There is no greater suffering, there are no greater suffers than those who have survived Childhood Sexual Abuse. For those of you who are not familiar with Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh). He is teacher, student and lesson but that is zen. He is master and follower; he is Buddhist and Christ like.
In tho article Thay describes the transformation of suffering not ignoring it but through extending compassion and ways to nurture happiness in spite of unbearable unspeakable pain the process of transformation occurs. . In this particular article he goes so far as to point out the ways in which much of the suffering due to Childhood Sexual Abuse can be assessed in school children and the healing can begin, if the adults were only more perceptive more mindful and compassionate. This recognition of early detection and healing reflects Thay's deep understand of the issue of Childhood Sexual abuse. He has a deep insight into this suffering nd a practice for identifying and relieving it. .
The zen way of nurturing happiness while not ignoring suffering is a matter of living a practice for all. We all have suffering as well as happiness to try to maintain a constant state of happiness is the obsession of so many in today's western culture, and it is damaging to individuals and societies.
We all suffer that is what life is about this is a teaching of the Buddha. It is a part of the Buddha's enlightenment. It is one of the four Noble Truths "Life is Suffereing."
Engaged zen is a practice that allows us to live life realistically as human beings without resorting to the old and fading concept that dominates western psychology the teaching of mechanisms of repression. This creates a society in which people can do unsatisfying work very well and then enjoy the excesses on the weekends offered by the cognitive way. But are these people really human are they really alive. It also creates violence for repressed emotions wither joy or suffering will ester if they are not acknowledged and taken care of through mindfulness and insight and compassion toward self. The failure to acknowledge suffering through compassionate understanding of self and other generates everything from road rage, to police brutality, to mass shootings. These are endemic to modern American society. We are not nurturing our happiness. We try to purchase it in order to alleviate our suffering We repress that which is unpleasant rather than acknowledging sitting and understanding through compassion extended to ourselves and others. It is not a mater of charity once in a awhile of tithing 10% it is a way of living a way of inter being Jesus My Lord described it in the sermon on the mount and most explicitly with the advantages and dangers associated with living this way of life or ignoring it in Matt 25:31-46. These scripture are not merely theology nor theory for the Christian they the Christian way of life. They are The Way. And Thay a Buddhist, a zen master provides a practice for living a Christ like life. A life that will transform suffering nurture happiness recognize our interbeing witheach other and our planet, It is a practice of loving one another.
And it is a practice that will heal suffering even the deepest and sever that of Childhood Sexual abuse.
With Thay we are not invited to ignore and repress suffering or to feign a constant state of happiness as the world does, particularly the western world and particularly the Untied States of America. But to transform suffering as a part of life and transform it through compassionate engagement with ourselves and others. Engaged zen is constructivist. It is holistic in a way that cognitivism cn never be. It contributes to wholeness of individuals and humanity It is steeped in a holistic identification with and honoring the whole person as well as all of humanity.
The five practices for nurturing happiness are:
- Letting go
- Inviting Positive seeds
- Mindfulness Based Joy
We do not just force painful experiences away by letting go of them, by getting over them, or ignoring them in favor of positive seeds.
There is much that is positive everyday and the practice of mindfulness will insure that we see and experience or water these seeds of happiness in everyday life. They are as simple as the smile from a friend or stranger, the rain, or a flower or a walk in the coolness of the evening.
They do not involve the attainment of material positions, although in some cases these to can bring joy and happiness to be mindful of as well as their ephemeral nature.
Mindfulness involves compassion and seeing the joy where it exists. even mindfully sitting with friend who is in pain can mindfully be transformed into the joy of co-pasion, And along with it the knowledge that we inter are and co-dependence.
Even the recognition and the sitting still with our pain -- cooking our potatoes -- can be a joy filled experience if we are mindful of the fact that underneath the pain which is met with compassion is not just healing but a self capable of enduring unspeakable pain, atrocities. In recognizing this pain and anger with compassion for ourselves, that will eventually extend to others.
To merely focus on the pain without the recognition of the inner joy of compassion is not healing but a recognition of only darkness. Darkness is there and must be acknowledged, but so is the light of the compassionate self. Compassion is there in mindfulness waiting and sitting, Compassion for self and others.
This practice even sitting with our pain is fullness The process is being fully human. It is not just moving forward with the pain that would not be mindful. To be mindful is to acknowledge the suffering without ignoring the seeds that are positive. The pain cannot be healed without water the seeds of joy as well. One cannot heal one without the other. One be human by ignoring and repressing reality -- the reality of suffering. One cannot heal if suffering and compasion do not meet and embrace.
Concentration is the companion of mindfulness. Their companionship with ourselves allows us to get through each day feeling the suffering yet being mindful of the joy and happiness and focusing on the work or relaxation we are doing. Concentration and mindfulness are the counter point to the immense suffering of the survivor who is constantly controlled by the judgmental self. The judgmental self does not believe him/herself worthy of anything good that includes satisfying employment, relaxation and of course joy and happiness. Judgment will constantly remind we survivors of our undeserving nature. These create e phenomena that affects 1 in 6 men and 1 in 3 men who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The phenomena is settling for less it is under earning and underling. If a person i s mindful themselves and insightful they can observe us with relative lttle practice. Who is the person you know at the office who is under living and under earning?
