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Suffering and spirituality 2

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by Nielk, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    WOW! You were a witness to the 9/11 attacks. It was intense enough to watch the replay on tv, but to actually see it happen before your eyes must have been terrifying. What did you do? And how did you process this?

    Fortunately, resilience is an amazing part of the human spirit. Everybody has their own way of getting through a life shattering crisis. For some, forgiveness seems to be a part of their belief system, part of their equation of recovery. (Not that this is always effective, because recovery from trauma has its own rhythm and timing.) Others are just really good at blocking things out--sometimes denial and compartmentalizing come in handy to get you to a place where you can begin to reconstruct your life. Though in this case, it is often the children of the various holocausts who pay for their parents unresolved PTSD. If the trauma isn't processed by one generation, it will inevitably get handed down to the next.
  2. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I think unconditional love and forgiveness are two separate entities. It's possible to unconditionally love everything, as an emanation of the One, but not agree with or condone behaviors. It's like looking on two levels at once - seeing the perfection of the Divine Spark, while also thinking "I can't believe you just did that!"

    I feel that we touched on this in this thread. Nielk, do you know what rabbinical tradition says about unconditional love?
  3. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    I don't think forgiveness is about agreeing with or condoning behaviours.
  4. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Loving unconditionally does not mean that you give up discernment.

    Being a loving (moral) human being requires that you to say no to "evil," and all its assorted flavors, in both yourself and others. Sometimes that means rejecting someone completely, and/or removing yourself from their life.
  5. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    How does unconditional love differ from other kinds of love? What does unconditional mean?
  6. Nielk

    Nielk

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    I am a child of holocaust survivors and definitely suffer because of it. It is part of who I am as a person. I have nightmares about it. It is mind blowing when I think of how humans can stoop so low in a short period of time. One day they are a loving father and husband and the next day they are gassing Jews just because they are told to do so. I definitely have unresolved PTSD from it but I don't think that forgiveness comes into play at all. I think "not forgetting" is very important because history seems to repeat itself especially if no lesson is learned by it. To realize that there is such evil in the world is just a fact. It does exist, whether we like it or not. We are not in control of the evil. We can only control what we do. If we bring decency, caring and love in this world, hopefully it will have a ripple effect and the balance of good will overtake the evil in this world.
  7. Nielk

    Nielk

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    I'm not sure that true unconditional love exists. If we would think of a mother's love of her child, it's probably the closest you can find of unconditional love. Still, a mother will rebuke her child when she feels it necessary. Does a mother forgive her child no matter what the child does? I'm not sure. What about a mother of a child who commited murder? she can still love him but, can she forgive him?
  8. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    I am also a child of holocaust survivors. My family is eastern European, and in my case the holocaust was that of Joseph Stalin, who enslaved, tortured and murdered 30 million, whom he had labelled "enemies of the people." Most of the relatives I had on both sides of my family (those who did not flee to the west during WW2) were hauled off to Siberia, where they starved to death or died from exposure, doing slave labor on behalf of the "proletariat state" of the Soviet Union. My great aunt and her daughter (who was 13) spent 20 years in Siberia, until they found a way to escape and get home.

    Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pat, Mao, Kim Jong-ill, the current rulers of Myanmar... the list of megalomaniacal sociopath heads of state goes on and on. Sometimes it seems like we haven't evolved much at all. Human cruelty continues to be an ongoing nightmare for many who reside on earth: all the girls and young women sold into sex slavery, all those enslaved in sweat shops, all the children chained to looms making "exotic" carpets for retail America, all the prisoners of conscience who are locked up for speaking the truth. And let's not forget the animal kingdom, which has suffered so enormously from the hand of human cruelty.

