“To be a conscious person in this world, to be aware of all the suffering and the beauty, means to have your heart broken over and over again.” Sharon Salzberg, InwardOutward.org, “Daily Quote,” May 31, 2018
Sharon Salzberg is an author and teacher of Buddhist meditation practices. Those in Christian and psychological traditions will recognize this Buddhist belief we share as the Christian and Jungian teaching of the wounded healer. The best healers are those who also have experienced and have known the most about suffering. We daily see this in our small group grief recovery group, Walking the Mourner’s Path. Three or four of us are the facilitators holding the group together. The real healers are those participating in the group who are trying to live through the death of a loved one and know something about what the others in the group are thinking and feeling. The same is true for all of those in 12-step recovery groups.
When we talk with spiritual friends who are suffering, we listen and listen and listen. At some point they will mention someone else who is suffering who helped or reached out to them. This is our clue subtlety to tell them that perhaps at some future date they can be able do the same for someone else. It is the old native American message of having walked in someone else’s moccasins that gives us compassion for that person when we have a hint of what his or her life is like.
Sometimes the only resurrection that we ever see in tremendous suffering is developing an awareness of what it is like for others who are also in distress.
We have a choice, bitterness for the suffering or an understanding of compassion for others who also struggle.
Four disciplines are telling us this same message about the wounded healer. I know there must be other traditions as well who are sending this message. When several disciplines intersect, for me this is a sign of a truth.