The radiance of that which wants to be born illuminates the shadows, bringing them into the light of awareness that they may be healed. Charles Eisenstein, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible
On Compassion and Community
Does the current level of fear, anger, anxiety, hatred, and divisiveness in the world feel overwhelming? Do we really want to live in this fragmented, disconnected, alienated, self-righteous, and judgemental world? Or is there, as Charles Eisenstein summons in his book, “A more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible?” Perhaps it is only by embracing and opening to our darkness, that we can see and experience both our individual and collective light!
Recently, I was in a conversation with someone about the current vaccine rules, mandates, and protocols. I found that there was no room or possibility to explore alternative points of view from the mainstream narrative. I tried asking questions, no engagement. I presented alternatives to the accepted “facts”, no listening. I questioned the validity and integrity of the sources of information and the reporting organization’s track record with honesty and forthrightness, which was met with anger and hostility. Then, I checked into my body and found a boiling cauldron of anger, frustration, and helplessness. Ah, I thought, here’s where the real work is, I need to make sense of and heal the separation inside of me!
I am a part of all that I have met. Lord Tennyson
Spiritual writer, poet, and philosopher Mark Nepo talks about the two tribes; The “you're different, go away tribe” and the “you’re different, come teach me tribe”. We are all more the same than different, but how we grow is from learning from our differences and embracing what arises between us. There are never just two sides of a story, because there is the you, the me, and the us. In Japanese Dance there is the Ma, the gap between the dancers, which is not just empty space, but a fecund expanse, rich with possibility, creativity, and fertile potentiality. Just like a fine artist explores the space around their subject, what if we began to explore the space between us? It may sound strange, but between us lies our collective wisdom, as well as all we have inherited from our ancestors. In the still presence of that space might we find the emergent future that is wanting to be born!
It’s difficult to explore the space between us when we can barely be with the sacred other who is standing before us, likely wearing a mask, a veil of fear, and strongly held beliefs, assumptions, and opinions that might be in opposition to many of those that we carry. So they become the other, the opposition and the threat to our firmly held positionality. Othering is at the heart of the invisible barrier of separation that keeps us apart! And right now the global power elites, media moguls, and vested interests are promulgating fear and othering. The tactics of divide and conquer have been around for millennia but never managed as effectively as in the past two years. We are currently going through a global rite of passage and the survival of all life on the planet rides in the balance. To make it through this initiation we will need to develop new levels of compassion for ourselves and humanity.
Only when compassion is present will people allow themselves to see the truth! A.H. Almaas
The Latin root for the word compassion is pati, which means to suffer, and the prefix com means with. Compassion, originating from compati, literally means to suffer with. The connection of suffering with another person brings compassion beyond sympathy into the realm of empathy. There is currently so much suffering in the world and we often want to turn away from it, but why? Perhaps, it’s because we carry so much suffering in our bodies and ancestral memories. Our ancestors have been through, war, famine, plagues, genocide, slavery, climate change, colonialism, and all manner of unbearable pain. Much of this pain has been passed down genetically and epigenetically. When we recognize the trauma and pain of our family and ancestors, we become more compassionate and empathetic with our fellow human beings.
When we become aware of the deeper pain we all carry, we no longer have to hold it down. As we open to and embrace this pain, it moves from frozen embodied past, into integrated presence, which creates a foundation for a new future to emerge. So when we allow ourselves to suffer with the people we perceive as in pain, we create healing towards wholeness in ourselves and others. What we can learn from this is that it is just as painful to suppress the pain we are trying to avoid and not feel as it is to feel the fear and pain that has been dissociated in times of stress by ourselves and our ancestors. This suppression was a gift of protection at the time it was invoked by our nervous system, but it’s likely no longer needed.
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. Thomas Merton
When we deepen our compassion we open up the possibility of mutuality, being able to truly feel what another is feeling, experiencing, and thinking as a felt sense in our own body. In this way, we dissolve the myth of separation and recognize the interdependence and co-creation that is unfolding with each other and all of life. This is not a one-time thing or a place to get to, it is an unfolding or presencing with each encounter, with the movement of life itself. This is what we call deep listening at a systemic level. We move from being an object in a world of objects to being the world unfolding within us. We become” the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”
We don’t have to change the world. We only have to bring this kind of deepening awareness and compassion to each interaction and feel the depth of our interconnection and interdependency. One of the key components in cultivating this kind of inter-being is to suspend what we know, believe, and assume and bring an attitude of curiosity, wonder, awe and freshness to every encounter. Especially with the people we think we know the best; our wives, husbands, parents, bosses, employees, politicians, and teachers. “Cultivating not knowing” begins to open us to the greater mystery and the innate healing properties of life itself.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. Martin Luther King, Jr
The work of the Well of Light is to serve life, love, and beauty! Life wants to live, to evolve, through us. Love is the connection that allows us to recognize the interdependency of all of life. And beauty is the aesthetic that connects us with the miracle of life itself. This cosmic dance has been happening for billions of years. We are all part of something eternal and unfathomable. But, we can feel the truth of it in every movement of our body. At this time life needs an evolutionary jump if we are to continue the human experiment. With or without us the dance will go on. Each individual act of kindness, presence, and compassion moves us towards that jump.
The programs and groups we support are designed to bring us together in mutual support, love, and community. Thank you for being part of the Well of Light Family.
With infinite love and gratitude, Michael and The Well of Light Team
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margret Mead