Nisargadatta, a well-known non-dual teacher, used this metaphor: “The world is made of rings. The hooks are all yours. Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you.”
Being a mother is a big hook for me. When life is difficult for my son–and because he suffers from chronic pain, his life is often difficult–I still apparently make hooks. The straightening occurs more quickly than before, but each hook is still filled with suffering–until I notice it. It’s the suffering that is the clue-in-my-face that I’ve gotten caught. Again.
In the past, when I plunged into suffering I would build huge stories, and spend my nights chewing on a future I cannot possibly envision or change. I would bemoan the past, wishing I had somehow acted differently. At least now, when I notice the suffering, I’m more able to set it down. I know that messing with suffering is like bouncing on a trampoline–the more energy put into it, the bigger the response.
The teachings say, “Don’t touch it.” Watch the hook arise, and allow it to dissolve without grabbing on, without hooking the ring.
Some people ask, if we don’t dive into the suffering, isn’t there a loss of compassion or engagement? No. Compassion can flow more easily and directly when we aren’t caught up in the emotional stickiness. Only then, can involvement be natural, and helpful.
© Amrita Skye Blaine