My heart is broken

It was on Saturday evening that I realized my heart was broken. Sounds like the first line of a novel.  It would be so easy to make this post fiction.  Instead of face the reality.  One so stark I’m not even sure as I write this where this post is going.

My heart is broken because there’s never going to be even the slightest inquiry into the “torture” – a depravity called by so many euphemisms, instead of its truthful name.  But even worse my heart is broken by the centuries and the thousands of centuries of equal inhumanity to man.  The punishment of so many innocents.  The going to war and justification of killing and torture and rape and pillage by so-called “virtues” as if using words could ever make this ok.  My heart is breaking, not just because of these particular tortures and wars, but also because I can look into myself and see the same potentials, the same anger, the same kinds of justifications within my own torn and divided heart.

My heart is broken because we’re never really going to get health care like we really need health care.   Health care for all – where the money goes for “care” and not for corporate welfare.  But even worse my broken heart cries out for the fact of ill health itself.  For sickness and disability and dying alone or unloved or on battlefields or other places of carnage, so different from medical settings where lives are valued to such extremes that the unwell are inflicted with “treatments” that make them suffer all the more.  It’s the pain of life leading to death and the path along that strewn with illness and suffering.  And the inability to ultimately alleviate these truths from my mind.

My heart is broken because national ideals and religious ideals are too often just words and pageantry.  Because greed is so rampant.  And because people have figured out ever better ways to disguise that and package products and ideals and sell them.  For riches.  For power.  And I can see those same pulls contending within my own heart – so I can’t cast stones or I’d have to cast them at myself.

I’m trying to rise above all this.  I think of the Buddha, raised in a comfortable palace, protected from all by enjoyment, ultimately shocked when he ventured out and saw sickness and death and suffering.  It wasn’t that he didn’t care to try and alleviate them.  But he saw them as the human condition and he set out to try and find release from the fears and the wishes that prompt our inner suffering, as well as from the negative feelings like anger or resentment or revenge which ravage the world around us when they are unleashed by you or me or those we oppose.  And then to save all beings through sharing that realization.

Jesus was murdered for trying to get people to care about each other.  I think of him now as the Man of the Broken Heart, the Man of Sorrows so many have called him.  A man who died for Love.  And I take comfort in sharing that Broken Heart.

There’s a line from one of the psalms that says “a heart broken and crushed, oh, God you will not spurn.”  I guess I’ve arrived there.  Andre Louf calls that a place of true humility.  A place where you admit your total powerlessness.  Your brokenness.  Failed ideals.  Failed efforts to live up to them yourself.  A place where you look around at the rubble of what you’ve tried to do and failed to do.   How all of us fail.

So I’m not looking for sympathy.  I hope you understand that.  There are no words of comfort that have not been said before.  For the Man of Sorrows, the Man of the Broken Heart, even the Buddha, they’ve been there too.  And the psalmist, the psalmist has been there.  A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) as TS Eliot describes it.  Followed by the comforting words of Julian of Norwich that “all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well” – but that is on a spiritual plane:  When the tongues of flame are infolded / Into the crowned knot of fire / And the fire and the rose are one. (whatever that means… it can’t be easy!)

Oh, yes, stilli… I know your sense of alienation…

9 thoughts on “My heart is broken

  1. It’s easy to feel lost, and to feel broken-hearted. With everything that’s happening, all the yelling and screaming, the fearmongering, people getting fed up and walking away, claiming that it doesn’t matter, they’re not voting, screw everybody (which, sadly, lets the perps who caused the mess to get back in charge)….

    Yeah, I feel the same way you do. But then I wonder about how President Obama must feel. How does he feel when he looks at this nation…when he sees the Repubs blocking all of his efforts to fix the damage done…when he sees the media blame _him_ and not the previous occupant of the White House for the mess…when he hears and reads angry, florid-faced charges and attacks from many in his own party and on his political side that claim that he’s not doing a damned thing and that he’s a corporate thug, a bastard, a low down–well, you get the picture.

    When I think about that, I realize that even though I’m heartbroken, I cannot give up. I cannot and I must not. Throwing up the hands and walking away solves NOTHING. It didn’t do it in ’68, it didn’t do it in ’80, in ’94, in 2000, and it sure as hell won’t do it now. That, and the realization that things take time, and that the process is slow, grinding, painful…but if you believe that things will improve and work toward it, that there will be and must be a better tomorrow, then hopefully the heartbreak will be brief.

    Yep, it’s a scary time. But I’m not running away–sometimes, you just gotta turn around and face the horrific thing right in the eye.