Insight is healing and the result of these practices that allows us to move forward in healing and thus be fully available and effective in healing others. Without insight, if the entire practice were only four steps it could be used as a form of cognitive repression and a cause of mental illness not a practice for healing and wholeness for the individual and the world. Insight allows the privilege of joining in the healing of others. .Insight is healing.
The 5 practices remind me of the Juanita Ryan's method for healing from trauma. Her practice incorporates all of Thay's five principles of nurturing happiness.
- of the wounded self
- the judgmental self
- and the compassionate self
- Taking ownership of the\
- the wounded self
- the judgmental self
- and the compassionate self
- and finally integrating
- the wounded self
- the judgmental self
- and the compassionate self.
For me the healing process has lead to becoming aware of the constant war within me of judgement and wounedness. Judgement keeps woundedness at bay. Judgment is in charge most of the time, and wins most of the time.
The only problem is that once judgment has won once judgement has crushed woundedness the wounded self takes over. The wounded self seeks love and affection. Love and affection when extended to woundedness and judgement along the way using the methods expressed within Thay's five principles summons the compassionate self, however without the compassionate self woundedness having been crushed by unrelenting judgement will be summoned to seek love the way it at that a very deep level and early age were conditioned to seek these. As a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse the wounded self seeks love and affection through sexual objectification. Woundedness was conditioned to seek these things at a very deep level through objectifying the self to acheive them. But beneath woundedness there exists the compasionae self whole and intact. The perpatraors could not crush or destroy the compassionate self made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. . When the inner deep compassionate self extends compasion to woundedness and judgement he/she accpts love as it comes not within the corrupted conditiong of the wounded self.
The wounded self will seek love and approval the antidote to judgment through sexual objectification, because this is the way woundedness was conditioned was taught by the perpetrators since early childhood was the only way to receive these to seek these thigs beceause that is the way the only way woundedness was assured of getting love accpetance an end to lonliness and betraly and an end to suffering. As a child our senses of self worth and autonomy are taught to us by our parents and extended family. We taught that we are worthy when we please the adults in our life. The way the sexually abused child was taught to be worthy was by pleasing the adults in their lives sexually, by being used by the adults as a sexual object. I have self-worth if I am doing what grandpa wants -- allowing him to sodomize me. I have self worth if I am pleasing mommy by letting her control and stimulate my body beyond the point of releases, because there is no release for a child, to a place of harmful hideous pain It is painful physically and emotionally for me, but I can see her satisfaction -- I am worthy. This abuse takes the place of what should have been the loving nurturing of a mother.
The wounded self was conditioned to end the suffering through sexually objectification and he/she will seek it at all cost.
The cost of childhood sexual abuse is suffering combined with self worth. The fear, pain and self loathing that are the real results of childhood sexual abuse drive self judgement to keep woundedness at bay. Thus a split occurs there is the judgmental self and the woundeded self. They hate each other and are constantly at war with each other until one more time woundedness wins. When oundendedness wins it seeks with a single mindness love and affection through sexual objectification and receives instead lose and self loathing. Woundendness reaps judgement. This destructive process is repeated over and over again to understand and to seek compassion from others.
The work that leads to healing is not to ignore nor deny the spit the war between judgment and woundeness, but to let the compassionate self emerge, to summon the compassionate self.
The compassionate self is capable of bringing a cease fire in the war between judgment and woundedness prior to annihilation. Compassion stops judgment in its tracks and brings to woundeness a different conclusion The conclusion is that woundedness is already loved worthy and whole. When woundensss takes control but get what it seeks in a manner other then sexual objectification and annihilation by practicing the principles laid out by Juanita and Thay principles compasioin heals judgement and woundeness out of existence. This is integration. The survivor is left with the true self still buried intact under it all. Whenever I compare the destruction of abortion with the destruction of Childhood Sexual Abuse I make the point that they ae eqaully dsetructive one abortion murders a child in and now sometimes outside fo the womb,m while Childhood Sexual abuse buries the child alive. The compassionate self the true self the one fashioned by God in His image and likenesses is buried underneath the warring parts of judgement and woundendess the slef hatred they have for each other their self destruction and annihilation which also is destructive to the the true compassionate self with it. Healing is a matter of compassion clawing its way out of the coffin and digging up through the six feet of dirt plied on him/her by the perpetrators. This takes time and commitment.
Great healers are great warriors and gifts from God. I am grateful to both Thay and Juanita. The Buddhist and the Christian. They understand, because each has had to face suffering and has merged whole. I am grateful for their insight into suffering suffering and insight. and their willingness to speak the truth to others. and to provide practices that are practical methods for healing that honor the suffering the unbearable pain and the joys in life.
Get real and heal.
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