“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there is love lacking. The one is the shadow of the other”
- Carl Jung
(by the teachings of Lovingkindness)
The unrelenting flux of life’s changing conditions is inevitable, yet we labor to hold on to pleasure, and we labor equally hard to avoid pain. So many images from our world tell us that it is wrong to suffer; advertising, social mores, and cultural assumptions suggest that feeling pain or sadness is blameworthy, shameful, humiliating. Underlying these messages is an expectation that somehow we should be able to control pain or loss. When we experience mental or physical pain, we often feel a sense of isolation, a disconnection from humanity and life. Our shame sets us apart in our suffering at the very times when we need the most to connect. How strange our conditioning is; to feel so alone in our pain and to feel so vulnerable and isolated in our happiness.
In life, we may look for what is stable, unchanging, and safe, but awareness teaches us that such search cannot be succeeded. Everything in life changes. The path to our happiness is one of integrating and fully accepting all aspects of our experience.
Our transformation comes from looking deeply within to a state that exists before fear and isolation arise, the state in which we are inviolably whole just as we are. Even our will to leave and depart from our experience comes from a passion which is somewhat destructive. Did you know that the word passion comes from the Latin word for “suffering”? Wanting and expectation inevitably entail suffering.
It was Buddha who said “you can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” How few of us embrace ourselves in that way!
Imagine taking a very small glass of water and putting into it a teaspoon of salt. Because of the small size of the container, the teaspoon of salt is going to have a big impact upon the water. However, if you approach a much larger body of water, such as a lake, and put into it that same teaspoonful of salt, it will not have the same intensity of impact, because of the vastness and the openness of the vessel receiving it. Even when the salt remains the same, the spaciousness of the vessel receiving it changes everything.
We spend a lot of our time looking for a feeling of safety or protection; we try to alter the amount of salt that comes our way. Ironically, the salt is the very thing that we cannot do anything about, as life changes and offers us repeated ups and downs. Our true work is to create a container so immense that any amount of salt, even a truckload, can come into it without affecting our capacity to receive it. No situation, even an extreme one, then can mandate a particular situation.