July 27 – Allowing Pain In – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

I am becoming water: I let everything rinse its grief in me and reflect as much light as I can.

Another paradox I continually struggle with is how to let others in without becoming them. How to open the door of compassion without the things and people we feel for overpowering us.

It goes as far back as Jesus and Buddha, and the miracle of such spirits is that they show us that there is some basic clear element in each of us, like water, which can glow without a name,  which can allow the pain and grief of others in without turning us into just pain and grief.

Many traditions speak to this. We call it love when we do this for another and compassion when we hold this intention for all living things. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition has a meditation practice called tong-lea that asks us to breathe in the suffering of the world, to hold it in that unbreakable place of compassion, and to then breathe back light.

The beauty of such a practice is that it assumes and affirms that there is something timeless and indestructible within each of us that can heal us and the world if we can just open ourselves to it.

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