Being in the Wake of Violence, Part 3
Image credit: Marcelo César Augusto Romeo
THE UNSHAKABLE PLACE
(Continued from Part 2)
Assaults have provided me with insights into the ways in which I have allowed others’ ideas of me to seep into my being. They have showed me that I needed to step into my own sense of self-value, not by browbeating or trying to gain power over something or someone, but by resting into a deeper truth of who I am, beyond what I was then able to see.
I now believe that the painful incidents I experienced were the universe’s way of helping me find an unshakable place of inner wholeness that no one can ever take from me. This inner place is the substratum of Self that we awaken to through spiritual practices. As I met these painful incidents as compassionate teachings from the universe, they became my powerful teachers bringing priceless jewels into my life.
It is a natural knee-jerk reaction to want revenge for injustice. The fighter rises up and says: “You did this to me. Well, I’ll show you!” But this will only leave two people broken and disconnected from our only source of power – a loving universe. I know, because I have tried to muscle my way into happiness. I have tried to will wholeness. But physical symptoms kept reminding me that I was not free from the assaults. I was still in the wake of their violence, reacting to them.
I have come to see that a period of my life was motivated by anger. People saw me as a go-getter. Outwardly I was bright and keen. But within, anger sparked reactive actions. Anger feels powerful, but ultimately leaves us broken and alone. Striving to achieve, to be the top of my class at university and show the world how fabulous I was, came from an unconscious reaction to “showing” the abusers that I was better than they were. But I was trying to push the pain, the rage, the disgust and the grief away through external illusions of happiness that were no more real than the pain that started it all.
Healing began only once I opened to these emotions and was willing to see what grace they were bringing forward. My own feelings of being not good enough and somehow broken were there before these abusive incidents. I began to see the assaults as the universe’s homeopathic medicine to bring my own shadows to the surface so I could meet them fully and free myself from them.
By seeing with absolute clarity how the abuser who was so convinced I had a demon in me was buying into an illusion, I was also able to clearly see that thinking of myself as broken was also an illusion. The abusers tried to overcome their pain by reacting to it. I too had to see that no amount of reacting to pain would ever help me overcome it. Pain only ceases when we open to it in full presence and listen to the messages it carries so we may grow. Within my pain at being assaulted lay voices of how awful I was, that were likely carried into my life from previous incarnations. I could not pin these painful self-perceptions on any one specific incident. They were my own baggage that I alone carried and that I alone could release. No longer could I blame the ignorance in others for the pain they caused me as the source of my unhappiness. I eventually came to feel compassion for the pain my abusers carried. In my own pain, beyond what they afflicted, I too can experience and co-create suffering.
THE ETERNAL SELF
These realizations challenged my core attachments to who I thought I was. They bring me to the heart of spiritual teachings that show us that we are not our limited, divided selves as perceived by our ego, but infinite beings beyond, unbroken, eternally free.
As we approach Easter, I think of the central message in Christianity of Christ on the cross. There, he prayed that God forgive those who were killing him, for they did not know what they were doing. They were blinded by their ego, limited by fear, and bound by their incomplete perceptions. Their pain was attempting to find freedom by creating more pain. Christ knew he was not limited to the body. He knew that his essence was one with the Divine. He knew they could not kill him, as he was infinite. Similarly, it is said that if Buddha were to meet an assailant, he would only feel compassion, as he knew he was not limited to the illusion of “I”. When Krishna was killed by a hunter’s misplaced arrow, he forgave the hunter and died smiling.
At this time, Hindus celebrate the spring Navaratri, a nine-day remembrance of the Divine Mother. Kali, the great mother of the universe, expresses the sweetest and fiercest love. She both coddles her child and beheads it – not out of rage or malice, but from the depths of compassion, so that the child may be eternally free of its ego-driven small self.
Nothing is ever happening “to me”. What is this “me” to whom we feel it is all being done? Does Buddha put up his dukes to burglars who assault him on his path? Does Christ swear and curse at the injustice of his torture? They show us that we are not who we think we are, not limited small selves that need to fight to survive. We are infinite beings of pure consciousness, unable to be broken or bound. Yes, our bodies may break, but no one can ever break who we truly are.
Freedom came for me only once I fully understood in my cells that none of the abuse I experienced was happening to me. It simply was. Even through the pain, the rage and the distress, I was part of a loving and compassionate whole that was with me all along. The universe was showing me where true freedom, joy and wholeness lay. Through it all, I was being guided home to who I truly am.
I will conclude this discussion next week with Part 4: Healing Truth and the Inextinguishable Light.