For some reason this sentence has been on my mind almost every day for the last few weeks.
We are all broken, just as we are all perfect in our imperfection.
We have recently become aware of the suicides of two people who inspired us, and showed us better ways to live. They seemed to have it all, they were people we admired. What went wrong? Were they simply unable to live with the unrealistic expectations we have of ourselves and each other?
I believe that we are all broken in unique and different ways. There is not one amongst us who does not suffer and yet this suffering is for some reason shameful - clandestine, hidden away, as if we will be forever shunned if people see who we truly are.
And yet I think that this is exactly what we are here on earth to do – to find a way to be more authentically ourselves. To know and accept ourselves, to cradle ourselves when we are suffering so that we can cradle our friends and family when they hurt in the same way.
Our heroes should not have to suffer alone. We should be able to accept the full humanity of ourselves and others. And this true acceptance means sitting with the parts of ourselves that suffer, and not being afraid to share those parts too with others so that we don’t leave them alone and despairing.
I believe the heart of the world is breaking apart at this time as it has so many other times in its long history. It seems that we are being asked to consider the prisons we have built for ourselves. We are being asked to embrace the emotions that have been shadowing us our whole lives.
Our spiritual teachers don’t shy away from suffering and pain. In fact these were the very reasons they came amongst us. Our suffering and brokenness is a legitimate part of our humanity, (some would say an integral part), and it is something that we can acknowledge, understand and eventually share with each other.
It is the shame we carry that keeps us hiding from each other and leads to great suffering. Shame is another legitimate part of our humanity and yet it is the most feared and least understood. Once we acknowledged it and understand its causes with true compassion, we make room for transformation and we are able to help each other find true wholeness.
It can start with asking each other how we are feeling and really listening to the answer. It may be necessary to ask more questions or sit in awkward silence for a while to find the depth and trust in each other (and ourselves) that allows true healing to begin.
And if we are unafraid to reveal ourselves as suffering, vulnerable and flawed human beings, then we can open the door for others to bring their whole truth to us.
Society has made us uncomfortable with each other’s dark places with each other’s pain and suffering, as if we think that if we can just distance ourselves from pain then we will be free of suffering ourselves.
But as we know this is not true. There is suffering within each of us that needs addressing, and far from being something to avoid, this suffering can be the gateway to our true connection with ourselves and others.
We can simply sit with ourselves in silence for a short time each day, and eventually this inward focus will help us to recognise our pain and to understand it a little more fully. When we learn to trust our inner life, we find we are able to commune for a time with the mystery that lives at the depth of our being.
And when we invest our time in this way, slowly things will begin to shift. We will see our suffering with less panic and more understanding and we will recognise that same pain and suffering in people and situations outside of ourselves. We may never welcome these difficult emotions, but as we feel more comfortable, we may be able to sit with them a little more peacefully and lend our presence to that which we once so heartily rejected.
It is the hardest work we’ll ever do but also the most deeply rewarding.
We are all in this together.