Suffering

There is a tendency in us to find suffering aversive, so we want to distance ourselves from it. Like if you have a toothache, it becomes that toothache. It’s not us anymore. It’s that tooth. And so if there are people suffering, you want to look at them on television or meet them but then keep a distance from them, because you are afraid you will drown in it. You are afraid you will drown in a pain that will be unbearable – and the fact of the matter is you have to. You finally have to, because if you close your heart down to anything in the universe, it’s got you. You are then at the mercy of suffering.

And then having finally dealt with suffering, you have to consume it into yourself. Which means you have to – with eyes open – be able to keep your heart open in hell. You have to look at what is, and say, “Yeah, Right.” And what it involves is bearing the unbearable. And in a way, who you think you are can’t do it. Who you really are can do it. So that who you think you are dies in the process.
~Ram Dass

And I Am That, Too

I’ve had some experience this last week with trying (and sometimes failing) at overcoming my negative thoughts and projections about others.  Luckily for me, I know the perfect remedy.  It’s an amazing spiritual practice from Ram Dass, which can silence those unkind thoughts that are so divisive and cause such great harm.

His instructions are quite simple: Every time you catch yourself judging another person, own your projection by saying:

“And I am that, too”

With this simple, yet profound practice, I am immediately brought back into alignment with my heart, which understands the illusion of separateness, and the beautiful African philosophy of Ubuntu  – I am because you are, you are because I am.  Ubuntu is the essence of being human; that my humanity is caught up in your humanity.