There is a pressure on every interaction we have. A push. Sometimes an impatience to get to a result. Sometimes a leeriness that we are being manipulated. Sometimes a form of disappointment in advance, an expectation that things will not go well.
Taken together we might call the result anxiety. Meta-worry another cause to add another layer, we worry about being anxious….
We resist exposure to what we don't want to see, to hear.
"There's enough violence!" We might cry. Why expose ourselves to more?
Is it exposure to violence – in the sense of being in the presence of violence, taking part, being victim or victimizer, complicity? Or is it an awareness of our immersion in violence – violence that is at once ubiquitous and also quite specific in origin and intent? Which of these are we resisting, violence or an awareness that shines a light on our complicity that we fear?
From within this way of being within violence we project violence onto everything we allow into our perceptions.
Want a reason to practice compassion?
Compassion shines a light on our shadows. It helps us discover our projections and disarm them. Compassion aligns us with what-is while developing our strength to meet it.
Developing strength is so unlike acquiring power.
That constant pressure, that anxiety, robs of us of our strength. In our disequilibrium we chase after power out of desperation. We cannot help but recognize our weakness, but we misunderstand it. We seek to pull down those who – in our projections – threaten us. We think power will give us an advantage.
And so it goes. All the way down the drain….
Compassion, in its very first glimmers, begins to change this vicious dynamic. As we allow the slightest entry of peace into our being our strength begins to rebound. This is a virtuous cycle. If we allow it to continue.
One of the most tragic sources of suffering is the way we so often refuse to allow this to happen. We are frightened by what we find there. But this fear needs to be examined if we are to get any farther.
Who is frightened by the entry of compassion?
"I" am frightened. Ego rejects compassion. Ego – an untrammeled habit of perceiving existence from within a master-illusion of a separate and dominant self-hood – rejects compassion because compassion will lead to its loss of dominance. It will lead to our disillusionment. We will stop believing in its existence and its hold over us will dissolve.
We conspire with Ego to ensure this won't happen. A bulwark of habit, acting as the only crutches we have in our weakened state, claims we will collapse without it. Our reluctance to leave the ruts we've dug for ourselves is reinforced by the projections of fearful consequences put before our eyes by Ego in its desperate attempts to maintain its hold.
We become afraid to see who we've become. Guilt rises up.
We insist that what-is must be intolerable. Why else would this feel so much like drowning?
Want to know why violence is triumphant? This is why. This process repeating itself in individuals and groups all around the world. As some fall further into the clutches of these delusions, their explicitly violent reactions trigger our fears even more. Look at the Twentieth Century. It was a race towards MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. This is the only "answer" violence can offer. That the largest living population of humans to that time was boxed into this trap with no way out is a sign of how powerful this dynamic is. How pernicious. How all-consuming.
"We've heard this all before!"
"It's only words."
Amazing how easily we defeat our only way out of this impasse. We defeat our only chance for something else.
It's at this point. In this tiny little tick of internal defeat, that we let violence flood back in. This is the root of our complicity.
And all it takes to change this entire pattern is to suspend our reactions. For a moment at first, then for a while longer….
Suspension is not repression. Repressing our fears and their reactions is just another form of violence. Akin to repression is our desire to set our fears aside. We turn our attention to salvation. In some future saved state we will no longer be in pain.
Suspension is not sublimation. We need do no thing to suspend. That's it. That's all we need to do, nothing.
In this space that is now empty of our habitual reaction the first thing we recognize is that instead of our expected escalation of fear and anxiety, of anger and separation, we feel the entry of a new kind of calm.
What had always been an impregnable barrier,
"There is nothing beyond my fear but more pain and suffering so I must not let it sit for a second without reacting!"
This, our habitual stance, we find not to be true.
There is something beyond fear and it is not worse.
It is better.