That’s what you offer another person. When I look at some of you, I know you have problems with addiction and sexual obsessions, problems with loneliness and problems with anger, diseases and frigidity. I see the whole sea of stuff and you tell me about it, and I see curriculum after curriculum.
I see a group of beautiful souls on earth, each having its own karmic work to do.
At the same moment when I see this stuff, my heart hurts. But you don’t protect your heart from breaking, because a broken heart is like cracking a shell to let the deeper heart come forth. Cultivating a compassionate heart is like the monk who is crying because his son has died, and his student comes up and says, “What are you crying about? You know it is all illusion.” The monk replies, “Yes, but the death of a son is the greatest illusion.”
You don’t close off your humanity, but if you don’t find balance within that humanity you’ll burn out. If you don’t balance your humanity you end up putting armor around your heart, and if you armor your heart you’ll starve to death; that’s why you burn out, because you’re not getting fed.
If you are going to be free, your freedom means that you do not avert your eyes from anything, in yourself or in anyone else.
Freedom means to sit in awareness with what is. No aversion, no attachment. They say that for a saint, all the world are their children and you feel the suffering of another person the same way you would as if it was your own child. It’s almost unbearable.
What makes witnessing suffering bearable?
There is a little statue of the Buddha, and it has a little smile at the corners of its mouth. That smile is called the smile of unbearable compassion. It sounds like a paradox; the smile of unbearable compassion. If you were a somebody in the world, you couldn’t bear the suffering, but you are the universe, that is what you are. You are all of that and the balance is cultivated inside of you. The smile of unbearable compassion. The smile of a compassionate heart.
That ability to embrace the suffering into yourself, to just keep taking it in and taking it in and look towards it instead of away from it, and then take the way in which it reacts in you and keep doing that delicate balancing number, to balance that you still feel the humanity and at the same moment you allow. You don’t sit around judging God, “What have you done to me? I am a good guy, what are you doing this to me for?”.
You don’t apply your rational criteria to the universe, because the way karma works is not understandable by your rational mind.
Your rational mind is a product of karma and a system cannot understand something that is meta to itself. It is a logical impossibility. You don’t hear the full universe. Here’s where the faith comes. The faith is deepened through your own practices, through your own direct experiences. It’s not belief that someone hands you, it is faith that comes from your own direct experiences. So you finally learn to keep your heart open in Hell.
– Ram Dass
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