Image credit: Bill Young
(Continued from Part 3)
This blog post, the last in a series called “Being In the Wake of Violence”, goes live in the midst of escalating violence around the world, where cruel acts are reported daily in the news. This post also goes live on a holy weekend, when Jews remember their freedom from slavery in Egypt and Christians celebrate Christ’s message of eternal life. It seems that even the stars tell us that through humility and stillness, we find our pure light. The full lunar eclipse yesterday morning reminds us that we are always close to our shadows; that there, but by grace, go I. We do have the choice to act with love and compassion for ourselves and others, no matter what life brings.
My personal healing from violent assaults involved coming to the complete and full understanding that painful acts inflicted upon me are never about me. They are expressions of someone else’s pain rooted in that person’s suffering and ignorance. Yes, my body and my life were almost taken by them. But the painful actions could have happened to anyone.
I suffered when I lost sight of this truth and co-created in the shared suffering. Forgiveness grew from understanding that another’s actions were not happening “to” me. I was not a victim to any one’s will or power. I was free within myself when I was willing to rest in my full self. I was not a partial self, broken because of someone else to whom I gave my power. No one can take that from me, unless I give it. I needed to remember that I was already whole.
From that sense of wholeness, healing came. This does not mean I did not stand up for my rights and do all I could to stop the assault. But I could only really succeed at doing so from a point of view of resting in my own joy and beauty as I am, not as a victim who is owed something. Those who abuse are not well inside their souls. I could find compassion for that and for myself. I did not need to join into that suffering. By realizing I was never a victim, I could fully heal.
The idea of not being a victim may be challenging to those who are in or carry pain from abusive actions. It may seem as though I am suggesting the abuse didn’t happen, or that the abuser was somehow in the right. Neither of these is true. What is true is that someone else’s actions are never about us. At no point do we lose our ability to choose to love ourselves. To place ourselves in the role of victim would be to deny these truths.
THE INEXTINGUISHABLE LIGHT
My guru Amma, who herself faced abuse as a child and almost lost her life to it, has personally met with women from all walks of life in all kinds of abusive or trafficked scenarios. She calls on women to stand up and be strong, while holding on to their innate femininity. This is an important part of restoring the balance on the planet. She also says that the greatest poverty in the world is the poverty of love. She encourages us to “fill our hearts with love and express it in everything we do”. We cannot make others realize their true magnificence. But in reveling in our own, we can light the way for others to do so as well. No one can stop the voice of the soul. To appreciate oneself as oneself even when others do not is soul food. It is essential. It is the energy that gives rise to lasting positive change.
I pray that abusive and hateful actions may cease on this planet and that anyone experiencing such will find both inner and outer freedom. For those who find themselves with nowhere to go to escape the pain and suffering in their situation, my prayer is that they may be swiftly and definitively freed. Until then, I also pray that they may find extraordinary strength by resting in knowing their own divine nature, beyond the pain of the body, untouched by any thought, word or action.
In time, we will learn to act from the compassionate wisdom which understands that to harm anyone is to harm all beings, including our self. When we truly understand this, painful acts cannot occur. But until such time, we must not let anything outside ourselves quell our inner light. That light is the hope for our humanity. It will shine the way to lasting inner and outer change in a world based on indisputable interconnection.
The flower that grows through the concrete does not do so by hating its oppressor. To hate would be to focus on the concrete’s weight and apparent impregnability. This would only weaken the flower’s vitality and ability to grow. By celebrating its own divine nature, its true essence, the flower is strengthened and freed. It will rise and shine eventually, despite all apparent odds.
Now is the time to contemplate the idea of renewal, freedom and our true eternal nature. Even if you feel you are in a dark and oppressed time, freedom and new life may be just around the corner. I bow down to the experiences that have helped me to find wholeness. I bow down to the magnificence that you are, beyond any illusion or pain. I bow down to all sentient beings, who are everlasting light.
Om sarvesham svastir-bhavatu
om shantih shantih shantih
May there be well-being in all,
May there be peace in all,
May there be fulfilment in all,
May there be auspiciousness in all,
Om peace, peace, peace.