April 18, 2014

fierce grace

The most obvious place to look for insight into suffering is religion.  But even within the same religion, differences abound.  The quote below came from watching a documentary about an American who became a guru of eastern thought.  From a wealthy and supportive family, a highly educated psychologist of Ivy League ilk, his books best sellers, sold out speaking engagements, he thought he had it all figured out.  Until he had a debilitating stroke that left half of him paralyzed.  Even more cruelly ironic was that the words that used to flow so easily, no were a sense of frustration as the part of the brain associated with language was also part of the stroke.  He now knew suffering for the first time in his life.  Where he had found solace before, he found hollow words instead.  Several years after the stroke wrestling with both the physical as well as mental limitations, he was still able to put together a book with help.  And his view deepened now to include true suffering which was so inherent to the human condition.  He termed his new found grace a "fierce grace". 

After any major physical “insult,” as they call it, it’s all too easy to see yourself as a collection of symptoms rather than as a total human being, including your spirit — and thus to become your illness. Fear is powerful and contagious, and at first I allowed myself to catch it, worried that if I didn’t do what the doctors ordered, I’d be sorry. But now I’m learning to take my healing into my own hands. Healing is not the same as curing, after all; healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God. - Ram Dass

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