The notion that we are prepared for a situation can be a comforting one, yet it is only when faced with the reality of that situation that we can truly know whether we are ready or not. Despite years of personal growth and introspection, the unexpected touch of a man’s hand on his penis left him frozen in time, reverting back to the scared and vulnerable 7-year-old boy he once was. This experience taught him that healing is a continual process, one that involves both remembering and taking action. Rather than being met with anger or judgment, I found solace in the empathy of a friend who recognized that we can never truly know how we would respond in someone else’s shoes. The Buddha On Empathy helped me understand the importance of friendship and self autonomy saying:
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. When you have spiritual friends [kalyāṇa mittas], spiritual companions, and spiritual associates, you live supported by one thing—diligence in skillful qualities.
In the midst of the dense fog of our illusions, I yearn for a life of freedom. Though there were days when I prayed for death’s embrace, my heart now beats with a fervent desire to live. To heal from the trauma of sexual assault, we must first allow ourselves to be touched once again – even if it means being vulnerable to further hurt. We must shed the masks we wear and reveal our true selves, warts and all. With discipline and determination, we can evolve from this starting point and move forward towards a brighter future.
Pain is certain, suffering is optional.
What purpose do these masks serve? They have only hindered our ability to receive love, to give love, and to find true happiness. To break free from their grasp, we must learn to continuously shed our inhibitions and breathe in the beauty of the world around us. Each day, I fight for my sanity and mourn for the little boy within me who was molested and shamed, and for the anxious young man struggling to make sense of the world. Through it all, I have grown and learned to move through the ever-changing cycles of being. I have embraced the process of shedding that is necessary for our survival and growth.
We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all. I knew that most people never see this reality because they attach to the material aspect of the world. Illusions of self and other fill their vision. I also realized there are those with little dust limiting their vision.
Buddhism places great emphasis on cultivating empathy and compassion towards all beings. The Buddha himself spoke extensively on the importance of empathy and compassion, and taught many techniques for developing these qualities in oneself.
One of the key teachings of the Buddha is the concept of “metta,” or loving-kindness. Metta involves cultivating a deep and sincere sense of goodwill towards all beings, including oneself. Through the practice of metta, one can learn to empathize with others, understand their suffering, and wish them well. Continue with Muata Ashby believing Yoga can enlighten us.