Feb 2017 Part 3: Looking Suffering In The Face

from by Kimwei

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Looking Suffering In The Face - the first step towards changing the world

Pain is painful. It’s painful to be in pain, to see someone in pain, to see the suffering in the world on the news every day. It’s impossibly hard. We are angry. We panic. We shut down. We detach. We engage. We are overwhelmed. What do we do?

I believe the key to addressing suffering in the world is simply this: to look it in the face. To quietly and calmly look, and to see, to see it all. That is the first step. The step we as a planet have yet to learn to take.

I’ve had the misfortune to be there with a loved one suffering unbearable physical and emotional pain. Or you could say, I’ve been fortunate – to be able to be there for them, so they didn’t go through it alone.

Before that, I used to be terrified by the prospect of seeing someone I love in terrible pain. It brought on a feeling of cold dread. But what being with a loved one in pain teaches you is what’s truly of value in that situation. This is not panic, or attempts to help, or to make it not so (when it cannot be made different), or even to an extent, empathy.

What’s needed is presence - witnessing. It doesn’t sound like anything of value, simply witnessing, but the reality is that WITNESSING IS EVERYTHING because the opposite of witnessing is denial. It’s from witnessing that clarity comes, stillness comes, and from stillness and clarity comes aligned action. If you are truly present with someone whilst they are in pain then you will know what is needed, and sometimes, witnessing is in fact all that’s needed.

This being true for the individual, it’s true for global suffering too. It’s easy to get distracted or wrapped up in trying to stop the wrongs in the world. Instead w hat if you could cultivate an ability to truly witnessing that suffering, and quiet answers will come to you in plain calm voices, speaking slowly, clearly and from a place of true clarity, and then you will find your action.

credits

from Pause For Thought: BBC Radio Devon, released January 30, 2017

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