Taproot Healing Institute Taproot Healing Institute


Only Love is Real - Taproot Healing Institute


“To become masters of Love, we have to practice Love.”

~ Don Miguel Ruiz


You Can’t Turn Off the Darkness,
But You Can Turn on the Light
© Tarasa B. Lovick, MS

Our Reiki students often ask “What should we do about war or famine across the world, if anything? Do we have a responsibility for healing the pain in the world?” There are two different issues here, the nurturing of compassion, and the responsibility to do what we can to work toward healing suffering with non-attachment. Our lives are interwoven with each other; we are all connected. Have you ever been in a space in which someone smokes? The smell and smoke permeates the entire space. Do you think second hand pain is any less potent?

Across the world people live with war and poverty of all kinds. It is easy to be complacent and consider another’s suffering as karmic or conjure up another reason why you are not a part of the suffering, “Their suffering is not mine,” you may think. There are a number of related issues to explore as we continue to contemplate compassion.

First, "their pain." What leads us to this illusory space of separation? I am not condemning you for that thought. Remember thoughts are neutral; they simply are. However it might be useful to explore how this thought grows, because making choices from fear manifest a different result and the sense of separation can dictate your choices.
Separation grows out of fear, fear that you may be hurt, or that your needs won't be met. You must first understand that there is nothing "bad" about such fear. It arises because of conditions, among those being the perceived threat and a sense of self. The threat may be real. Perhaps someone does wish to harm you or to take something from you. Seeing this, fear arises. The fear often leads you to want to retaliate against the catalyst for the fear. You move into anger, grasping. When there are such mind states present it feels like "me" against "them." Yes, of course you feel separation.

When you bring awareness to the way that sense of separation arises, you begin to find more space. You notice there is a point of decision when the heart closes and the illusion of separation becomes solid. You begin to notice not just the anger or grasping but the fear behind it.

Between when you see that fear and before the movement to anger, if you are aware you may notice the heart closing, the armor pulled across to shield you from pain. To notice takes courage and a willingness to move away from the seeming safety of negative repetitive patterns. At that moment, if you can allow even a small bit of loving acceptance for yourself, for this being who feels fear, into your heart, if you can notice any judgment of "I shouldn't feel afraid," or "I shouldn't feel anger," then it becomes possible for you to enter into freedom.

As you allow in a bit of compassion for yourself and acceptance for this being in pain, you allow the possibility of compassion for the individual or a situation that caused you to be afraid. You begin the formation of a new pattern where the arising of fear does not need to lead to anger or grasping but can be a reminder for compassion.

When the heart is open, even if only a pin head of light is visible, there is no need to flee into the illusion of separation. To allow your connection with all that is means to allow yourself to be vulnerable. From a place of connection, the softness of the heart reaching out to the world is open.

Of course you may not be able to maintain an open heart. If fear gets stronger, at some point the heart may close, the shield drawn back into place. Can you accept even that closing with compassion for yourself? When you do so, you leave space for the heart to reopen. You see separation as illusion needed for protection even as you move into it. Then we're back again to fear as a reminder for compassion.

Coming back to the question, when you are clear of this illusion of separation you know there is no such thing as "their pain." You see that label for what it is, the heart's desire to protect itself against pain that seems likely to overwhelm.

Something wonderful may happen as you see the movement with clarity and come back to unity, as the heart opens, you find space you never knew was there. Within this heart we all share, the infinite heart of mercy, is space for all pain. When you open your own heart, you open to the flow of that oneness. You may still have an occasional fear of being overwhelmed, but deep inside you develop the trust that it will not happen.
Your willingness to allow yourself to be vulnerable makes you far more invulnerable than girding yourself from your fear. Can you see that? You can pile on one layer of armor after another and pain will still creep through and threaten to overwhelm you.

How can there be healing? When you allow the pain to move through, when you acknowledge that pain is inescapable and you need not hide from it, that acceptance finally allows true compassion to emerge. Not "my pain" or "your pain" but the pain we all share, the pain of the universe and all that exists.

When you open to that, you also open to the light, the joy and beauty of the universe and all within it. They come together, pain and joy. You cannot close your heart to pain and remain open to joy.

