Sitting with Sorrow
What a gift we give when we sit in silent compassion with those in sorrow.
It is ingrained in us humans to want to assist those we see hurting. Especially when it is someone we hold dear, someone we love. I have found myself wanting to fill the space with something that might ease, that might offer some balm and so words, well intentioned, tumble from the mouth.
The words used, meant to assist the one suffering, to put things in perspective, to shine the light on what is good, for in truth something good is always burgeoning if we can relax the grip of sorrow, the words that reach to say ‘this too will pass’ often have the opposite effect.
Yes, it is helpful to put things in perspective and there is always someone suffering “more or less” this is the domain of comparison, but to deny one their full expression of pain is tantamount to saying even here, even in sorrow, you don’t quite measure up to those REALLY suffering. Even in sorrow then, I am unworthy.
We feel their pain and in some way, it becomes ours too and we seek to ease it.
What a great gift we give then when we simply sit in love and compassion, allowing the space for whatever arises to be and in the being to permit dissolution. This is the path that transmutes sorrow into its constituent essence which will permit the light to rise in new and wondrous ways.
We mirror the five divine acts: creation, manifestation, dissolution, concealment and revelation in our own small world. And while we are told, and understand to some degree, that these are happening simultaneously on both the cosmic and relative level, that they are not discrete, not separate, we cannot skip any of the first four in order to arrive more quickly at revelation. No matter how deeply and sincerely we desire it.
Dissolution is the active process that supplies the energy for what is new to arise; for what is concealed to be revealed.
It is in meditation that we dissolve, for a time, our sense of limited self and in rising back to the surface, claiming our individuality once more, we are re-formed. We are always becoming. Being vs Knowing. Being takes up all the space. It moves and expands into every corner, it pervades. Knowing is the recursive response to that being, doubling back to reflect and apply at some future time.
Little by little, we become something new. A more refined version of our whole self. It is the practice of meditation that permits me to hold sorrow in a new way. It also makes me keenly sensitive to the unintentional pain caused when those who love us try to make it better, to move us forward by looking elsewhere. This has its place and will come in time, and its time is aided by permitting the fire to burn. Meditation is the fire that ignites consciousness, burning off the dross allowing sweetness to rise to the surface.
What a gift we give when we sit in silent compassion with those in sorrow. Gift yourself. Meditate.
Instinctively we humans reach for the stars. We yearn to touch the sacred, the transcendent and in doing so, be touched, held, known. We are touched by life in so many ways, large and small, sweet and bitter. Yet we ache to be touched, to be truly seen.
It is from the gift of embodiment that we may touch, be touched, that all relationships may be known. We do our best to care for this body. It is the means of experiencing life and the vehicle of our every expression.
“When the body is well the spirit rises up” This touched me deeply. Ever alert for the many ways we humans may heal ourselves, I looked up the author.
Jan Vanier philosopher and theologian is the founder of L’Arche. There are 149 L'Arche communities in 38 countries around the world. It is a community for those with and without intellectual disabilities with the fundamental notion that from the body relationship grows. The body, with all its human frailties, as a gift of communication.
It is wholly steeped in physicality, touch - without the gloss of sex- as support, giving rise to feelings of security and revelation. Touch quite literally connects and holds, not as in possession or ownership but as supportive embrace.
In meditation we touch the deepest source of Self. In the turya state, the fourth state beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep, is the state of nirvikalpa, the non-conceptual transcendent source that is, truly speaking, not a state but the natural circumstance in which individual awareness touches the wholeness of Self and in that is held, nourished, transformed.
It is the relationship of truest Self that supports and nourishes all other relationships. We thirst to touch the depths of our very being.
Vanier says that L’Arche is “a transmission of vision not a formula” to be replicated. We want to latch onto principles, onto doctrine but experience demands we go further.
How do we cultivate our ability to experience?
Śaiva Tantric meditation holds that the body is divine; it is the very means to experience not only the world of material reality, but the highest Self. Awareness is taken deep within, held in the embrace of purest love, met by the fullness of light that is the light of our own sweet consciousness. To develop this relationship, to touch the space of transcendence is too be more fully human.
Innocently, without agenda or force, awareness naturally explores its depths, and in that, we cultivate the habit of going deep into everything. Anywhere we place our awareness on the surface of life, any teaching, any circumstance, we dive fearlessly into the center. We touch its essence.
Nurturing, stabilizing this relationship, knowing Self deeply, permits one to be present without either attachment or aversion in the space of choice. We stand apart not in disinterest or separateness but in compassion love and wholeness. To do so, we must first experience and cultivate relationship with our truest Self. We must touch, be held in the embrace of Consciousness writ large. Know Self than the knowing of all else will be nourished.
More and more I experience the significance of what it means to say that meditation is both a gift and a tool. It is the means by which each individual may realize their birthright, to know, to experience the whole self, and in that deep experience, given the means to pierce to the core of absolutely everything.
Aristotle, one of the most influential thinkers in the history of Western thought whose works cover a vast range of subjects, including logic, ethics, metaphysics, politics, natural science, and physics, has at the core of his teachings the foundation of experience not intellect. This is a conundrum for those who call themselves Aristotelians. The question is how to experience these teachings, any teachings not just as an intellectual exercise but deeply felt and known? We study and contemplate yes, but experience demands we go further.
We want the profound and beautiful teachings of the masters of consciousness, the masters of philosophy, the masters of poetry and love to come alive. Those beings who stand at the pinnacle of each tradition but whose words have become rote and dry because we attempt to replicate instead of experience. To be in relationship with Self is to be in relationship with grace. To be touched, to be held by grace. And in that, to be truly known.
All humans yearn to be touched, to be held in one way or another. It is from the gift of embodiment that all relationships may be known. Cultivate your capacity to touch your deepest heart. Meditate.