    Acceptance of the ugly truth of evil is definitely hard to wrap one's brain around. All you can do is say no to it in every way, in every place that you see it, and love and support those who are doing whatever they can to make a difference.
  9. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    I think it lies in the ability to distinguish between a person and a person's behaviour.
  10. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Do you realistically think that this is possible to do?
    Take the example of a cheating husband. You are married to a man who you feel "unconditional love" with. You have been married for 30 years. You have 4 children together and you trust him with your life until you suddenly find out that he has been living a lie. He has been cheating on you for the past 10 years. He has lied, lived a double life and hurt and harmed you to the core.
    Do you still love him? Can you distinguish the man from his behavior?
  11. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    I think it's possible, and without it, we lose something of our humanity in the face of violence. The fact that the Dalai Lama can love and forgive, however, doesn't mean he still lives in Tibet.
  12. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Well, this is exactly what happened to me - except that we have 6 children. I would say that if it was ever really love, then the love remains. That's part of the pain of it. The trust is shattered, the relationship is shattered. But the love just is.
  13. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Wow, Madie - sorry! I had no idea. I was just bringing on a hypothetical question. I guess there are many women who find themselves in this position. How awful!!!!! What strength of character you show.

    I had to read this a few times but, I get it. (I think) You can still continue to have love for someone that you have loved for so long even if by an act of theirs, they betrayed your trust.

    Probably, similarly children of abusive parents will still love that parent even though they harbor anger, resentfulness and shame.

    So I guess in these cases you could separate the person from their behavior.
  14. Nielk

    Nielk

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    I have always had a problem about this aspect of the Dalai Lama. I am not a Buddhist but have a lot of respect for their philosophy and for the Dalai Lama. Except for this one action. How can a leader of a people accept and forgive the Chinese for massacring his own people. He has been expelled and I can understand being on a high spiritual level that you can forgive that action but, to see his people, women and children being killed and accepting and forgiving that, I can't understand.
    Maybe, some Buddhists here can enlighten me.
  15. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Buddhists don't believe that we stand before God at the end of this life, to be judged for unforgiven acts. In the Buddhist worldview, you create your own next life through your actions in this one - sort-of instant retribution, if you will. So comparing the motivation for forgiveness in your 2 stories, Nielk, with the motivation for forgiveness for the Dalai Lama, is like comparing apples to oranges.

    As I understand it, the rabbi understood forgiveness for the beating to be properly God's work, not his. The circumstances were not such that he could absolve these people of their actions. A Buddhist only hurts himself by holding anger/hurt etc in his heart against another person; it creates karma. Buddhists forgive as a practice of leaving others to reap the consequences of their actions, while releasing all negative emotions that would create negative karma for the practitioner.

    The Dalai Lama has commented that forgiveness is in fact a selfish act. From the Buddhist perspective, this is true.
  16. Nielk

    Nielk

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    This was my thinking but, I didn't want to be disrespectful. You are right, if you don't believe that there is a God who is the "Super judge" and the only one who can grant true forgiveness in many cases, the whole picture changes.

    I can understand people not believing in a God. It's a belief after all and everyone has a different perspective, philosophy about the world and how it functions.
    What I can't understand is the Dalai Lama who is on a very high level of sensitivity. Who lives a beautiful life on a high spiritual level, even if he knows that it will benefit himself, being able in his deepest heart to forgive murderers of his people. I guess one would have to be a Buddhist to truly understand this. He is taking a chance that his people down the line will be extinct. I read a book a while back called "The Jew in the Lotus" by Rodger Kamenetz which is a book describing the experience of a group of Jewish leaders going to India at the Dalai Lama's request to have a discussion with him. The Dalia Lama wanted to find out the "secret" of the Jewish people - how they were able to survive as a nation/religion in spite of being constantly persecuted. It was a very interesting book to read but, obviously this is a concern of the Dalia Lama - the survival of his people.
  17. Nielk

    Nielk

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    I think there is a difference between letting go of resentment and actual forgiveness. The first helps the victim, the latter helps the offender.
    How can you forgive someone who has wronged you if they do not feel repentant and do not ask for forgiveness? If they do not feel repentant, they will not change their way.
    If you are talking about letting go of the resentment - purging it from your soul, that is a different act. It will benefit you but not the offender and therefore I don't consider that true forgiveness. True forgiveness, as I understand it, is if the offender is genuinely sorry for their action and they make the decision not to repeat this offense, you can then forgive them with a full heart. If they don't show remorse, how can you forgive them? Maybe you can choose to forget and not dwell on it or work out the pain within yourself but this is not true forgiveness.
  18. Nielk

    Nielk

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    This is the headline of an upcoming event in NY which sounds really interesting but, I won't be able to attend.
    I just wanted to post it here so that maybe we can discuss these topics.

