Student: I have been spending time with someone I care about deeply. And I have watched them consistently choose a karmic pattern that is self- destructive...or, rather, maintains the “self” instead of taking care of the human.
Teacher: It moves us to compassion, doesn’t it, to see someone tortured by egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate in that way?
Student: I wish! That’s exactly what I want to explore. The practice success for me is that I didn’t have my typical conditioned reaction. I was able to refrain from participating in the karmic dance, but I watched a different orientation arise that perturbs me.
Teacher: Which was?
Student: My “detachment” felt like separation: “I can’t help you if you keep choosing suffering. I can’t be around you if you want your karma. Why do you want to suffer when it’s unnecessary and something else is possible? If you don’t care enough to make a different choice, why should I care about you?”
Teacher: So there was judgment?
Student: Yes, there was judgment! I felt there was something wrong with the person because they choose to suffer! Nothing I said made a difference so why bother? I guess I was not all that disidentified.
Teacher: Good to see, yes? The attention moves from one process of suffering, identity maintenance, to another, aversion, but behind it all is that familiar undertone of “something wrong.”
Student: So you are saying that “I” did not react as I previously would have, but the attention was still in the clutches of egocentricity.
Teacher: Exactly, and it’s not surprising, is it? It’s an old groove. How many times have you chosen suffering over freedom and received compassion instead of judgment?
Student: Very true. Until I actively practiced cultivating a relationship with the Mentor, the judgment was directed towards “me” by the voices of self-hate. So how do I work with this? How do I relate to this person?
Teacher: How about practicing loving them unconditionally? What if they are in your life to assist you to choose lovingkindness no matter what?
Student: I almost knew you would say that! Does that mean I ignore or support my loved one’s karmic choices?
Teacher: Interesting isn’t it, how unconditional love becomes equated with condoning egocentricity. Perhaps that’s your koan? What would “love” do?
“The first step to the knowledge of the wonder and mystery of life is the recognition of the “monstrous” nature of the earthly human realm as well as its “glory,” the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed.” Joseph Campbell
One of the more challenging places in practice is to accept and live from the realization that everything in life is Life.
This requires us to drop all identities – including the “me” that feels affronted by what is perceived as karmic, evil, cruel, unjust, unconscious and hateful.
Immediate resistance arises when we contemplate this level of unconditional acceptance. It feels fine to give up an identity of “being bad” but to give up an identity of “being good”?
We are deeply conditioned to equate complete acceptance of “what is” with a passive and tacit participation in the perpetuation of “something wrong.” How can anything be different/change if “I” don’t at least articulate or protest “my” objection to the status quo?
If we let go, even for a moment, the “self” righteousness of “my” emotional response, we realize that practice is not advocating tolerance of evil or giving up goodness. Its only encouragement is letting go the process that creates and maintains the illusion of separation and divides Life into what is and what is not acceptable.
If we pay close attention, we will see that one of ego’s ultimate stands is its assertion that “I” can change “what is.”
As long as we are busy discussing the impossibility of tolerating a pedophile, a Hitler, the corporation that destroys an ancient forest or the government that passes an unjust law, we don’t see the “conversation” as just another bamboozle to keep alive the illusory world of opposites with “I” at its center.
Greed, hate and their by-products have always existed and always will as long as egocentricity exists. Only in transcending the illusion of a separate self can greed and hate be dissolved. It’s no small wonder then, that egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate’s best strategy to maintain itself is bamboozling us into believing the answer lies in solving (or at least talking about) the problems created by egocentricity – drugs, war, discrimination, prostitution, trafficking, environmental destruction, government, social evils, poverty – rather than dissolving the ego. In fact the voices are quick to turn this deeper realization of the need for inner transformation into an indictment of a “passive” response to the world’s ills!
This is why the Buddha taught, “Love heals hate.” For where there is unconditional love, there cannot also be an “I.”
But how do we practice/cultivate unconditional love?
“Love focuses on the goodness of Life in all its expressions and augments that which is positive. It dissolves negativity by re-contextualizing rather than by attacking it.” Daniel Hawkins
This quote gives us a clue to a potent karmic circuit breaker in the face of “other” people’s unconsciousness and a practice doorway to the unconditional.
Ego’s response to unconsciousness is aversion, anger or intolerance often expressed as judgment or criticism. If we can expand awareness to acknowledge “all formations are subject to suffering,” we have access to compassion.
Compassion arises in accepting that the seed of what makes “you” behave unconsciously is also in “me,” that we’re all tortured by the same process of self-hate and we’re all subject to the universal process of karma. It’s the human experience to be identified with an ego. It’s not personal. And there is nothing wrong with it.
Compassion re-contextualizes karma by dissolving judgment and breaking down the illusion of separation.
Tolerance becomes available as soon as we see the person suffering.
Assistance then becomes a possibility. Instead of attacking “Life” from a place of “something wrong,” we open to the grace of another way of being, an expanded awareness that is patient, kind and respectfully supportive of where someone is. In other words, there is a dawning recognition, that every human being is a node of the Intelligence that Animates waking up to itself.
We could say that compassion arises as the recognition that we all suffer because we are all deluded by the same process to believe that we are separate from Life. Unconditional love arises as the recognition of the reality of the oneness of all that is, joyfully engaged in the process of transformation.
Unconditional love is a powerful process of “being not doing.” It takes tremendous practice not to believe the voices that dismiss it as a weak, vulnerable, or futile response to the “problems” created by the “ego.” As Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”
When we move from judgment to compassion to unconditional love we have transcended the “mind that created the problem.” We are no longer in the process of ego that created the duality of self and other in the first place.
What arises as a response towards “unconsciousness” from this place of non-separation will be dictated by the moment. We can never know what that will be. What we can know is that, in that moment, a node of the Intelligence that Animates has awakened to the joy of knowing itself and ended suffering for all.
“Compassion dispels the illusion of separation
Unconditional love confirms the reality of oneness.”
For the next 48 hours, practice the movements of the karmic circuit breaker…
- Watch judgment arise.
- Re-contextualize: Expand the awareness to recognize ego in action.
- Does compassion arise when you acknowledge that the source of suffering is the same for all?
- Re-contextualize: Expand the awareness to acknowledge authenticity awakening
- Does unconditional love arise from a sense of connection to the suchness that is all that is?
Note: Do not check with conditioned mind to determine if compassion and love are your experience.
R/L your practice experience.