Being in the Wake of Violence, Part 2
Image credit: Eddi van W
GRACE IS ALWAYS WITH YOU
(Continued from Part One)
I have come to understand that everything in my life is grace, whether I see it or not in the moment. This includes even the extraordinarily painful assaults that I have experienced. They have asked me to look within and clean up the basement of my psyche. They pushed me to my very limit and played their part in helping me see and become a fuller, more complete expression of who I truly am.
I do not feel that we attract situations in our life in the way some current New Age thinkers profess. I do not believe that life is so linear. To think that “I” attracted everything into my life gives far too much power to the ego driven “me” and would almost suggest that our relationship with life is one way or unidimensional. We are multidimensional beings co-creating within a multidimensional universe. Everything we do is part of a wise, compassionate and intelligent whole. We are never alone.
Everything that we think, feel, say, do and experience, within that whole, is an expression of our previous karmic tendencies. Our life as a whole and all the details there within provide us with the exact means we need to evolve into awakened presence, or our I Am state. If we say that we attracted an aggressor into our life, it is only true because we are ALL part of a greater whole – the aggressor and ourselves as players within a karmic dance. We attracted it not from the point of view that “life is happening to me”, as a victim to life, as though we willed the abuse onto ourselves, but from the point of view that we arrived on Earth with a willingness to participate within the loving whole. We experience the life we have because through it we are learning exactly what we need to evolve to move beyond our ego-driven perception of being divided, so that we may return to oneness with Source energy.
In my case, assaults have highlighted ways in which I felt not good enough, ways I had unconsciously given my power away to external ideas and illusions. Through them, I was eventually able to see that some part of me felt that there was something inherently wrong with me, that I was somehow broken. The painful incidents, though I would not wish them upon anyone, and pray I never have to experience them again, provided me with unprecedented means to grow into a kind of love, clarity and forgiveness I never thought possible – for myself and others. They have provided powerful fodder for my cellular knowing that I am unshakably part of an intelligent, loving unity that guides my life, and all of life.
Taking responsibility for any event in your life is very different than blaming oneself for it. No one deserves to assault or be assaulted. As I said last week, no one who is abused should feel as though the actions of their oppressors are their fault. We are not responsible for our attackers’ actions and choices. But to identify with being a victim from an attack and not ask yourself what it is teaching you and you alone – regardless of what the attacker chooses to do – from my experience, is short changing yourself and your true potential.
We are much more than our ego believes we are. We are infinite beings, interconnected with all that is, and our true nature is divine. We are evolving over not just one lifetime but many lifetimes in a journey back to the One. Our capacity to understand, witness and heal is far beyond what we may think.
It takes a special kind of courage to look straight at a painful situation and ask what it is teaching me. Such courage requires a form of ego death, letting go of feeling that life is happening to us. It gives us the power to reclaim parts of ourselves that we gave away long ago to ideas we have about ourselves that do not serve who we truly are.
When we feel broken by pain, it shows you that your inner flower has now grown too big for its pot. The flower is your budding soul and the pot ideas of personal limitation. Your heart can break from pain, but it does not have to. It can break open so you may soar into greater magnificence if you are willing to let go of the idea that you are a victim of anything.
I believe that the universe is deeply compassionate. Like a wise and loving mother, she first lightly touches our shoulder to help bring our attention to what we need to learn. If we are not paying attention, she then takes hold more firmly, so we can wake up to our ways. Eventually, the Earth will shake and we are summoned to our core so we can see who we really are.
THE BREATH OF LIFE
As I mentioned last week, a violent assault almost cost me my life. While I lay pinned to the floor, unable to breathe, my attacker’s arms tightly braced around my neck, I saw with hyper-real clarity through the words he shouted in my face: “I know there is a demon in you!”
At that time, I was practicing Tonglen, a Tibetan Buddhist technique where one breathes in the suffering of others and exhales a wish for happiness to all beings. In the moments that seemed like an eternity, I realized that I was about to die. His words floated by, like flickering illusions on a screen. Thinking it was my time to leave this Earth, I entered into a place where I was sheer space, full of possibility, completely open. There was no sense of “me” through which I could feel hurt. There was no thing towards which he could project his suffering.
In that moment, I saw with absolute clarity that his words were not only untrue, but not real. There literally was no thing to which I needed to react. Faced with my sense of profoundly peaceful emptiness, he had no thing towards which to react. I felt free. As though coming out of a spell, he spontaneously shook his head and said to himself: “What am I doing?” and let go of his grip around my neck. I then was able to talk my way into leaving that environment and get myself to safety. Moving beyond my habitual way of perceiving life through the lens of my ego and entering into the subtler reality that Buddhists call emptiness, literally saved my life.
I am alive today because I knew, not with force of conviction but with absolute clarity, that what he wanted me to believe was an illusion: not real. I was literally pushed to my very limit by the universe into seeing the true compassionate emptiness of reality and the way suffering comes from giving any power to the illusion of separateness.
I will continue this exploration of growth and healing in the wake of violence next week with Part 3.