    "
    I especially wanted to discuss:
    By trauma here, I would like to entertain the fact of being ill with ME/CFS as a traumatic event, shared by all here.
    Some of us, (me included) have voiced the fact that since turning ill, we feel that we have become more spiritual. I never thought of it as a defense or coping strategy, but now that I see it questioned here, I wonder if there is not some truth to it.
    Even if it is a coping strategy, it might not be a bad thing. I thought that my suffering was elevating me to higher spiritual pursuits but, maybe it's just a selfish thought that helps me cope with the pain by trying to elevate myself to a higher meaning in life.

    What do you think?
  19. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    What has helped me let go of resentment in my life is the realization that I was not responsible, or to blame for the hurt that others caused me. Many victims, (this is especially true of abused children), will blame themselves for the actions of the perpetrators. They try to "figure out" why this other human being, often a person that they loved and trusted with their heart, and counted on to be of good will, behaved so unkindly towards them. They run the "if only" list in their heads over and over--"if only" I had done this, said this, been more (fill in the blank)... then they/he/she would have been more loving towards me. When the truth is that absolutely nothing they did, or could have done differently, would have changed the other person's behavior towards them.

    I had a big reality check which confirmed this back in 1997, when my ex-boyfriend who I hadn't seen for 15 years showed up in town and wanted to get together with me. He was a very self-centered person, often sullen, negative, critical, very unempathetic, an officially diagnosed narcissist, who had cheated on me repeatedly with women I knew and had even crawled off to cheat on me the day after I was struck by lightning, in 1979. And now here he was, pretending like we were old friends and everything was just fine between us. When I let him know that this was absolutely not the case, and told him I had no interest in ANY further contact, he began to hem and how how "unforgiving" I was. This made me laugh, and I hung up on him. A day later, he called me back with a very different tone of voice. He said he wanted to apologize for how he had treated me during our relationship. He admitted that he had been "such an asshole" (his words) towards me, that he was ashamed of himself for it. He told me that he had never been able to have a decent relationship with anyone, because of his "issues," and his narcissism, which even many years of therapy had not helped him with. He accepted responsibility for the problems he caused in our relationship, and he told me that he was surprised that I put up with him as long as I did--which was 4 very long years! And then he said these words: "The way I behaved was all about me and my shit. You did not deserve any of it." These are the most powerful words I ever heard from someone who had behaved abusively towards me, and they ring loudly of the truth for all of those who have been in abusive relationships.

    This encounter was definitely a gift... a rare gift, from the most unlikely place I could have ever imagined! I had already let go of most of the resentment I had felt for this guy even before he had showed up in town. But I hadn't completely let go of blaming myself for some of his past behavior towards me. After this, it began to sink in that most, if not all, of other people's actions are a reflection of who THEY are, and have little to do with me. This has helped me with accepting reality, and that acceptance makes life much easier to bear.

    In general I opt for acceptance over forgiveness. I focus on accepting that the "hurter" is not capable of love, or loyalty, or kindness, or self-reflection, because they have not gotten to that place of inner development yet, and then I let go of the hope that they ever will.
    Nielk likes this.
  20. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    I understand. :Retro smile: Really. :cool::cool:

    Your emphasis, as I understood it, had to do with taking responsibility for, and letting go of, feelings of blame towards the hurter--the abusive person. I wanted to share the flip side of that experience, which is about letting go of the blame victims often may take on and feel towards themselves.

    It's all about the inner process, and what part of it we need to address in order to move beyond our pain.

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