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How do I counteract my idea of personal suffering?

Deepak Chopra
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
To counteract this, we need to find the spirit. Spirit can do one thing that your ego craves very deeply and can't accomplish on its own. Spirit can help the ego escape that painful trap of I, me, and mine. It is strange but true that the very mechanism that builds the isolated self also wants to escape it. The ego wants the best for "me," yet there is another, subtler force that wants the best for all (which ends up being best for me, in the end). Allow this force to express itself, and you will discover that the walls of isolation are not as solid as your suffering makes them seem.

Spirit gives us access to an emotion that cannot be felt in isolation -- compassion. Compassion comes from the root words "to suffer with," and for that reason many people actually fear it. An audience member in Boston on a gray drizzly evening asked me, "How can I feel compassion for the victims of this tragedy (the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) without having it hurt me? I don't want to be injured, I want to offer love and peace." It was a very honest question, and I responded, I hope, on that level.

"Let yourself feel their pain. Let it come into you, and don't be afraid that you'll be injured. Trying to keep out someone else's pain comes from fear for our own safety; in the name of safety we retreat behind our own private walls. Yet the truth is that your pain and the pain of the victims are shared. They make you human together."

Compassion is one of the most honored and saintly feelings because it marches up to the front lines of suffering and says, "Take me." In this giving of oneself there is a direct experience of pain, yet in the giving there is love. Thus compassion has the power to dissolve pain by not avoiding it, but by trusting that love affords the greatest protection. By discovering that there is a reality -- love -- stronger than any pain, you mount your strongest defense.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.