    Keep the faith. Things have got to improve–but we gotta make sure that it does.

  2. Thera, you have expressed so beautifully the heartache that is also bringing Stilli down. It is so very sad, our state of affairs, lately. But…I feel energized about November and I’m fired up and ready to go and, believe me, it really helps keep the heartache and worry at bay, when you’re fired up and ready to go.

    I agree with everything Marc McKenzie just said above. And like him, I’m gonna keep the faith and I’m gonna hope everyone else does too.

    1. another trope

      The futurist and economic iconoclast Hazel Henderson said: If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.

  3. another trope

    I feel you heart break. Your thoughts made me think of the one of the most difficult of meditation practice: tonglen.

    Pema Chodron in When Things Fall Apart:Heart Advice for Difficult Times

    Each of us has a “soft spot”: the place in our experience where we feel vulnerable and tender. This soft spot is inherent in appreciation and love, and it is equally inherent in pain.

    Often, when we feel that soft spot, it’s quickly followed by a feeling of fear and an involuntary, habitual tendency to close down. This is the tendency of all living things: to avoid pain and cling to pleasure. In practice, however, covering up the soft spot means shutting down against out life experience. Then we tend to narrow down into a solid feeling of self against other.

    One very powerful and effective way to work with tendency to push away pain and hold onto pleasure is the practice of tonglen. Tonglen is a Tibetan word that literally means “sending and taking.” The practice originated in India and came to Tibet in the eleventh century. In tonglen practice, when we see or feel suffering, we breathe in with the notion of completely feeling it, accepting it, and owning it. Then we breathe out, radiating compassion, lovingkindness, freshness; anything that encourages relaxation and openness.

    In this practice, it’s not uncommon to find yourself blocked, because you come face to face with your own fear, resistance, or whatever your personal stuckness happens to be at that moment. At that point, you can change the focus and do tonglen for yourself , and for millions of others just like you, at that very moment, who are feeling exactly the same misery.

    I particularly like to encourage tonglen, on the spot. For example, you’re walking down the street and you see the pain of another human being. On-the-spot tonglen means that you just don’t rush by; you actually breathe in with the wish that this person can be free of suffering, and send them out some kind of good heart or well-being. If seeing that other person’s pain brings up fear or anger or confusion, which often happens, just start doing tonglen for yourself and all the other people who are stuck in the very same way.

    Fran Grace said:

    In Tonglen, you are asked to acknowledge that suffering is real, yes. But, you are breathing the suffering of yourself and others into an Infinite Love which transmutes the suffering into healing. With your willingness, this Love offers itself through you. See if you can let go of the belief that you have to do it all on your own. All you are doing is breathing, accepting that suffering exists, and offering yourself as a source for Love and Light to others.,f5e7aeb2&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=u5M7j29gsuyuuLjWyx6HtA–

    1. I have that exact book you quoted from. But haven’t looked at it in a long time. And this is a much better description of tonglen than the one of the compassion meditation. And I’ll look up the link you posted as well.

      Actually, as soon as I simply admitted to myself WHAT I was feeling, and the depth of the feelings, and particularly as I thought of Buddha’s experience and that of Jesus, it really did make a huge difference. So I’ll hang onto the breathing part of it. I too am convinced you have to face and admit where you are… and transcend that… I think the breathing and the compassion do exactly that.


  4. I am very touched by these comments. You can only imagine how floored I was to see stilli’s post – so similar in a sense. I’m actually working myself up to posting on the spiritual aspects in much greater depth at the other two WordPress sites I put up recently. It’s part of a process that has taken on a life of its own. I mentally have 3 or 4 posts in mind (for there), threads I’m mentally tugging on (as part of something larger) – and I think I needed this recognition last night to move things forward. Your comments have been very helpful. (And some of the other stuff I was able to discuss this morning with a couple of spiritual friends – as well as some stuff they needed to discuss… and my state of mind was in that compassionate mode another trope addressed. So that tells me the “method” works, even if one had not consciously or specifically utilized it.)

    I also put this post up over at Mike’s site and he had an interesting take as well. And a video he recommended.

    As some of you know, it took a huge effort to address the issues of torture last year. I’ve had fall-out from that till recently even. And I only realized last night when it all fell together… as it all fell apart. But it’s bearing fruit now. And much fruit has ripened through all this time. Time to open the fruit and plant the seeds…

    Again, I so appreciate being able to put this up here. And your feedback. Gratitude!

  5. Pingback: Nailed to the Sacrament of the Present Moment « Casting Words to the Wind

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