Friday, November 5, 2010


In an earlier posting I discussed suffering as a focus of Buddhist practice. One need only refer to the Four Noble Truths as a foundational doctrine for practice. Yet there is another application of the concept of suffering to the development of insight and I believe it is more illuminating.

Ken Wilber explained in several of his works that as your insight develops and you move beyond the Witness, you begin to experience that the only thing that makes sense for you to do is to profoundly care about the suffering of others and help alleviate that suffering. You actually almost begin to tire of witnessing the endless display of mind objects and the insights accompanying them. There are only so many glorious sunsets, peak experiences, and profound glimpses of emptiness to move you, as odd as that may sound. instead, you find yourself developing a profound sense of compassion for others who "don't get it" and see them not as actors in their own roles but as a part of yourself, the big I, and almost feel the pain they are feeling. Your heart breaks for the suffering they are experiencing and you truly want to lessen that pain, and share your insights so that they too may grow beyond it.

This insight is far beyond mere human kindness. It is a measurement of your own experience of your true nature where you recognize how others suffer when they have forgotten or have never known their own. And you also experience in a very real sense, how in emptiness, their suffering is your own.