Karuna - The Sky Goddess
by Kaveri Patel
Image of "The Sky Goddess" by Angel2012
All suffering is soul suffering-
believing you are less or
more than you truly are,
denying your blemishes
promoting your glamour
forgetting the sky above
you, perpetual witness
to all your selves and
never turning away.
What does it mean to love yourself? You may read articles or books that offer many avenues to self-care – a massage, exercise, time outdoors, a makeover, a new hairstyle or wardrobe, prayer, meditation, engaging in a creative endeavor, etc.
Now let me phrase the question a bit differently. What does it mean to love yourself COMPLETELY?
For me, this question has taken center stage on the altar of my spiritual practice. Completely oblivious to the realization that I was using Buddhism as another self improvement project, I spent the first years of meditation practice turning my Inner Critic into a Buddhist Critic. I’d feel good when others praised me and dejected when criticized.
In Jungian psychology, we tend to suppress our unacceptable, unlovable parts. Submerging them deep into the sea of our subconscious minds, we wonder why we are plagued by the same themes in dreams and hear the same uninvited guests knocking on our door day after day.
I spent years forsaking fear and aversion, abandoning them like disgraceful children who could never measure up to my expectations. Instead I would promote my more respectable qualities as an empathetic physician, talented writer, and mindful parent. A full-fledged Boddhisattvina, I was sure to be safe, loved, and secure forever.
But fear and aversion kept knocking on my door. I was tired of suffering, and realized I would have to invite them in for tea sooner or later. Through compassion practice I took a vow to stay, to try and make meaningful conversation, and recited the following phrases:
I care about this suffering.
May I be free of suffering.
I understand this suffering.
May I be kind and gentle.
It’s not my fault.
Over time I took refuge in the compassionate presence of the vast sky above me, perpetual witness to all my perceived identities. No matter how angry, scared, lost, or blemished I felt, the sky never turned away, never stopped shining with joy or raining tears of heartfelt understanding.
I’ve read in the soul retrieval process that a shaman brings back all parts of one’s soul that are missing. In this case, the shaman is the sky goddess Karuna (compassion) urging me to make space for all parts of my soul, both pleasant and unpleasant.
Maybe fear and aversion are dusty gems just waiting to be polished with presence. In the light of a vast love that embraces all things, they are no longer my fear and aversion or your fear and aversion, but part of our shared and vulnerable humanity.
Return to Home Page