Ask: Is the ache I feel for others a judgment?

Is the ‘ache’ I feel for others a judgment? …What I am experiencing is an overwhelming sadness/ache for others and I sense this is in fact the flip-side of the ego coin and is a form of judgment in its own right.  The arrogance of ‘feeling sorry for people’ perhaps, although it doesn’t feel like pity…I feel overwhelmed at times by this ‘ache’ for others, for the state of the world and so on.  I wonder if it is like any other projection that needs to be recognised for what it is, forgiven and released to the Holy Spirit?  That said, the ego tells me that if I felt neutral and peaceful over the plight of others I would be cold and heartless.  I understand that the pain and suffering of the world is not the Truth, but as a seeming person living ‘in it’ I can’t quite grasp that, although I get the metaphysics of it…” - AM

            You are projecting meaning (judgment – wrong/bad) onto what you see happening in others’ lives and responding to your projections of meaning as though they are real. You ache for others because you identify with them. In other words, you are looking out at others from the ego (personal thought system) rather than from an awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit). So you are using these situations to reinforce your belief in the ego in your mind. And, yes, as A Course in Miracles teaches, this is a judgment against yourself because the ego is not you.

“To empathize does not mean to join in suffering, for that is what you must refuse to understand. That is the ego's interpretation of empathy, and is always used to form a special relationship in which the suffering is shared. The capacity to empathize is very useful to the Holy Spirit, provided you let Him use it in His way. His way is very different. He does not understand suffering, and would have you teach it is not understandable. When He relates through you, He does not relate through your ego to another ego. He does not join in pain, understanding that healing pain is not accomplished by delusional attempts to enter into it, and lighten it by sharing the delusion.”(T-16.I.1)

As long as you see yourself as a “seeming person living ‘in it’ (the world)” you will not grasp how you can look on the world and see that suffering is not real. You must make the choice to let go of your identification with a self in a body in a world and to learn What is real. In a situation where you are confronted with a story of suffering you can turn away from the story, and therefore the ego in you, and remember that only God (your True Being) in you and in the other is real. This is true empathy. And this is how you can use these situations to remember the Truth instead of to reinforce your belief in the ego.
Of course to the ego your turning away from the ego and its projections appears cold and heartless. And as long as the ego and its projections of meaning seem real to you, you will agree with the ego on this. But as you grow your awareness of Truth you will find yourself overlooking what appears in the world. You will feel compassion for others in that they suffer, but you will know that what they suffer over is not real. In time you will also learn that their suffering is not real, either. But you cannot know this from the ego. You can only know this from an awareness that only the Truth is true.

In anticipation of the emails I will get let me say this about responding to others who seem to be suffering: No, you do not want to say to others that what they suffer over is not real. You do not want to tell them that their own suffering is not real. If you wish to do that you are coming from a competing ego not the Holy Spirit (your awareness of Truth). You just need to know for them that suffering is not real while they still think it is. You will find yourself saying things like, “I can see this really hurts you” or “I’m sorry you are hurting” and leaving it at that. For many, all they want is to be heard and understood. That’s all the love that they can accept in their belief that suffering is real. To love others in the world you meet them where they think they are, not where you want them or even know them to be.

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will said…
Something to consider...

“Probably more fun is poked at metaphysics and mysticism because of their use of the words “real,” “unreal,” “reality,” and “unreality,” than for any other reason. Metaphysicians are often ridiculed because some of them use such expressions as, “It is unreal,” or “It is untrue.” Two cars collide head-on and scatter themselves and those in them all over the scenery and the metaphysician comes along and says, “Oh, it’s unreal; it isn’t true. It never happened.” Can you blame the world for ridiculing such statements? The world does not understand the metaphysical meaning of the words “untrue” or “unreal,” and the sad part is that very often the metaphysician using these same words does not understand the meaning of them either.
The words “real” or “reality” pertain only to that which is spiritual, eternal, immortal and infinite. Only that which is of God is understood to be “real” or is recognized as “reality.” With this definition of reality in mind it should be easy to grasp the statement that we cannot see, hear, taste, touch or smell reality.

When we speak of sin and disease as unreal we do not mean that they are nonexistent. If a person has had ingrained in him from infancy that the material is the real, then to him the disease exists. When sin, disease and death are called unreal it is not a denial of the so-called existence of these things: It is a denial of their existence as a part of God or reality.

In the realm of the real, the kingdom of God, the discords of sense have no existence. That, however does not change the fact that we suffer from them. The unreality of it does not lessen our pain or remove our lack or limitation because to our sense of things, we are suffering from them.”

The Art of Spiritual Healing
Joel Goldsmith, 1959
dansfacim said…
Liz you are really good at explaining the distinction between the ego and TRUTH. This reminds me of Ken Wapnick saying, "we need to respect everyone else's detours" -- not easy (actually it's IMPOSSIBLE to do if we are coming from the ego). Another important thing I can get out of this, is that it's MY identification with MY ego, whenever I feel 'sick/sad ache' because of something I see in the world.. great 'red flag'.. Thanks again Liz!
Aleta said…
Thanks for the quote, Will. It strikes a chord with me because some time back, when I was trying (foolishly) to explain to my fundamentalist Christian sister the Course in Miracles, she couldn't grasp what I meant by the unreality of the world or by the idea of there being no sin. It was a friendly conversation that almost turned angry and we no longer talk about our beliefs, except that once in awhile my sister will ask a question out of the blue about how the Course views something, and I often wonder if she isn't entertaining it.

I like your last statement, Liz: "To love others in the world you meet them where they think they are, not where you want them or even know them to be." Very true!
Layla M said…
As an ACIM study group facilitator, I come across this question often, and feel very clear about it. No matter what you perceive in this world, the true response to it is always the same: identifying with and resting in the Truth within yourself, and responding to the guidance from Spirit therein. That guidance will be exactly for that which you are perceiving, anything from "you need do nothing here, just stay with Me (Truth)" OR it could be a clear prompting to aid, support or intercede with complete love and peacefulness coming from Spirit itself through you. And no one can ever judge that guidance, because it is specific and "highly individualized" as the Course says. How I deal with these moments is to allow whatever thoughts/feelings to come up without judging, and then ask Holy Spirit "what do you want me to do here -- anything?" And then I listen. Sometimes there is no time involved in the guidance. The response that comes through me is swift, exact and clear. How do I know that it is from Spirit? Because the action, be it words, a gesture or movement gives an experience of graceful bliss as it's happening, and you know you are in the extension of God's love. If the guidance is to be silent and just turn away, you feel the same graceful bliss because ALL guidance from Spirit feels like that!

Love to all,
Layla M
will said…
Some years ago I read a book called Peace Pilgrim: Her Life & Her Work. It came to mind so I'm passing it along. You can read the review on Amazon.

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