painting by Sam Craft
Lately, something remarkable has been happening; in truth this something has likely always been happening, as it does for all of us, and just perhaps a new door of awareness has been opened. I am able to spend long periods of time in what feels like a bubble of light and safety. Sometimes this ability, or more so happening, occurs from when I awake until late afternoon. I notice during this “time,” I remain in the moment, I do not think of the future or past, and I have no experiences with fear. There is a gentle vibration I feel up my spine, particularly at the base of my neck, and a tingling sensation throughout my body that is very mild, except at the tips of my fingers and toes where the vibration is stronger and seems to collect. I can feel this vibration as I am typing. I can connect into this “state,” (which I hesitate to call state, but can think of no other word), more easily when I am alone or in nature. The soothing sounds of the water drops dripping off of the evergreen trees after a spring rain, the eruption of singing birds flying and their noise tipping my senses into ecstasy, the sweet stream bubbling and flowing downward, the echo of my own footsteps against the soil, all collect and calm my being at multiple levels.
During these times, when I am at would could be called a heightened awareness, I am able to easily tap into complex thoughts and ideas. I experience multiple awakenings and what I can only think are visions. I am entirely calm, seemingly in a state of surrender. My senses are heightened but not to a degree in which I am overwhelmed. Sharp noises and sudden emotions don’t exist. Nothing pierces me, and I am soothed by a voice that isn’t there, a whisper that feeds me with no sound. When I was a child sometimes I would hear angelic music or entire symphonies while alone in my bedroom; during these experiences I had a sense of awe and amazement. I remember feeling safe and protected. When I am in this state of grace, I feel this sense of safety that is reminiscent of my youthful times of music.
Often, through out my day, whether I am existing in this “bubble” or existing beyond or outside of the state, I am given knowledge at a fast and vibrant rate. So unexpected in the degree of capacity that I, as observer, step back in amazement and ponder how a vast amount of learning could be poured into me in a small increment of time. This reminds me of the abstractness, and better yet, invisibility and non-existence of the concept time, a collaborated truism based on our collected and created illusion.
Walking today, beneath and beside the towering pines and cedars, I was reminded of the beauty of connection, and given a mini-lesson in the time it took to walk two blocks. So much with so few steps. And I slipped again into the outside of the varying experience, and watched myself take in the viewing—all in images and a sense of “knowing” I cannot describe in words or in action. There is no vocabulary available, and if there were, then the experience would no longer exist; as it feels entirely secret and precious, in a sacred and honored space that one must reach with delicacy and sincerity of heart. Scattered with images so profound, but equally simple and easy. The complexity wrapped in the packaging of innocence, indeed.
I watch, and simultaneously am soothed, my pain lifted, or at minimum dissipated. I feel as if I am a child and remarkably small but remarkably significant all at once. There is no barrier, no difficulty, no stopping to understand, question, or figure out. The voice is of many weaved and ribboned into one, neither feminine nor masculine, but powerful in the gentleness. I hear from within and from without, even perhaps at a cellular level. And within a moment I understand what I can best describe as pages of information—a small book or pamphlet perhaps, but without the struggle to read, to decipher, to even be present. The occurrence is as simple as slipping under the covers and taking in the coolness and comfort of the bed sheets after a productive and satisfying day, like tired and well-used muscles easing into the reward of finality in the space of safety. And not just my muscles, but my mind, spirit, and entire body—this organism I be.
I see things as if for the first time but also as if for the millionth time, in a way in which I feel in every part of me, I have always had this wisdom. My body becomes light and unburdened, my mission clear, my beingness validated. There is the opportunity so vast and so undoubtedly un-narrow that the chance for growth seems entirely feasible without effort or know-how. Just as my hair or nails grow, I grow. There is no telling, no reminding, the “truth” just comes. I cannot will this experience, control, or even know when this place of no-time will exist, if it exists at all.
I am reminded during this process of the goodness of the world, of the goodness of people, of the heart of people, of our innate love and capacity for love. I am reminded of the lesser and the greater being the same, of the endless sea of potential. I see the universe in the water drop and the universe within each soul.
In these moments of gentle clarity, I cry out in in humility, and through tears beg for the release of pride. In response, I hear this gentle knowing, almost a laughter, but sweet-joy of laughter if it be. The sound without sound whispers joy and hope: “Oh, precious child, it is your humility that carries you.” And I cry again, not out of fear of the experience, but from fear of my own self, that I be not worthy, not entitled, not enough, at least not to partake in an experience that is neither grand nor small, but completely serene.
