Saturday, June 17, 2006
I always did say that "life is a four-letter word; and so is pain"
The Daily Om author agrees to some extent...
Pain is a fact of being and one that permeates all of our lives to some degree. Since the hurt we feel may be a part of the experiences that have touched us most deeply, we are often loathe to let it go. It is frequently easier to keep our pain at our sides, where it acts as a shield that shelters us from others and gives us an identity -that of victim- from which we can draw bitter strength. However, pain's universality can also empower us to use our hurt to help others heal. Since no pain is any greater or more profound than any other, what you feel can give you the ability to help bring about the recovery of individuals whose hurts are both similar to and vastly different from your own. You can channel your pain into transformative and healing love that aids you in helping individuals on a one-to-one basis and spreading a tide of curative energy throughout the world.
First of all, I have to disagree with the notion that "no pain is any greater than any other". There are definitely levels of suffering - I have not known the greater ones, but I have known greater ones than some (which may include the author of the Om too, judging by his statement there...)
Secondly, "spreading a tide of curative energy throughout the world" necessitates some collaboration from said world - which is not a given either.
The Om philosopher explains himself further though:
The capacity to heal others evolves naturally within those who are ready to disassociate themselves from their identity as victims. In fact, the simple decision to put aside the pain we have carried is what grants us the strength to redeem that pain through service. There are many ways to use the hurt you feel to help others. Your pain gives you a unique insight into the minds of people who have experienced trauma and heartache. You can draw from the wellspring of strength that allowed you to emerge on the other side of a painful experience and pass that strength to individuals still suffering from their wounds. You may be able to council individuals in need by showing them the coping methods that have helped you survive or simply by offering sympathy. A kinship can develop that allows you to relate more closely with those you are trying to aid and comfort.
Ah - the key word there: "sympathy".
One has to be bereaved himself in order to starting noticing those that will give it out spontaneously, thus showing genuine kindness of heart, and those that need to be almost forced into displaying that most basic of human sentiments.
It never was difficult in the least for me to feel the pain of others who were bereft - even when I barely knew the person, I offered my sincere sympathy and tried to alleviate, temporarily of course, their pain as best as I could...
That is the minimalistic definition of the word "healing" though - but it is better than nothing at all indeed. But then there are many in this world who empathize not with the pain of others in the least way - and they still believe themselves to be basically "good folks". I overheard a lady once say, in a hospital, amidst so many heavily-afflicted with a variety of diseases (and some were even dying) that she didn't get emotional about anyone else's illness, unless it was family. This person didn't consider herself to be heartless in the least and stated this fact about herself the most matter-of-factly way imagineable... She obviously has no concept of unity among humanity - that we are all family on this planet, even with the evil ones that number so heavily among us as it is... The best that we can be, ideally, would dictate that we would even feel sadness when an evil one dies - for he did not and never will now get his chance to mend his ways after all. Offering sympathy to the ones who actually mourn the passing of an evil individual -whether they ignore that underlining trait about the person knowingly or not- has got to be the hardest thing anyone of us could ever accomplish, I imagine. That would be scoring high points too for one's soul, if we can manage such a feat at all...
Helping others can be a restorative experience that makes your own heart grow stronger. In channeling your pain into compassionate service and watching others successfully recover, you may feel a sense of euphoria that leads to increased feelings of self-worth and optimism. Your courageous decision to reach out to others can be the best way to declare to yourself and the world that your pain didn't defeat you, and in fact it helped you heal.
Thus, it could help us heal as well as helping others heal. Nothing is ever done entirely gratuitously in this world, we knew that already; here though, we have a win-win situation that is exemplary - as much so as it can possibly get anyway... Let this be, then, a call to arms of a different kind - not 100% altruistic, but then nothing ever is either...!
Called we are into compassionate service - may euphoria not be far behind indeed, for there is no better decoration to have bestowed upon us, verily!