As a teacher, as a therapist, as a human being, however ‘enlightened’ or ‘clear’ or ‘ego-free’ I think I am, can I meet you in the midst of your pain, and just for a moment, not attempt to fix you? Can I simply hold your hand, exactly where you are?
I find it so refreshing when, in meetings or retreats, somebody suddenly gets upset or angry with me. They stop pretending to respect or love or like or agree with me and honestly express their views to me and to everyone else.
Can I stay open to them even in the midst of their anger? Can I deeply listen to them as they tear me apart psychologically? Can I avoid the temptation to get angry at their anger, or to ridicule or embarrass them in front of the group? Can I avoid using the stale old ‘teacher’ identity, the ‘I’m the awakened one!’ story, the ‘I know and you don’t’ armour, the ridiculous ‘I’m no longer a person’ condom, to keep myself at a distance from them?
Can I notice the temptation to ‘defend’ myself against their ‘attack’ (who or what is being attacked, exactly?), and defend my ‘views’ (do I really have fixed views that need defending?) Can I stay with them in the midst of their pain and frustration, and not flinch?
Can I truly join them in the fires of hell, in that place where they have never been truly met before, and there, softly whisper, “It’s okay to be here, beloved one, it’s so deeply okay you wouldn’t believe it. Do not fear. As consciousness, I have been here before. I am what you are. Rest in this.”
To meet the other as ourselves. To stop pretending that we are separate. Not to arm ourselves, but to take each other in our arms, for what is left when ‘you’ are no more?
Teachers, therapists, human beings, enlightened ones everywhere, this is our challenge, and this is our adventure.