appears? Is your mind not allowing you to be fully in that moment? Is your morality not allowing you to caress yourself? Observe. BE AWARE. No judgment is necessary.
Did you work hard to get your 6 figures dream job? Enjoy it. When joy is no longer there, you may need to change. Are you all stressed out and lying to yourself that you “truly enjoy your job”?
Better stop lying to yourself. Sooner or later things will change, because Life is change.
It does not matter what you choose to DO in Life. In our society it matters because we live with mental ideals and moral standards to accomplish something in this Life or the one beyond. You could become a “beach bum” and sell margaritas for a “living.” Are you enjoying it? Someone may tell you “Why are you wasting your Life in that way?”
If your focus is enjoyment, every moment is joy. Life will go and you will be gone in joy.
That is the most spiritual, grateful way to live Life in my humble opinion. You will teach others without speaking a word. You will be “highly” spiritual, without practicing any ritual. You will be true to yourself, honest; without wearing the mask of trying to BE someone who you are not meant to BE. You will be DOING “good” without intending to DO it; thus “true,” egoless DOING.
When you are naked like that… is when society/religions and “isms” will desperately try to “save you,” by dressing you up.
Who you ARE is what you SEE: “Reality” is your polarity.
If the content of an experience hasn’t been processed in Life, then different experiences will bring similar content, until our own perception of “what is” changes without rejection. Inner alignment occurs when we see what we are.
That “change” it is not a mental game or a well-applied method from some ideology or an ideal. It is simply who we “are” at that time in a natural way.
Richard went to the beach a month after his episode with little fish.
This time he went with a couple of wise friends.
After a nice and meaningful talk, Richard was ready to go for a swim; then in that precise moment a guy on his right, called him by making signals. He was a fisherman! He caught a big fish! 🙂
The fisherman was about 30 meters away from Richard’s spot. Richard ran towards him. The fisherman speaking broken English and with joy said: “Picture, take picture!”
The Fisherman caught a small shark.
Richard took the Fisherman’s smart phone/camera, and participated in the joy of the fisherman.
The Fisherman posed for the camera with his catch and Richard took 2 pictures and gave the camera back. The Fisherman gave his thanks and Richard went back to his friends.
Both friends knew about Richard’s previous episode with fish and how he feels about them.
His more “subtle” friend asked: “What did you feel?”
Richard said: “I felt the joy of the Fisherman. I participated in it.”
“and… what did you feel for the fish?” his friend, asked.
Richard responded: “I felt compassion.”
Richard’s friend said: “Because of that compassion, the fish was thrown into the Ocean again… Look!”
In fact, the small shark wasn’t with the fisherman anymore. Richard later found out from the Fisherman, that it was let go into the Ocean. Apparently, sharks could be out of the water for several minutes.
In that episode Richard discovered the meaning of compassion.
Compassion is not pity but far from it, it is a feeling of acceptance of someone’s destiny in Life. In that acceptance there is no sorrow but a sense of being OK with the process, knowing that it is not the final product, the end… but a degree of experiencing something in Life… the circle of polarity.
Richard did not use his passive ego to reject the situation but considered the joy of the Fisherman. He participated along with the Fisherman’s perspective of Life. In that act, at that moment; the Fisherman was the hunter and the fish, the prey. To acknowledge that duality which makes up “One,” is to be aware of what is.
Richard did not use his mind or thought to weigh the possibilities and “choose” a preference, but he acted as he felt, as he was at that moment, knowing that it wasn’t a religious precept or a teaching that he was following, but acknowledging the capacity to feel for both actors: The hunter and the prey. That was a honest action.
When Richard’s compassion and joy was part of that story of the hunter and the prey, the polarity was changed as a new feeling was added in the story: It was the feeling of joy and compassion of the hunter and the compassion and joy of the prey mingling with the joy and compassion of Richard; after all Richard was part of that scene, not as the hunter or the prey, but as a joyful and compassionate witness and observer.