Let's go on to karma. If you see another being suffering you may think, “Oh that person needs to go through that (whatever is causing the pain--you name it) to learn a lesson.” This makes it easy for you to turn your back on the suffering, after all it is not your responsibility because that individual or country has a lesson to learn. However, it IS your responsibility. Moreover, working to heal the suffering must be done without attachment. This is subtle, and it's hard.

Some of you work with people who are physically or emotionally impaired, who have serious problems of one sort or another. You have learned that no matter how hard you try, sometimes you can't help that person to make a change in their physical or mental condition. Does that mean that your effort is meaningless? Of course not. The meaning is beyond the physical plane.

Each of you have felt this at some time, when you've been with somebody that was negative and that negativity was palpable. It made you draw back. When you've been with somebody that's loving, you relax into that embrace of love. So perhaps you're not physically able to help a person, and yet, the love that comes from you in the sense of caring gives light to that person, to that person's experience, and to the whole universe. I have a friend who has a t-shirt that says, “You can’t turn off the darkness, but you can turn on the Light. (Ladd Matters)” Yes, you can turn on the light, the love.

It is not always given to you to see the direct results of your actions. Remember, among other lessons, you are here to learn faith and trust. Can you serve, allowing yourself to be a channel for love, and trust that this love does set people free?

You may be working with a person who's suffering terribly, and you cannot alleviate that suffering. If you become attached to doing that, saying "I MUST make them better," you create not only more suffering, but do you see the ego in that, "I must …"? Yes, perhaps as a physician or mental health counselor, you have the ability to direct them into healing, or physically with your hands to aid healing. Ultimately, each person must learn their life lessons individually.

This does not mean less caring and compassion, it is a full acceptance that you cannot heal another person. You bring your skills to bear and they must allow the healing to enter. You do the best that you can do. The results are less important than the love that is given. Often, that love that is given is enough to lead them to the healing they seek.
Now, let's take that to a world situation. A war. This is both individual and a group karma. There are beings who have chosen to incarnate into a violent society because they have something to learn. At some time in your many lives, all of you have lived amidst such violence. Several of you are saying "What about those from this society who are sent to a violent society?" At some level they have agreed to that, they also have something to learn by being part of that situation.

Those of you who are not an immediate part of that situation must learn to approach it in the same way as that being working with one who is ill. War is an illness. Perhaps you can help to heal the illness. In what ways can you help? In what ways can more love, light be given? In what ways can you add to freedom in the world?

Perhaps the best way that you can help is to find peace in your own heart. There can be no peace in the world while each of you is individually at war. So that is where we start. That doesn't mean that one must just sit and meditate or pray 24 hours in a day; there is enough time to go inward and to move outward.

Work simultaneously on many levels. Work on yourself to open your heart to compassion, create that inner peace. Work politically or through whatever ways are appropriate to you, to bring peace to the world. There is no separation. The world is within you and you are within the world.

Working at a battered women’s shelter in your own city may not seem immediately to relate to the situation in the middle east. Think how war comes about in the first place; what are the real issues in a war? You don't need to go half way around the world to find people who have great need. Often, those who receive have need of that in order to learn how to give of themselves. You have no idea where your giving will end up.

You are not your brother's and sister’s keeper, you are your brother and sister. Pain felt in any part of the world is felt in your own heart, and you can not escape that. Eventually you have to face the reality that there is no "my pain" or "your pain," simply pain.

You must practice to learn to respond lovingly to that pain, with non-attachment, accepting that personally you could not keep a child from the horror of loosing his father in war, accepting that it is an opportunity for him to learn something. At the same time, knowing that if you COULD have prevented that from happening, then it would be necessary for you to do so. Because, perhaps YOU were the one that was meant to reach out and aid him. Perhaps you still are.

As you do the inner work that enables you to move beyond separation you will begin to notice that skillful action does arise from an open heart prompted by deep inner wisdom. The open heart knows how to respond. Compassion grows from a place of clarity and love. When fear arises, you may greet it without judgment, invite it into the heart and explore it. In this way, you will find increasing capacity for compassionate and wise action.

Rev. Dr. Tarasa B. Lovick

No matter what the question, love is the answer.