What We've Forgotten
"A person's life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened." Albert Camus
I strongly believe that everything we can learn through meditation (and through life for that matter) we already know deep in the core of our being. This personal belief stems in part from my approach to problem-solving: The first step towards solving any equation or problem is first believing & truly accepting that an answer exists. The same goes for situations in daily life: Believe that a resolution can be found, and you’ll notice that the resolution will flow to you with ease.
This belief implies that the answers are out there. To take this one step further, I believe that the answers aren’t necessarily only “out there” but in here. In us. In our consciousness, sometimes buried so deeply that they’ve been forgotten, lost in the buzz of the doing and the thinking.
So if we already know the answers, and if everything is already written inside of us, why is there conflict? Why is there resistance, and arguments, and feelings of separation and anxiety?
It is because we’ve forgotten – lost what we once knew, including who we are deep down, which is pure, unconditional, expansive love. Which brings me to our topic: Remembering love.
So just how have we forgotten the truth behind love, and that we are love?
Think of yourself as an infant. Every interaction you experienced was one of love and comfort and support. People cooed over you and held you and even though you may have kept your parents awake night after night, and even though they were forced to sacrifice elements of their life for you, they still loved you fully and unconditionally. You were not judged based on how you affected their lives, but for your true nature: Baby. Human. Love.
Then as you grew older, the interactions you faced weren’t all positive ones. As the love you felt from new people in your life became a more conditional type, you began to internalize this. Your true nature was blanketed with subtle ideas of “wrongness” or “not good enough” as you were punished in small ways for your mistakes in school, and as you met peers who had different opinions than you. Your true self, Love, became hidden and forgotten as you assumed a type of façade – a mask that you wore (and still wear) to protect yourself from the judgment and hurt.
Thus, we’ve forgotten Love through years of self-judgment. And this is reflected in our friendships, relationships, and in how we treat ourselves. It’s true that to love another, we must first love ourselves. But this initial step is sometimes intimidating because of the way we judge ourselves based on our own pasts and our own conditioning. This self-judgment creates a trance of unworthiness and clouds the purity of our true nature. When we lose sight of the simple truth that love is the core of our being, we’re utterly unable to love others freely and without judgment, because we are drowning in our own self-loathing.
You might think to yourself, I certainly don’t loathe myself. I’m okay with who I am. But I ask you – how many times a day do you catch yourself doing/thinking/saying something, and then wishing you hadn’t? How often do you sub-consciously label your actions as “mistakes”? Do you ever feel like “kicking yourself”? Even these small negative messages are a form of self-loathing, and they add up.
Most of the time we’re blind to the love that we’ve forgotten and neglected – We’re in a trance, and we don’t realize how we’ve turned on ourselves. It shows up in small ways - maybe there’s a sense of unease or unpleasantness as we interact with others, a sense that others are judging us, a wondering if we’re really good enough.
The good news is that freedom – true, lasting freedom - is possible, and it begins in the smallest increments, right here in this very moment. Now. If we don’t regard this life right here in this moment with love, we can’t be happy, and we can’t love our world or others in it. The path of the heart begins with forgiveness - the healing of whatever is keeping us from being in this moment, right here, without judgment. If you find yourself judging someone or something in this moment, you might ask yourself – where or what have I neglected to heal? For example, if you’re in a situation with someone who is annoying you or simply “rubbing you the wrong way”, the inquiry might be: Why am I not okay with imperfection? Where have I failed to heal my own battles with imperfection?
So what causes change? What allows us to finally wake up?
The key moment to any healing process is when there is a softening of the heart to ourselves. This is remembering the simple rule “Be kind.” This is crucial and it is necessary. Each time we automatically react to another person, the second we silently complain about their actions, or the moment we brush them off, mentally filing them into a folder with past situations or events that have scarred us, instead - we could pause. We could whisper the mantra, “Gentle.” This serves as a very soft, yet very piercing, reminder of the other person’s realness and his or her vulnerability. You remember: In any moment, everyone is doing the absolute best that he or she can do. And suddenly you wonder, how could I have forgotten? Kindness, no matter what. Love, in the face of anything.
And as with anything, this practice starts with ourselves.
This is where our loving-kindness meditation comes in; the practice of non-judgment towards ourselves as we breathe through this moment and through the next and whatever distractions each moment holds. In the instant that we embrace this life in this moment, suffering dissolves. Our identity shifts. We open up what is closed.
In this way, each time we sit in meditation is a sacred practice of healing – taking off the mask, allowing ourselves to feel the hurt, and once again remembering that all we are is Love.
If I were to leave you with one lesson, it is that there is no limit to healing if our self-compassion is true and pure. We all forget. We come back to full remembering when we truly are able to forgive those tendencies that put us to sleep. And what a beautiful morning that will be.
“For the warrior of light, there is no such thing as an impossible love. He is not intimidated by silence, indifference, or rejection. He knows that, behind the mask of ice that people wear, there beats a heart of fire. Without Love, he is nothing.” Paulo Coelho