When you live in a relatively small community of strongly empathetic people and something tragic happens, it’s like it happens to everyone. This is part of the challenge and the beauty of our human experience. We cannot avoid our pain, because we are surrounded by others who have pain as well, and it reminds us of our own pain. We seem separate, yet we are inseparable. We share the human experiences of birth and death, joy and pain, fear and loss, love and affinity. While the form of each experience is unique to the individual, the content all fits into the same spectrum of emotion, with love and peace on one side, and various shades of suffering on the other (loss/grief, guilt, fear, shame, hate).
When death steals a child from this world, breaking the hearts of mom and dad, the ripples of that pain are felt in all the people who touch their lives, in any way. In loving support of those experiencing loss, the community gathers to say “You are not alone. I feel your pain. I am here.” While no one truly knows the pain felt by another, we know what we experience within ourselves when we imagine ourselves in their experience. The nature of empathy is that feelings and emotions can be felt by anyone, not just the person they originate from. When you feel something, you feel it inside of you, not outside of you. But it may be another person’s feeling. This is where tragedies in an empathic community become a beautiful mess.
It’s beautiful because the community gathers to show their love and support. At its core, pain is the sense of separation, the psychic experience of being separated from yourSelf, from Source, from God. It is never really true, but it is certainly experienced as real in the body. When we experience pain, we feel alone, because separation is the nature of pain. That is why showing support and Love through your presence and connection with someone in pain is so incredibly beautiful. You are reaffirming that they are not alone and not separate. However, while your physical presence is often very necessary and supportive, it is your spiritual presence, whether you are physically close or not, that truly offers the healing of pain.
This is where it often gets messy. Please know that I don’t use the word messy to disrespect or judge what happens any more than I judge my own beautiful mess in the kitchen after making a big meal for lots of people. Judging the mess would make it a lot less fun to clean up! But noticing the mess with neutral awareness (wow, look at all those dirty dishes, and food scraps on the floor, and stuff all over the counter) is the first step to cleaning it up. The beautiful mess that I’m talking about in this case has to do with the huge store of pain that was triggered by the deeply painful experience of an Ashland family. The ripples of healing have spread far and wide as this family openly and courageously shares their experience of death, and their journey beyond it. The healing has just begun.
For the family that experienced sudden loss, there are the daily questions: how can I be with this pain? Will it ever pass? Can I bear this? How do I live now? Many in this community have already asked and answered the questions: How can I show up for this family? How can I support them? How can I best Love them? I have witnessed an incredibly beautiful demonstration of presence, love, compassion and friendship in this community, and I am so grateful to see the depth of love here. It is a love that pours forth from a community of deeply empathic and loving souls. For it is love that allows us to experience our empathic abilities.
When we witness someone in a painful space (emotionally/psychically painful), our empathy allows us to recognize our shared experiences. We may not have had the same exact experience in this lifetime, but we may have had an experience that was similarly painful. We may have also actually had a very similar experience in another lifetime, in which case witnessing that pain in another may seem incredibly overwhelming. But the love that allows us to empathize with the pain in someone else is also the love that allows us to heal our own triggered pain, while giving the other the compassion and space to have their pain. When we give ourselves permission to become fully aware of the buried pain within us, we give others permission to have their pain as well, rather than resist, fight or bury it. The daily questions we can ask ourselves then are: In what ways do I try to manage pain? In what ways do I continue to try to bury pain/become unconscious to it? What pain am I carrying around within me? How much of my life-force energy is constantly being used to continue to hold onto/bury/manage this pain? What amazing things might I discover about myself on the other side of this pain? How can I heal/move through this pain, rather than trying to manage it?
Answering these questions requires that we take a step beyond our ability to empathize. Empathy is the first step in recognizing pain, but it doesn’t take us all the way to the other side of our own pain. Our ability to feel is a powerful source of connection, understanding and communication with each other, but feeling alone does not offer enough clarity to pass through pain that we have deliberately hidden from ourselves. When we feel, we may not always know whose feelings we are feeling. If you are a strong empath, you may often experience going from feeling elated to depressed in just a few minutes because you are strongly feeling many different people’s emotions. This can be confusing and frustrating! The step beyond empathy that gives you clarity about who and what you are feeling is called clairvoyance. It is the ability to see the energy you are feeling, and to see the truth of pain.
Pain obviously cannot be avoided when we are human because separation is part of the experience of having a body and loving other people who have bodies and therefore appear to be separate, (especially when their body isn’t here!) The entire world is a collection of apparently separate things. When we use our ability to see (clairvoyance), we recognize all the layers of appearances of separation, both physical and energetic, and we see the underlying fabric of connection. We see the All (God, Source, Oneness, That which Is). When we see the All, we see that separation is not really true, it just appears to be real in this world. We then begin to trust that pain need not be avoided. We begin to trust more and more in the seemingly invisible connection that is Life, the infinite, the All, the undivided…Spirit. As we see and trust that Undividedness that is Spirit, we also recognize, and really experience, that suffering is optional. A wise person once said “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” (Anyone remember who that was?) Suffering is the experience of identifying with pain. You are not your painful experiences or emotions. You are having them. They are moving through your body-mind. They are showing you where you have become divided or separate within yourself, where you have forgotten your Wholeness.
Like empathy, clairvoyance is an ability we all have. It is within us, not separate from who we are. Developing this ability means moving through heavy layers of unconsciousness, flexing some perhaps not-often-used psychic muscles, and moving through our pain rather than managing it. When we stop at empathy, we become lost in managing pain. When we use empathy to help us become more compassionate, we can then use clairvoyance to help us discern the energy, know whose it is, and see the truth.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” When we begin to really look at everything, to recognize everything is energy and to decide to feel it when it’s helpful and see it all the time, we truly open the doors to seeing God. We may know or believe that God is, and that God is in everything we see with our physical eyes, but when we look more with our inner eye we really see the illusory nature of this world (maya as it has often been called), and we come to know God.
Clairvoyance allows us to see pain for what it is, a picture of separation. Clairvoyance is our ability to see that picture of separation, and choose whether or not to identify with it. When we choose to forgive it, (let it go), rather than hold onto it (identify with it), the separation/division is dissolved and returned to wholeness. Another word for pure is whole. To be pure in heart is to be undivided, to have no separation within. When we choose to see the Light of God within everyone, we release our divisions. When we allow ourselves to release pain (division) within ourselves, rather than try to manage it, we come to know God, to know our Wholeness, to know Peace and Joy even amidst the pain of this world and our human experiences. Thus the beautiful mess becomes a still pool of clarity, calmness and peace. And the Beauty remains.