The week has been full of news of shootings, murders, suffering. There is one thing that makes it possible for human being to complete on suffering: the opportunity to speak one’s suffering and have it gotten by another human being with nothing added.
If the perpetrators of this week’s violence had had this opportunity things would have gone differently. So too all of us with our day-to-day petty violences of speaking and domination: this one thing changes everything.
To be the space in which another’s suffering is completed is a great act of love. It is the act of the bodhisattva, a being who ends suffering. And to be such a space, one first has to offer oneself.
Following is a description of the practice from Thich Nhat Hanh. Note, the person may or may not accept the offer. If they do, then everything becomes possible.
“… we can go the other person and say, “My dear friend, I know that you have suffered a lot in the past. I’m sorry that I have not understood your suffering, and I have contributed to it by my way of reacting to what you have said and done. I don’t want you to suffer and I don’t want to destroy you. I really want you to be happy because I know that if you are happy, I’ll have a chance to be happy also. I know that you have a lot of perceptions and ideas about me. You may think that I am terrible, that I am evil. I am sorry. Because I did not understand your suffering, I could not help you and I have made the situation worse. I am very sorry; I don’t want this to continue. If you care to talk to me, if you care to tell me what is in your heart, what unskillful things I have done to you, then I promise I will do my best to help you and in the future I will refrain from doing and saying the things that can make you and me suffer.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Calming the fearful mind: A Zen response to terrorism