We have indeed, as Colin says, been bruised, and our task is to find our way to healing. In service of such healing, I appreciate Colin’s sharing of this Buddhist approach to life. You can read his full post on his blog, Tadpole Journeys, and I thank him for letting me share the heart of it here.
by Colin Berg, Redmond, Washington
It’s been a bruising year. When we’re bruised, it’s sometimes hard to see, feel, and live beyond that condition. Especially when there’s an endless stream of events that keep reinforcing the injuries, that keep piling on the offenses, that keep re-bruising the bruises.
Gradually, our world closes around the bruise until we can see little else, until we become little else. It’s a little like when we spend hours in front of a computer screen or focused on some other kind of detailed work without looking up. We develop a kind of myopia that only lifts when we go outside and change our line of sight to a distant horizon.
So, how do we break the bruising cycle and change our line of sight? How do we step outside the pattern? And how do we see what’s going on in front of us without losing sight of the spaciousness at the heart of all of us?
I got a glimpse of this possibility while on a recent Zoom call with a small group of friends. We were going to do a meditation in advance of the presidential inauguration. As I got ready to log on, I realized how ambivalent I felt. I was looking forward to being with my friends, but I was also feeling overwhelmed and battered by everything that had been happening in the news.
I was bruised.
As we began the meditation, the two members of our group who were leading the session asked us to open to the Ground Luminosity. On one level, this sounds like opening to the light, the soul, the goodness in everything. That can be a comforting and enlightening experience. It can also be an invitation to gloss over a lot of darkness, pain, and injury; a self-deluding exercise in looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. But Ground Luminosity is different from simple “looking on the bright side,” or “seeing the light in everyone you meet.”
The difference is the word “ground.” Ground Luminosity is a principle in Tibetan Buddhism that refers to the radiant essence underlying all of life. It is the virgin substance from which all creation is made. My friends’ invitation to “open to the Ground Luminosity” was not a call to look past the surface bruising in order to imagine a brighter, heavenly state somewhere else. It was a reminder to look through the bruising into the radiant essence that’s right here and everywhere, right now and always. I accepted that invitation.
The first response was a release of deep tension, and then a powerful sense of connection—with everyone and everything. I could still see all the conflicts, the adversarial arguments, angers and bruises, but under it all I could see and feel a deep and unwavering connection.
I could see hope.
Despite the vitriol in the public discourse, despite the abandonment of truth and facts by both leaders and followers and the growing animus flowing from that, I could see and feel the Ground Luminosity pulsing up through all of us. That restored my faith in our ability to weather this storm, to heal these bruises, and to live into a brighter day.
The difference was the recognition that at the most elemental level, we are connected not separate. We are not called to a battle of adversaries. We’re called to remember our shared essence, and our essence is a deeply interwoven fabric.