I was moved to write a poem yesterday on darkness gathering which I didn’t post then. It was prompted by reading the post of someone who was struggling with seeing how much hatred, violence and suffering there seems to be in the world. If we are a sensitive person and most especially if we have been abused or neglected seeing so many painful things going on hurts and is a reminder of how challenging human nature can be. I still think it is important though for us to maintain a sense of hope and a remembering that there is a lot of goodness and heart out there in the world. When very painful experiences and things happen to us they can absorb all our energy and pin us in the most difficult place where it is difficult to see more than darkness. Those experiences obscure the light of love and joy and simplicity, all the beauty there is in the world which we no longer see if our focus is always on darkness.
I am midway through the biography of Eva Schloss, the step sister of Anne Frank this week, After Auschwitz. As a Vienesse Jew, Eva and her mother had to leave their home in Austria when war broke out and the Nazi’s began their campaign of hatred over the Jewish people. They escaped to Holland and were hidden there by two families but the second family betrayed them to the Nazis and on her 15th birthday Eva and her mother were taken to Auschwitz.
In a remarkable story of survival they managed to live, due to a set of coincidences which saw them both very close to death on several occasions. Only part of the book concentrates on their time in Auschwitz but most of it is devoted to the issue of how one survives seeing such unspeakable suffering and hatred and lives in the traumatic aftermath without being totally defeated by anger, hatred and resentment. In the end it is only by actively choosing to embrace the attitude of a survivor rather than a victim that Eva rises above the pain that in the end killed countless others. It really is a great read for those of us who suffer with resentment and issues of forgiveness.
I tried to write a post yesterday about Nazism as a symbol of the narcissistic negative killing ego gone horribly wrong. The entire story of Hitler and his attitude to the Jews is related to issues deeply imbedded in humanity in relation to the scapegoating of others and shadow projection. Jews were resented at a time where many were poor and suffering following the end of the First World War when Germany and the German people were highly penalised for their involvement in that war by the Treat of Versailles. The hatred shown towards them meant that people could download their own painful feelings onto a scapegoat people and send them to extermination and exile. Its a repeating theme in history with archetypal and mythical themes : the way darkness is projected and how pain and suffering then end up breading more pain and suffering in an endless feedback loop that then recycles over and over without end. And it seems that the only way out in the end is through forgiveness, empathy and understanding.
I titled this post ‘we see what we project’ to address this issue but I guess in a way a better title may have been we see what we have experienced and we act out of that experience and often unconsciously react out of those experience at least until we become more conscious of the seeds we learned to sow as a result of what we went through. There comes a time when we get to see what the cost of our projections and colouring of the world is and what plants grow out of those seeds. Then we get to see that there comes a time when there may be another way or looking or projecting. We then get to see that in the end we do have a choice in how we choose to react and respond out of our suffering. We never fully escape suffering and some of us have a huge dose of it, but those of us who do often birth deep wisdom out of such suffering.
Along with the Buddha I do not believe there will ever come a time when painful things no longer happen. Hatred, violence and destruction will always be a part of our human experience, but the degree of our suffering does in some way depend on where and how strongly we place our focus on destruction or creation, on love or fear. That is not to imply that we ever get beyond pain but we can learn to embrace that pain and those who cause it tenderly and gently, without unnecessary harsh defences which only end up causing us more pain.
In the end much also depends on where we place our focus, on fear or on love, on hatred and holding on or on letting go and surrender of hate in time. The choice is up to us. We may never be able to turn blind eye to our own or another’s suffering and we should do all in our power to change it if we can, but if not let us place our focus on what love we can give to ourselves, to others and to a hurting world that so badly needs our wisdom, sensitivity and care.