When I went to Auschwitz I couldn’t believe what human beings did to each other even as I stood with my feet on that ground. No doubt the same disbelief went through those people as their breath was stolen from them. Is it that we have to believe it to stop it? Do you have to say ’Yes’ without any trace of wishful thinking or escapism, ‘Yes, this is how it is’. To stop fighting the truth with denial, with doubt and with anything that makes it less real. We spend a lot of our time making life look as little like its real self as possible. We are the plastic surgeons of our life. The last thing we want to face is our impermanence – our one hard solid truth, more reliable than God; a truth as hard and solid as its counterpart; existence. Our awareness and our awareness of our impermanence do this awkward dance in life; it will always end the same.
Until we put our faith in the truths that are apparent, we may as well float around in a spinning teacup looking at the stars for all that we will ever find out and learn about ourselves. And if we want to stop suffering; well, then we really have to take off our tinted glasses and take a good hard look around us. We need a curing song. Our souls are starving as we stock the supermarkets of our days with false nutrition. We swallow a pill to mask our hunger pains. We want truth, understanding,, an answer to our ‘whys’. We want security and control and will even avoid joy to have such certainty. We cling to suffering; it is an old old friend. We know the outlines of its face, the haunting of its sorrows, the weight of it about our shoulders. But when we start feeding ourselves joy, and bliss, divine stories, unassailable truths; such a little nutrition begins to persuade us that it comes down to the way we look with our eyes, the way we hold with our hands, the way we enunciate and alliterate life with love.
The suffering happens because we enact it. It is a play we prompt and allow to unfold; and are forced to watch. But what I know is that there is a final act and that played out upon the same stage is a dance of joy, a poet’s rendition of recuperation. After all of it is said and done it is a stage that we are standing on, with all the plays of the world upon it and we are the Shakespeare sprinkling tragedies and comedies upon it. What never changes is that stage. It is unsullied by joy or suffering. It is reliable, it is pure, it is the same shining awareness that runs through all things.
Here is one of my favourite poems by the Yuma Indians of North America:-
The Curing Song
Your heart is good.
(Spirit) Shining Darkness will be here.
You think only of sad unpleasant things,
You are to think of goodness.
Lie down and sleep here.
Shining darkness will join us.
You think of this goodness in your dream.
Goodness will be given to you,
I will speak for it, and it will come to pass.
It will happen here,
I will ask for your good,
It will happen as I sit by you,
It will be done as I sit here in this place.
As much as I am undone by suffering and walk through it in lost disbelief, disassociating, denying, wishing it away. It undoes me in away that forces me to unfold, it bruises my ignorance, it bullies my stuckpoints until they give way. I wonder - can't such a thing be done with love. I think it can, but when I think of how stubborn and willful we are as children; how a mother has to watch her child make mistakes, get hurt, before she can rush in with a mother's love; I wonder if it isn't like this also on the big scale of things. Such a warmth of love can envelop us when we finally surrender to understanding. I think this can take more than one life. That's why I think there are so many inexplicable tragedies; things that happen to good people; our lense is to small to see the whole picture. Really what tiny focuses we have got.