“If it is one man’s karma to suffer, isn’t it our dharma (duty) to help ease his suffering and pain?” Sri Mata Amritananda-mayi Ma
“Life is suffering” says the Buddha. What can seemingly be a very grim outlook on life only seems that way because we cannot wrap our minds around the process of overcoming the suffering.
The realm of suffering is vast. Whether we bump into the coffee table in the middle of the night or we lose a dear friend or family member, suffering is experienced in small doses or massive amounts. One can say that suffering is an axiomatic truth undeniably linked to human existence. How does one go about finding solace or refuge from a world that is a sure-fire playground for inevitable disappointments? Retreating behind a shroud of illusion into the land of fantasy and delusion is an attractive choice during our lowest moments. But this cannot be. In the ancient Taittiriya Upanishadic texts, it is said that human birth is the highest birth to attain because the physical form is microcosmic of the entire universe. And in this microcosm, we contain the very substance of creation, and in this way, we carry infinite potential.
Though we are destined for nothing less than greatness, it is inevitable that life will have its rollercoaster of emotions that play out due to the vast array of circumstances that come ￼ and go. In the best of times and the worst of times, mankind can always practice helping each other find more C.O.M.F.O.R.T (C.ompassionate O.fferings M.ade F.or O.ne’s R.elief/T.ransmutation). The Indian Hugging Saint, Sri Mata Amritananada-mayi Ma, a modern day humanitarian, poses this question daily: “If it is one man’s karma to suffer, isn’t it our dharma (duty) to help ease his suffering and pain?” This simple, yet profound conviction has guided her life on a path of self-less service as she compassionately offers care for all beings. In one fell swoop, she opens her arms with her empowering embrace and like a sponge removes the unpleasant trivialities of our day to day.
The Dalai Lama emphasizes that compassion is the common denominator of all religions. Across the board in all major world religions, we can find such countless examples of compassion. In the bible, God tells the Jews upon entering Egypt, “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:33). In the Jewish tradition, Tiferet (compassion) balances Chesed (kindness) and Gevura (restrictive severity) “to balance each other so that God’s benevolence can be absorbed by the limited world without ceasing to exist” (Moshe Miller). In the Qur’an, all 114 chapters except one begin with the phrase “Allah is merciful and compassionate,” to remind Muslims to treat everyone as themselves. Despite differences in tradition, culture and forms of worship, comforting another fellow human being is blueprinted into our DNA because we were designed for nothing less than finding our way back towards union… towards grace.