I had the distinct privilege to sit in the energetic presence of the Dalai Lama yesterday in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and it triggered a line of thought on suffering, empathy and compassion that I wish to share here. They were a-ha moments for me and maybe they will inspire expanded thought in you too. The chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet Richard Gere and His Holiness the Dalai Lama began the session with a conversation and his public talk was about love and compassion. My biggest takeaway was about suffering and our relationship with it.
Suffering, in truth, is felt by all and it is through our suffering that we live. We find peace on the other side of suffering. And we must realize that THAT is where our power lies. We must be willing to traverse the hard stuff in order to access that strength. It is the strength of Gods. It is the source for our selves. The emotional, mental, physical and spiritual selves. And it connects us to each other. It is the thread that ties us together because it is palpable across all language. One does not have to hear a persons words to understand that the other person is in pain. You simply feel that that other person is suffering. You recognize yourself in that other person’s suffering and further recognize humanity.
Suffering can be conquered through the action of compassion, for compassion is an action. To feel compassion, one must be moved there through the empathy felt for another. When we empathize, we can access our center for compassion - the heart. When we access the heart, we connect with each other. Compassion can simply be the acknowledgement of another person’s suffering. And in that genuine acknowledgement, you are changed. Your view has been shifted. You can think of it as going up the stairs - you have gone up a level in the home of your being and are able to see more - just as the ability to see more from the top of a building the higher you go. This leads to an extension of empathy in other areas of life, and in turn for more people.
Emotions left unchecked can cause harm to the self. It is okay to sit with your emotions and you should feel your feelings but you should strive to not wear them as if they are your skin and cannot be transmuted. They are a signal. They are a compass. They are not your journey. Emotions are meant to be fleeting - to indicate where you need to be conscious and pay attention - where you must investigate and do a bit of excavation. And in this fact finding mission, you are looking for the root of the emotion. Once found, it can be removed from the system to cause no further harm. Remember, do no harm also applies to the self.
You can exit from suffering at any time. You do not have to use it as a currency to receive love. That is not necessary, for love is all around you if you would only be open to it.