Because most of us are deeply insecure due to the environment we grew up in, we are hesitant to challenge ourselves in our weakest areas. We long for a world that is more kind, more accepting and more deeply connected yet are afraid to do the work needed to become deeper, more fulfilled and less obsessed with lack and the need to be right.
In my life, I have found that the very best teachers challenge us in a way that is difficult to explain yet addresses exactly this. They are catalysts and just being around them creates an energetic change within us that opens new pathways for our lives. This energetic change is usually painful, exhausting, embarrassing and motivating. And when we are asked “what happened?”, we do not know how to explain it. Something has occurred in the abstract area of ourselves, the untouchable region, the emotional understanding and the realm of perception.
At this point, I can feel when this type of change is occurring within me and I welcome it. I have allowed myself to become more curious about what will occur in the following days, weeks and years of experiencing such a shift. And I am never disappointed.
Recently I finished a weekend of intense qigong training with Master Ou Wen Wei, the creator of a highly effective qigong form called Pangu Shengong. This qigong form has improved many diseases and dysfunctions. I have been practicing it diligently for 6 years and it is remarkable how much it has enhanced and improved my health, relationships, and attitude. Because of the effects I experienced, I became an instructor of this qigong form and I have watched it enhance and improve others lives as well.
While studying with Master Ou this time, something occurred to me. Master Ou doesn’t speak English. He speaks Cantonese. His daughter, Olivia, does all of the translating. In a general sense, he is still teaching universal truths like love and kindness, but the way he teaches it is different. His angle is different and he genuinely challenges my perception of love. Upon first reading this you may think that you understand what that means. But I promise you, especially if you grew up in American society, you do not. American culture is obsessed with approval, status, wealth and competition. We are young in terms of our development as a culture. Often, we are greedy and arrogant and dangerously in denial of just how selfish we are.
I feel very fortunate to be a citizen of the United States but I’m also fully able to see our flaws. Our culture focuses on individual gain, profit, and success. We strive to be number one no matter the cost. We are taught that this is the best way to be. And on the flip side of that, we embrace martyrdom in an unhealthy way. We think that to be selfless literally means to abandon ourselves instead of learning how to care for ourselves WHILE we care for others. Even the martyrdom itself becomes narcissistic.
Learning from a man who grew up dirt poor in China, a communist environment where belief in God was illegal is at the opposite end of the spectrum regarding cultural flavor and experience. Furthermore, since he had his own life-changing experience with God, his knowledge of God’s existence ONLY comes from HIS experience, not from a book or dogma forced upon him in his formative years. This creates a very unique perspective.
When Master Ou teaches about spirituality, he teaches about how to take care of humanity as a whole. He teaches about understanding behavior in terms of what will be beneficial to EVERYONE. He teaches with the entire population of our planet in mind (in addition to the planet itself.) No teaching, no advice deviates from this fundamental platform.
For me, his unique perspective is gold. I grew up in a broken home and was severely abused in my early years of life which created a very selfish mindset. Suffering and pain are selfish because they exist in an obsessive state. They are all consuming. I understand that this mindset was developed out of necessity to protect myself and I have accepted that. Nevertheless, it developed and it needed to be addressed. Because of this, listening to Master Ou speak and watching how he cares for others and himself in balance has been imperative for my growth as a human being.
We all need to step out of our personal religious or spiritual structure, our friend structure, our familial structure, our job structure and explore other spiritual understandings and other social understandings to further develop our ability to have depth, compassion, and connection (even if we don’t agree with everything being taught).
We have much to learn in order to become a truly loving and accepting society. We have so much to transform in terms of perception in order to become less self-involved in an unhealthy fashion. We must start looking at life through the lens of “What is healthy for the WHOLE of humanity, as well as our individual selves.”
If we do not start exploring how to accomplish this within ourselves we will never have the harmonious world we desire. We must accept that it is suffering that is causing more suffering. And it is suffering that we are collectively in resistance to addressing. And then we must ask, why?
My opinion is that suffering is such torture that most everyone wants to ignore its existence. And on a global scale, it feels too massive to make a dent in it. But that is the brilliance too. The only suffering you can have any control of is your own. But the catch is that often the way you make a dent in your own is to be willing to make a dent in others as well. And the only way to make a dent in others is to deeply love them, have profound compassion for them and be willing to feel their suffering with them in order for them to feel loved, validated and valued. Only then can a safe environment emerge between people.
We must consider that each person we interact with represents some portion of ourselves. Therefore, we must be able to pay attention to our response to each person. We must be willing to entertain that this is a true statement and reflect on what that means. Because when we take full accountability for the reality of that concept, we can no longer engage in any type of behavior that brings harm to someone else, even if that person is the cruelest person on earth.
We must recognize that all suffering comes from suffering and only profound kindness can transform it. We must eliminate our desire for punishment, and adopt a desire for rehabilitation. We must deeply consider that behavior modification is total bullshit and the way things look from the outside is the least important aspect to be concerned with.
We must realize that this is true for ourselves as well. We must realize that only profound self-love and compassion will change our own inner world, our own damaged aspects. We must stop trying to hush our pain and instead focus on rehabilitating our pain. It is only with this mindset that we can be successful in transforming our world into a safe, loving, accepting and inviting place. I believe that these are the stepping stones to creating a beautiful and harmonious world and it is time for us to dedicate ourselves to this purpose collectively, honestly and totally. All of life is calling us to act and engage and it seems that our survival is literally dependent on our success.