photo from Elephant Nature Park
The following quote, from Frank Ostaseski, (of Metta Institute), reaches and touches this delicate subject at the truest and deepest levels...
“You see, at the very heart of service we understand that
the act of caring is always mutually beneficial. We
understand that in nurturing others we are always caring
for ourselves, and this understanding fundamentally shifts
the way we provide care. .."Compassion," when literally translated means "suffering with others" and "with'" is the most important word, because it implies
belonging. "Companion” is "one who travels with another."
So in this relationship there is no guide, there is no healer
and no one healed; we simply accompany one another.
And as my friend Reb
walking through birth and death holding hands."
If we are paying attention as we walk into the room of
someone dying, we immediately understand, in a visceral
way, just how precarious this life is. As we understand
that, we also come to see how precious it is. When we
keep death close at hand, we become less compulsive
about our desires, we take ourselves and our ideas a little
less seriously, and we let go more easily. We become
more open to generosity and to love. Paradoxically,
working with the dying will make us kinder to one
another. In the face of death everything we normally
identify with ourselves will either be stripped away by
illness or given up gracefully – but it all goes. "I'm a
father, I'm a mother, I'm a hospice worker" – whatever our
notion about our identity, it will go.
Helping incurs debt. When you help someone, they owe
you. But service is mutual. When I help I have a feeling of
satisfaction, but when I serve I have a feeling of gratitude.
Serving is also different to fixing. We fix broken pipes,
we don't fix people. When I set about fixing another
person, it's because I see them as broken. Fixing is a form
of judgment that separates us from one another; it creates
a distance. So fundamentally, helping, fixing and serving are ways of
seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak; when
you fix, you see life as broken; and when you serve, you
see life as whole. When we serve in this way, we
understand that this person's suffering is also my
suffering, that their joy is also my joy and then the
impulse to serve arises naturally -- our natural wisdom and
compassion presents itself quite simply. A server knows
that they're being used and has the willingness to be …When we serve, we are always in the service of wholeness. Caring for those who are suffering, whether or not they are dying, wakes us up. It opens up our hearts and our
minds. It opens us up to the experience of this wholeness
that I speak of. More often than not, though, we are caught
in the habitual roles and ideas that keep us separate from
each other. Lost in some reactive mind state, busy trying
to protect our self-image, we cut ourselves off and isolate
ourselves from that which would really serve and inform
our work. To be people who heal, we have to be willing to
bring our passion to the bedside; our own wounds, our
fear, our full selves. Yes, it is the exploration of our own
suffering that forms a bridge to the person we're serving.”
May we continue to serve with our own wholeness and brokenness. May we always understand and hold the integrity of service and sharing at the core of our work. May we always explore within and without...believing in the path of transcendence and transformation.