Sometimes I think the world is like a stack of dominoes, and the pain of one, if it is not healed, if it consumes the person, then gets passed on to the other, and the other, and the other. And by passing on our pain, we all fall. My teacher Sharon Gannon says in her essay that the word perception means "to see". But it's more than seeing with the physical eyes. It's also more than just understanding. It's to realize. When we perceive the world in the light of love, when someone challenges our sensitivities or says or does something hurtful to us or the ones we care about, we no longer need to be consumed in anger or vengeance. We begin to understand that the person inflicting pain on others is himself or herself in pain. We develop compassion. This does not mean we become willing victims and we put ourselves in situations for others to abuse us. Compassion means we stand firm and strong, and we wish instead for the happiness and freedom of those who suffer.
One of the ways we can develop compassion is to see the person who hurt us as a child. He or she was once a child who merely wanted to be loved, to feel secure and safe. Somewhere between then and now, he or she experienced pain, and he or she didn't know how to deal with it, and he or she ended up hurting others, including us. To realize this is to have the beginnings of forgiveness. If in our mind we are still holding on to a balance sheet of what this person should say or do or change or ask or apologize for, not only are we keeping them captive, but we are also holding on to the pain and setting it up for it to be passed on. In the light of love, we can set this person free from what we think he or she owes us. In the light of compassion, we can let go of the heaviness that weighs down at us. In the light of understanding, we see that we are essentially the same, living this life pursuing happiness and avoiding pain.
Let us learn to stand firm and steady and strong, such that when others try to pull us down, our compassion continues to hold us up. And then we do not need to receive suffering. And then we do not need to pass on the suffering. And then we break the cycle of pain and violence.