People fly in from all over the world to attend our center in Siem Reap. Due to the nature of what we do, we are blessed to share amazing moments of joy and ecstasy with clients who become very good friends. We are blessed to meet so many good people who spiritually awake. There is also another side of our work, and that is many of the people we speak of here arrived in deep suffering from pains that range from emotional to mental to physical and spiritual.
Some come here to heal a cancer, a broken heart, broken childhood, seek reprieve from things that break them up inside, so many had broken souls and devastated lives. We hear stories of bad caregivers, bad doctors, bad medicine, desperation, angst, bad spiritual healers, financial hardship, and more.
Some just come because they are sick and tired of the rat race that drives people crazy and makes them sick.
Although healings take place almost every day at our center, and there is a lot of joy and beauty in the air. One cannot escape the fact that much suffering precedes the visit to our center. More suffering than one soul can bear, suffering that makes one humble.
Often, the question comes up, “why all this suffering, can there be a purpose for it?”
Well, as we know it, much of the suffering is caused by things like lifestyle, poison in the environment, culturally conditioned thinking, poison in the heart as some say, medical treatment gone wrong, accidents and mistakes… Stuff happen. Life is like that.
Not all suffering has a Karmic cause or purpose. Much of the suffering in the world is not necessary. However, the question is whether we can get something from it, to help us in this life or future lives, or to help others.
There is ALWAYS room for extracting wisdom from situations no matter what. That is the primary job of Vishuddhi chakra, to seperate the poison from the truth–to extract wisdom from situations.
One perspective on this is illustrated below. I quote some of the sources that we use t inspire our souls to continue, to not fall into despair, to not lose faith. This prayer, has a special place in my heart:
“May this suffering serve to awaken compassion”
It is an ancient Wayist prayer to Avalokiteshvara. Tradition has it that Mari of Magadha prayed this prayer for the first time at the foot of Iesous’ cross, when she came to an understanding of the reason why He allowed the crucifixion. Her heart was broken, almost to the point of death, she wrote. The concept has been with us for more than 2,000 years and has been a source of healing ever since.
Then, there is a perspective from an old Sufi source:
“Overcome any bitterness that may have come
because you were not up to the magnitude of the pain
that was entrusted to you.
Like the Mother of the World,
Who carries the pain of the world in her heart,
Each one of us is part of her heart,
And therefore endowed
With a certain measure of cosmic pain.”
Our sadness, fear and longing are universal expressions of suffering that are “entrusted to us”. If they can be prayerfully dedicated to the awakening and freedom of our hearts, this suffering may awaken compassion. As we meet our pain with kindness instead of bitterness or resistance, our prayer is answered. Our hearts become a sea of loving awareness with room not only for our own hurts and fears, but also for the pain of others. Like the Mother of the World, we become the compassionate presence that can hold, with tenderness, the rising and passing waves of suffering. Then, truly we can take courage and continue the quest, take the vow, and pray like ShantiDeva:
May all beings everywhere
Plagued by sufferings of body and mind
Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
By virtue of my merits.
Then, we truly can take the Four Encompassing Bodhisattva Vows (1st century) in emulation of the Lord:
Masses of creatures, without-bounds,
we vow to save them all.
Anxiety and hate, delusive-desires inexhaustible,
we vow to break them all.
Dharma gates beyond-measure
we vow to learn them all.
Buddha Way, unsurpassable,
we vow to accomplish it.
And then there is the suffering we carry, inflicted upon us by those in our past. We are taught by culturally conditioned thinking that those people perpetrated against us, that we are owed more loving, we are owed another kind of loving but no. Those people did whatever they could, whatever they were capable of and of course they owe us nothing. No-one, no thing owes us anything. What mistake we make is to emulate wrong behaviour, and to cling to the pain of a wound long gone, and to bind ourselves to hurtful people by our bonds of dislike and hatefulness. In that, we simply perpetuate the wounds, we make ourselves sick.
Do not be concerned with the faults of other persons. Do not see others’ faults with a hateful mind. There is an old saying that if you stop seeing others’ faults, then naturally seniors are venerated and juniors are revered. Do not imitate others’ faults; just cultivate virtue. Buddha and Jesus prohibited unwholesome actions, but did not tell us to hate those who practice unwholesome actions.~Dōgen