Still There

April 8, 2009

“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. Those who think they know—and their name is legion—how the universe could have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without death, are unfit for illumination.
So if you really want to help this world, what you will have to teach is how to live in it. And that no one can do who has not themself learned how to live in the joyful sorrow and sorrowful joy of the knowledge of life as it is.”

The above quote was from Joseph Campbell. It comes to mind as I think about a conversation I had with a friend recently. My friend has started to devote herself to daily spiritual practices and she is simultaneously coping with painful childhood memories which seem to arise as she engages more deeply in her spiritual practices. My friend is dealing with her issues by seeing a therapist, speaking to her parents, and staying focused on her daily practice of sitting meditation, mindfulness, eating fresh healthy food and getting plenty of physical exercise outdoors.

Even though my friend is doing all of these things, she still holds a lot of stress in her body, and finds herself working very hard to please others, both at work and in her social life. As we spoke more about her childhood, she admitted that although her parents parted amicably in divorce and she had a reasonably stable life shared between two households,  she still carries disappointment of her expectations for a home where her mother and father were together and lived happily ever after. Now in her adult life, she attracts situations where there is conflict and she is the one who is working hard at keeping it all together.

My friend asked why, despite everything she has done and continues to do, to heal her life, she is still in pain and continuing to attract unhealthy relationships with women in her life. I had no answer for her. I do know that this is the way it just is. In life we suffer loss after loss, it is just the nature of physical reality. Our friends move away to a distant location. Our children grow up and leave the nest. Relationships end. Our jobs get downsized. Students must leave their teachers and become autonomous. People die. All these experiences in life cannot be avoided, but how we live with these losses will determine how well we live life, whether we “learned how to live in the joyful sorrow and sorrowful joy of the knowledge of life as it is.”

It is interesting that even though my friend thought that she had already dealt with her childhood issues through years of therapy and personal growth work, the sadness and disappointment is still coming up. Teachers of eastern spiritual practices tell us that as we go deeper, our impurities come up to be cleared away. They recommend that we stay with the practices of mindfulness, meditation and chanting to keep clearing these impurities. By impurities, they mean all the past impressions of pain and suffering we hold in our physical and etheric bodies. When we are not able to let go of our experiences, energy does not flow but becomes trapped. As we begin to loosen these “knots” of past impressions through spiritual practices, we  revisit these painful areas that we may not remember, since they may have even originated in past lives.

The Buddhist practice of Loving-Kindness and compassion is a way to cope with these painful memories as they arise. It is when we say “yes” to what is, opening to the pain, allowing it to be there with a loving, heartfelt kindness to our selves, that we are able to truly let go. It is paradoxical that it is in feeling the pain, that we can let it go and uncover the joy that was masked by what we held on to. And as Joseph Campbell implied in his quote, it is only when we embrace the good along with the bad and the ugly that we can become enlightened.

I suggested to my friend that she might perhaps want to explore doing some forgiveness work around her childhood issues, that perhaps, even though she has come to terms with what was, she needs to take it further. In practicing forgiveness, we make peace with ourselves and all the ghosts of the past. It is a way of truly letting go.  We are told to forgive, but we are not taught how to do it. In my next post I will write on what I learned about the process of forgiveness.

Related posts:

Restoring The Peace

Lightening Your Load


1 linda 04.09.09 at 6:12 am

great blog…and we have the same books and CDs….


2 Mark 04.09.09 at 11:22 am

Your advice to practice forgiveness is very good! When we forgive we are then able to let go of the pain and we become free!

3 Miruh 04.09.09 at 9:46 pm

Hello Linda,

Welcome! Glad you like the blog. Thanks for dropping by. I took a peek at your blog, awesome, I’ll be by to read more later.

Peace to you!

4 Miruh 04.09.09 at 9:52 pm

Hello Mark,

I agree, forgiveness is essential to the healing journey.

How willing are we to forgive? It takes a lot of humility and surrender which are the other essentials on the journey.

Happy holiday weekend!

5 Liara Covert 04.10.09 at 8:18 am

Miruh, each human being goes through stages of exploring what it means to feel like he falls down and relearns how to get up. This is part of reconnecting fragmented parts of mind, body and spirit. Offering unconditional love and support contributes to healing, even when you do not visualize results in others. Energy lines regenerate themselves.

The friend you mention may appreciate Patricia Singleton’s blog called Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker. Another blog of interest is Svasti: A journey from assault to wholeness. Your friend may discover kindred spirits and even a parallel emotional journey. Writing on a blog or starting one could also be part of a meaningful healing process.

Love & Light,

6 Miruh 04.10.09 at 1:13 pm

Hello Liara,

Thanks for the links to those blogs and your suggestions that maybe helpful to my friend, I will pass them on.

I agree, relating to others who are on a similar journey can be healing.

Peace to you!

7 amanda 04.13.09 at 11:58 am

there are no words – thank you for your wonderful voice :)

8 Miruh 04.13.09 at 1:56 pm

Hello Amanda,

Silence speaks louder than words. Your non-words of gratitude are deeply appreciated. 😀

Thanks for dropping by!

Happy Easter and many chocolate bunnies. 😀

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