Article by Simon Fox.
Love by Czeslaw Miloz
Love means to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one among many.
And whoever sees that way, heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills –
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.
Through the experience of volunteering with Adventures in Caring, in addition to gaining life skills, volunteers also make – usually without knowing it – some profound spiritual progress.
For example, the Raggedy training weekend is a true rite of passage. It has all the ingredients and hallmarks of such a transformative event in a person’s life – and it produces the results that rites of passage are designed to bring about.
Volunteers are also introduced, again without knowing it, to a profound, rapid, and safe way to transform their lives for the better. Hindus would describe it as a combination of karma yoga and bhakti yoga. This is the yoga of charity, done from the heart. Regardless of one’s faith, setting the ego aside to be of service to others who are suffering, and doing it with great love, is the surest way to travel on the spiritual path.
With such transformative thrust behind us, definite changes occur. What at first seems subtle, becomes obvious. The hints of tiny facial muscles, the shades of meaning in the tone of voice, the pregnant silences filled with questions. These become so loud that people seem to be shouting a declaration of themselves from the mountaintops with every breath. Their state of mind, their hopes and dreams and insecurities, are laid out plainly for all to see – if they have the eyes to see.
Going further, some volunteers begin to become aware of other forces at work – something far greater than themselves. To some, it appears as though a gentle, peaceful presence descends upon them, calming the mind and bringing a deep joy to the heart. Some see it as an all-pervading light bathing everyone in peace. Others feel it as a sudden breath of fresh air that energizes and uplifts them. And some sense it as loving-kindness more beautiful and fragrant than anything they have ever imagined.
To all, it is nonphysical, not originating in any personality. It is vastly bigger, wiser, and more loving than any of us, so we gradually begin to learn how to let it work through us. This “it” we are referring to is the “it” of The Emerald Tablet. And if we consider that “it” has the capacity to perform work – since people are set at ease, hearts open, healthier choices are made, lives change for the better, and miracles happen in “its” presence – then we can correctly call it: energy.
Here begins the work of the alchemist, who learns to transform pain by leaning into it, heart first.
When we have become accustomed to being around this energy of unselfish love, and our egos have gotten used to the idea of a far greater force than itself being present in our lives, we gradually become more transparent to this love, and it flows through us more easily. Then, when we get close enough to embrace the pain, this loving energy can flow through us and literally touch the dis-ease. And in doing so, transform it. This is the alchemy of compassion.
“Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become Love. That is the mystery.” – Katherine Mansfield.