Healing Is a Process
Thursday, September 17, 2020
I have been recently introduced to the work of Lama Rod Owens, a Black, queer, American-born, Tibetan Buddhist teacher, who was raised in the Christian church and graduated from Harvard Divinity School. Perhaps it is because of his many identities that his teachings on love, self-compassion, and justice seem to be drawn from the perennial wisdom of Reality itself. He writes here of the needed work of healing our own wounds so that the healing can be passed on:
Healing is being situated in love. Healing is not just the courage to love, but to be loved. It is the courage to want to be happy not just for others, but for ourselves as well. It is interrogating our bodies as an artifact of accumulated traumas and doing the work of processing that trauma by developing the capacity to notice and be with our pain. If we are to heal, then we must allow our awareness to settle into and integrate with the pain and discomfort that has been habitually avoided. We cannot medicate the pain away. We embrace it, and in so doing establish a new relationship with the experience. We must see that there is something that must be befriended. This is the true nature of our experience, and in finally approaching this experience we contact basic sanity. . . .
Healing is movement and work toward wholeness. Healing is never a definite location but something in process. It is the basic ordinary work of staying engaged with our own hurt and limitations. Healing does not mean forgiveness either, though it is a result of it. Healing is knowing our woundedness; it is developing an intimacy with the ways in which we suffer. Healing is learning to love the wound because love draws us into relationship with it instead of avoiding feeling the discomfort.
Healing means we are holding the space for our woundedness and allowing it to open our hearts to the reality that we are not the only people who are hurt, lonely, angry, or frustrated. We must also release the habitual aggression that characterizes our avoidance of trauma or any discomfort. My goal is to befriend my pain, to relate to it intimately as a means to end the suffering of desperately trying to avoid it. Opening our hearts to woundedness helps us to understand that everyone else around us carries around the same woundedness. . . .
Perhaps what I have come to understand, finally, is that somehow I have become the one I have always wanted. This is why I do the things that I do. There is a fierce love that wakes me up every morning, that makes me tell my stories, refuses to let me apologize for my being here, blesses me with the capacity to be silent, alone, and grieving when I most need to be. You have to understand that this is what I mean when I say healing.
May all beings be seen, held kindly, and loved. May we all one day surrender to the weight of being healed.
Lama Rod Owens, “Remembering Love: An Informal Contemplation of Healing,” in Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens with Jasmine Syedullah, PhD (North Atlantic Books: 2016), 64–65, 67–68, 74.