In this span of being, I can become the trees. I can become the sky and both be and fly. Below me I see angelic shapes, above me the mirror of the angels beside. Everywhere is this gentle flow, and nothing unsettled or too much or not enough. And I can remain here, watching myself walk through this time of no-time, reminding my own self that I am okay and all is enough. I can hear myself whispering, too, that there need not be an answer to this, whether formulated by mind or created by something beyond mind, that beauty is enough without comprehending the source. And then I am brought back through an endless pull and stream into the flow of the universe, increasingly ready to swim without effort. A pull so magnificent that no desire is laid unturned or unexplored, and all the answers laid out in front of me with only a first hope, slipped in before thought.
Today, as I was here, in this place, I was taught of empathy. I was shown in pictures and in moving scenes, and with words without words why I am the way I am. And why perhaps some others experience the world in the same way. So much was shown so fast that I hesitate to scribe, for how can I, being only me, give justice to what transpired outside of time. And in so thinking, this same thought of inadequacy or forgetfulness as I walked, I was told, reminded again, that I will remember enough.
In so far as empathy is concerned, I witnessed many of the sufferings I had experienced throughout my life, too many to list, and too narrowing to mention; but with each of these sufferings, in experiencing my individual sufferings, I understood, as I walked through an outpour of knowing, that because of my suffering I am able to feel and relive another’s suffering.
I understood that true empathy does not exist. That empathy is yet another illusion, and a label being used to classify, and in some ways minimize a people or sect of community.
In my understanding that came in rapid pictures entwined with messages and a quality that can best be described as mini-lectures without pretense, hierarchy, expectation, or manipulation, I was shown the capacity I have, (and in turn others have), to relate to suffering because I have suffered.
I was shown that to state one has empathy for another is to believe he or she is experiencing the others’ emotional, physical, and spiritual experience, and that this is an impossibility; however, the easiest and closest cousin to empathy is the capacity to love and hold another in love while he or she is suffering; this can be attained at a richer and purer level when the one holding, in this case me, is capable of going back, almost slipping back at a biological and spiritual level to a similar experience. In this state of remembering, I, the holder, have the ability to be as close to the one suffering as I can.
This closeness is only achieved, if I have experienced a similar suffering, but not the same, as I am a separate individual with my own scope of experience, my unique sensory processing, and my own way of reasoning, theorizing, and connection. My experience can never be the same as another’s, but the closet thing to sameness is this remembering and connecting.
In this way the true way to connect is in thinking back and knowing what the experience of another might have been like, but at the exact time knowing that the experiences are unique. Taking this into account, the next step or part, is recognizing the own self in another, and how his or her journey reflects an aspect of my own self and my own path. In seeing this I can simultaneously, as I hold and remember recalling my own experiences, also reflect on what could big the “bigger” picture—that of us, the suffering one and the holder, both being spirits living a spiritual life, from the belief point that one reflects and teaches the other.
So whilst I am deciphering and remembering at a physical and emotional level, I am also remembering at a soul-level the purpose, and ultimate meaning, of my own life: to connect and to love. In this I am serving; in having experienced my own suffering I am able to serve by connecting and loving.
All this occurs when I display what the society has labeled “empathy,” and in some cases my lack of “empathy.” In observation, yes, I am focusing on self, but I am focusing on self for a higher-cause and higher-purpose. I am reflecting back on what would be my life and my spirit in hopes of better serving the sufferer. Ultimately, I am serving not empathizing. For to empathize simply means to put oneself in another shoes and feel that experience readily; that is only the first part of what I do. I am also reflecting and remembering my spirit and my mission to love, so I am taking this empathy beyond empathy.
In seeing all this in the span of a few minutes of my walk, I was also shown another part. All of this played out at the same instant, not in order, not chronologically, not spilt out, not split up, not categorized, but gently placed within, as if eye-dropper squeezed out the molecular reflection of a droplet of rain into hand, and I, as learner, sat observing the dynamic spectrum and pyramid of light from something so miraculously small and at first glance simple.
In this span of un-time, I saw that these group currently classified as “Aspergers” are not lacking empathy, that in truth we are complex beings deciphering large amounts of random information at multiple levels and classifying this information into categories to better make sense of this world. And when a sufferer comes, we do the same as we do in our everyday walking life, we look, we observe, and we attempt to sort out. When we encounter something that is not of our “knowing,” as we have not felt it nor experienced it, we try to make sense of this experience the sufferer is having. In this way we may come across as logical or even be perceived as rude, or self-centered, but in actuality we are trying to serve the sufferer by first connecting to our own self, so that we can experience the level of sorrow and be capable of sitting in the pain with the other. When we hit roadblock is when we decipher and categorize, and attempt to cling to a memory or prior experience that is relatable to the sufferer, but no such moment exists. Here we become baffled, as how can we show this compassion and understanding to something that does not exist in our “knowing.” As I received this information, I saw myself in many scenarios reliving the moments when I was able to feel (connect to my own experience based on the past) and when I was unable to feel (finding no reference based in my past experience).
