Removing the Veil
When we think of Awakened or Enlightened beings, I always think of Jesus and Buddha, for starters. They both represent to me the the human embodiment of divinity. They embody unconditional love, crystal clarity, healing powers, psychic abilities, compassion, and an elevated state of mind and spirit that encourages and inspires us. In my years of spiritual studies, I have questioned, how can I be more like them? Here I am, a human being, struggling through life with the bumps and bruises we all go through. I have felt so far from that lofty goal, yet if I think about it, it is my pain and suffering that gives me a little bit of enlightenment or awakening each time I endure and self-reflect. It is possible to aim ourselves in that direction because awakening is a gradual, evolutionary process. There are degrees of enlightenment. We all have this illumination deep inside us, parts of it are just buried, veiled, and overshadowed. Yes, our limiting beliefs, our unresolved wounds, our defense mechanisms, our unconscious behaviors all can shroud our light. So one by one, we can start to uncover our light by mindfully addressing these issues.
We could be living a loving life, leading with our hearts, but are we doing this in a balanced and healthy way? Do we let people in who are really not good people, and who hurt us or betray us repeatedly? Discernment is certainly an acquired skill we find along the way, often through trial and error, good reasoning of the mind, and being willing to SEE WHAT IS. This is no small feat, as we need inner strength and ability to tolerate the truth we don't want to see. When we consciously do this, discernment takes its place in our spiritual tool-bag, so eventually we don't cast our pearls to swine, and we can take ourselves out of harm's way.
Do we take on people's suffering, or are we able to help them even more when we remain neutral? Therein lies the difference between empathy and compassion. While compassion begins with empathy, to be empathic is to take on the pain of the one who is suffering. With the help of meditation and/or mindfulness practices, an inner reservoir of peace is established, and A SMALL GAP is there between you and the one you empathize with. That gap allows your empathy to transform into compassion. The desire to sympathize, to understand, to help; not the willingness to take on a person's pain. This gap is the one thing that distinguishes the burnout of empathy from the non-burnout of compassion. This is essential when living life, but also as a professional working with others. By holding a more neutral space, it becomes healthier for both parties.
No matter what roles in life we find ourselves, the path to Awakening begins in our relationships. It is there that we can do much of our personal work. Meditation takes it to another level, where we can be willing to SEE WHAT IS as well as HAVE A SMALL GAP between us and someone's pain, including our own.