The things we are passionate about are the things we love most, the people or pursuits which inspire us, capture our attention, get us out of bed in the morning long before everyone else, or keep us up late into the night. Our obsession with what we are passionate about, the flip side of passion, can also become our suffering.
The word compassion means ‘to suffer with’. When we see people suffering or in pain, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual; our humanity compels us to ease their suffering and relieve their pain. What we mustn’t lose sight of is that we can never truly know another’s experience or destiny; nor can we do for them that which is their ‘job’ to do. We can only ever walk beside them and offer our support. Reaching out is the first step to healing – and while we may be first to offer help – unless it is either sought or accepted, it truly cannot be received. For we are all beings with free will and before any intervention can be effective, permission must first be given.
Healing itself is love expressed through thoughts, words, prayers, and deeds. To assist others when they are in need while not depriving them of their autonomy or dignity is the challenge we face and one way we demonstrate respect at a time when people may be feeling powerless and as if life as they know it has been irrevocably changed. When coming through such difficult times we want neither to create victims or villains, victors or vanquished, but rather people who share a common commitment to working together as fellow human beings.
We are all students and teachers and we all have something to offer with regard to learning how to do things differently, which we can only ever know is even necessary as a result of our previous experience/s. These principles apply equally to solving the problems now confronting countless numbers of people throughout our world, as they do to the individual who, having recognised the impact on their life of what they have been doing up until now, decide to reinvent themselves and their way of being and relating. For all of life is about relationship and it extends outward from our relationship with ourselves to that which we have with others and our world.
When we ‘suffer with’ we validate another’s experience or feelings without judgement. We acknowledge their pain and feelings of loss or desperation but we do not take it on for ourselves. Our ‘job’ is to be the raft that leads to the far shore, to shine the light for another to remind them they are not alone and we will get through this together one day at a time, and to be enlightened ourselves by the inspiration that all human beings are capable of when they refuse to let their spirits be broken.
When we remember the saying “There but for the grace of God go I.”, we accept that if we are spared tragedy then our job is to help ease it. And, that what we learn from tragedy and who we become as a result of it, is the gift we have to pass on to others. In this way, nothing is wasted and there is no pain without gain.
Inner Sense No. 23 | April 2011