Learn the alchemy
true human beings know.
The moment you accept
what troubles you’ve been given,
the door will open.
Elizabeth Lesser is co-founder of the Omega Institute and author of 2004 book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow. In an excerpt titled Open Secret, she writes:
How do we use the forces of a difficult time to help us grow? There are many ways, but the first way, the gateway, is to know that we are not alone in these endeavors. One of the greatest enigmas of human behavior is the way we isolate ourselves from each other.
I am struck, all these years later, by the relevance of her words – especially in the aftershock of last week’s Newtown horror. She goes on to say:
We imagine that we are unique in our eccentricities or failures or longings. And so . . . we feel shame when we stumble and fall. When difficulties come our way, we don’t readily seek out help and compassion because we think others might not understand, or they would judge us harshly, or take advantage of our weakness. And so we hide out, and we miss out.
Rumi addresses this idea as the ‘open secret.’ In her words:
When we don’t share the secret ache in our hearts – the normal bewilderment of being human – it turns into something else. Our pain, and fear, and longing, in the absence of company, become alienation, and envy, and competition.
The irony of hiding the dark side of our humanness is that our secret is not really a secret at all. How can it be when we’re all safeguarding the very same story? That’s why Rumi calls it an Open Secret. It’s almost a joke – a laughable admission that each one of us has a shadow self-a bumbling, bad-tempered twin.
Rumi claims that the moment we acknowledge our troubles, a door opens. An undefended heart shared encourages a second heart to open. And so on. Such important wisdom, as applicable today as ever. Might this be one step toward dialogue, toward breaking down barriers, toward healing??