I'm thinking a lot about suffering today. As a nation, we are suffering as much as we have in my memory, with our racist, hateful bully of a president. The combination of hatred and ignorance we have seen this week in Charlottesville and Washington are staggering. And I notice my own fear and hate in response, which is another layer of personal suffering. However I need to stay in contact with that pain in order to speak, act, and resist.
In my psychotherapy work, watching the news, in personal conversations, at moments of 2 am angst, the Buddha's words echo in my mind...
There are three causes of suffering.
1. Aversion (hate, fear, dislike, division).
2. Clinging (greed, insatiability, narcissism).
3. Ignorance (avoiding reality, checking out, "phone time," dissociation, not seeing truth)
And what I'm thinking is, this is Truth. We see it all around us. We are all suffering, as citizens, as members of marginalized communities, as families, as individuals.
We seem to get stuck in patterns of suffering. Our current national version is a toxic stew of hate, fear, and deliberate ignorance. Of course, there is greed in there too. Gotta protect my piece of the pie! And, the kicker is, we've seen it all before.
What I notice is that personal AND political patterns of suffering get stuck and repeat, like a skip on a record (remember those?) It takes a lot of attention, skillful action, love, curiosity, intentionality, and clarity to start to make changes.
This is where practice comes in for me (and many others). When we sit quietly together, we find a still point in this whirling world. We find that there could be a moment not totally dominated by "the three poisons" (aversion, greed, ignorance). And in that moment there is hope. And compassion!
It is from that moment that we can set an intention to nurture truth and love in ourselves and, as best we can, with those we come into contact with. In that moment we gather strength to speak the Truth and to stand up to lies. We have a strong center from which to speak and act.
As psychotherapists, we are healers, protectors, lovers of truth, lovers of love. But damn, this is hard work, especially these days! We talk a lot about "self-care" but how? When?
I want Crimson Gate to be a place where healers can come to heal. To find that quiet place that nurtures us so much. To be together in our rawness and suffering and joy and questions in a way that feeds us.
I'm working on ways to offer this more. More meditation, sitting, community, teaching. Whatever we need to hang in there and show up for all this suffering.
What do you need?
Megan Rundel is the resident teacher at the Crimson Gate Meditation Community in Oakland, CA..