"... I wrote about the suffering of my own childhood and my years of feeling isolated and unhappy. When he read it, my friend Bob Thurman said, 'You should never be ashamed of the suffering you've been through.' His comment really surprised me. In that moment, I realized how much subtle shame I had been carrying without realizing it.
"Bob was passing along a message he'd received years earlier, after he'd lost his left eye in an accident. His teacher at the time, a Mongolian monk named Geshe Wangyal, had told him, 'Never be ashamed of what happened to you. You have lost one eye but gained a thousand eyes of wisdom.'
"I do think it's too simplistic to say that such awful experiences should be considered gifts. But acknowledging that a gift can emerge from pain does not mock the pain itself. It's affirming that we can look at any experience from the fullness of our being and that we can get past the shame we carry. Bob still lost an eye. I still had a really unhappy childhood. Patty's parents were still alcoholics, and Maria's father was still disconnected and hurtful. But if we use our experiences to care for and love ourselves more, and if we use them to connect more deeply with others, then losing an eye can indeed lead to a thousand eyes of wisdom."
What are you noticing about shame?
"Forget everything that everyone has ever told you about 'shame.'
It is a thought.
It has no existence of its own.
You create it from your thoughts.
Don't do that."
(from Karen Maezen Miller)
for Mindful Monday
Sources: Sharon Salzberg. Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection. New York: Flatiron Books, 2017, pp. 82-83.
Karen Maezen Miller, private correspondence, 2016.
Photo credit: "Moonlight Bay - I swim to the moon," Hartwig HKD, 2010.