Furthermore, I was taught in these brief moments, that for me, when I am undergoing “empathy,” it does not make a difference to me who the other person is. I feel as much connection to the homeless man, some would deem “stranger,” as to the friend I have known a decade. I do not distinguish. As a child, and still to this day, I felt the suffering of animals, insects, and plant life. In this case I did not need to connect and live as another species, I just knew, and innately understood the root of suffering, that is oftentimes felt as a state of being unseen, alone, and isolated. I do believe that all organisms have the capacity to suffer. I cannot explain this, but I have felt it and seen this. And as I see it the suffering is released, but still remains. Again, I cannot explain all of what I see and in a way seem to “know.” Perhaps this suffering is the mirror image of my illusioned self suffering and seeking companionship, and perhaps not. I do not know.
In so being that in my eyes, since a child, I have within me the ability to love all at the same level, I empathize with all at the same level. This is not to say that at moments I do not feel a higher connection with some people, for instance my children, but I believe, at this time, that connection is brought on by biological means, and perhaps at a soul-level of recognition, or even as a “knowing” that the person or element has entered my life after a long absence of waiting and wishing. In these circumstances, at close look, it is not the other person that I am connecting with but indeed my own feelings and experience. For to truly connect is to imply unconditional love, and in the definition of unconditional my own individualized interpretation and emotions do not come into play.
Walking onward, in only a few more steps, I saw that in some ways, if I was to label this commonly agreed upon form of empathy in present day, that in many ways it resembles something self-focused and not love focused. Again, I saw all of this in an epiphany of knowing, all entering me in a droplet of substance, joined and unified together. There was no judgment or right or wrong, only this knowing I cannot explain. Here, this instant within another instant, all intertwined but separate onto itself, I witnessed the suffering of many.
I saw couples, of many shapes and sizes, holding a space for the other in this dance of “empathy.” But I saw beneath the façade, and understood instantly what mainstream calls “empathy” is not empathy at all. As a majority, many claim to empathize, and many claim that aspects of Aspergers character traits disable some individuals from empathizing. I saw clearly the falsehood in this belief. For in watching the knowledge pour into me, the water flowing with clarity, I was able to grasp in the movement of images once again, the capacity of another to empathize is not related to what he says, does, or did. The capacity to empathize is not held in the viewing of another’s words or actions. Here is where some get caught up. He or she watching the one that “should” be emphasizing has readily decided that the way in which the person acts, in so being what he does or says, is a reflection of empathy. And this is a falsehood.
The empathy is only seen when peeled back beyond the actions and presentation, and thusly seen as a sheer garment draped around the soul. It is in truth at an energetic, connected level where empathy emerges. Therefor what is said and done does not emulate or communicate empathy, true empathy is found in the emotion beneath emotion, and thought beneath thought, at an ever-moving state of energy flowing.
Here is where the empathy takes place: In the space that two allow the both to mingle and join.
Empathy occurs when one is held as the mirror and teacher to the other and one is aware that the other, though undergoing this illusion of suffering, is still learning, growing, and embraced by divine goodness and healing waters.
Here is where true empathy exists if empathy were to exist in any realm: It is in the holding another in a space of unconditional love and acceptance with the absence and non-existence of judgment.
Here in this space one is saying to the other: I like you am spirit who suffers. I like you recognize and experience suffering. I may not understand your exact suffering, as I am not you and you are uniquely you. Yet, I recognize you as spirit, my brother, who like me walks in this world thinking he is alone when in truth you are never alone. I am here now holding you in this space of union and here to remind you I am both yourself and your reflection. I am your heart and your knowing. And in this way you are never alone in your being or in your suffering.
Here is what I understood about empathy—that in the falsehood of actions empathy is masked and recreated into something it is not.
Words are not empathy. Actions are not empathy. Somehow we have been trapped in an imaginary game of believing what one says and does is truth. But in fact, it is the core of the person that rests his truth, what is beneath the layering of humanity, a layering of presentation which tries so very often to way the pros and cons, and to in essence manipulate before taking action.
In this way so much empathy is false and painted to be perceived as caring, where at the heart of the person there exists jumbled and confused thoughts (falsehoods as we are all one), such as: I am glad it’s not me; I am glad I am not going through this right now.
There may exist feelings of detachment, of wanting to run away, of not knowing what to say. But what comes out so very often is yet another way of communicating what is not there beneath the surface, but instead doing in action what one thinks another one wants to hear.
Empathy itself is best shown in just being with another. Just being. Not responding. Not reacting. Not fixing. Not speaking words of sympathy, but just being. For so often the words will not accurately reflect the underlying feelings and/or energy of the other.
All of these thoughts came to me in the span of two blocks, these thoughts and more in an almost endless flow of capacity for knowing. And yet, I was left unburdened and my own fears subsided. Perhaps this is indeed the clean waters pouring into the murky and still-standing being I am, and relinquishing me from the stagnant state of my existence of illusion.