by Pulkit Sharma
When we are caring for someone, the greatest concern is the inability to navigate through our suffering while trying to resolve the struggles of the ailing person.
It is fairly common to be emotionally upset by the person’s and our own pain so much so that we lose faith in the Divine plan and in the will to progress. We begin to believe that we are hapless victims of a cruel destiny.
Many amongst us get so engulfed in these thoughts that we end up immolating our own mission and the makings. This generates resentment, anguish and desolation that eventually manifest as a host of physical and mental symptoms. Then, there are some caregivers who find caregiving so arduous and suffocating that they do it apathetically and end up suffering from unconscious shame and guilt.
The light of ethereal wisdom can enable us to see through the falsehood of suffering and evolve so that we lighten the burden of ailing persons. The Tamil spiritual classic, Tirumantiram reveals that suffering is an illusion. We see it because we depend solely on our physical eye to perceive the reality and do not see from the inner eye. When the inner eye gets stimulated, we see the Divine light. The ego dissolves and the pain is dispersed. What remains is oneness and bliss. To reach this point, we must hold on to our faith and work constantly on evolving ourselves.
When we keep the faith and analyse the notion of suffering, we stop being overwhelmed by the ailing person’s pain. We understand that whatever happens is ultimately for the good and someday celestial radiance will overpower the transitory darkness. Feeling thus empowered, we gather our will and effort and fight valiantly against adversities while lending support to the ailing person.
According to a legend, Yogi Tirumular who authored Tirumantiram took compassion on a herd of cattle that had lost their shepherd. He entered the body of the shepherd through his yogic powers and continued to look after the flock. No wonder, Tirumantiram also teaches us that love and God are one and the same and that compassion is one of the best forms of devotion. By serving those who are in pain and deprivation, we move closer to God. On this path, we emerge from the narrow confines of individuality and develop a deep universal love for everyone and everything. Our heart melts away in compassion and we feel an ecstasy of love.
The Divine is eternally compassionate, and He wants to pour down His compassion on this world through each one of us but because of our ignorance and self-centredness, we resist this flow. If we were to open ourselves to the Divine influence, this compassion will never exhaust us. Our life will take on a new meaning and there will be a lasting joy. From a spiritual point of view, caregiving is an opportunity for becoming an instrument of the Divine compassion and evolving into a new being.
Hold on to Hope
It is indeed the destiny of all human beings to know the final truth someday and merge into it. Each one of us can tread, and perhaps will have to tread, a path which takes us from hell to heaven, and from dust to divinity. The nature of each one of us is that final truth and nothing else.
– Sri Siddheshwar
Most of us often lose hope when we see our loved ones suffering from psychological disorders. If the illness prolongs or worsens, our anguish intensifies as we think despairingly of how to bring the person back to sanity and yet keep ourselves stable in the process. Sometimes, nothing seems to be going right and we wonder why the universe has singled us and our loved one out for the hard knocks.
To overcome this gloom, we can instead begin to acquaint ourselves with a spiritual understanding of mental illness and associated difficulties. Spirituality firmly believes that such suffering is not because of past sins, cruelty or an ill-gotten fate, but that the purpose of mental illness is to make us all aware that we are not aligned with higher consciousness. Your experience is an expression of the soul’s search for wholeness. It opens a window of opportunity for the ailing persons and their caregivers to slow down and reflect deeply about the meaning and purpose of their own life, become aware of their own self and redirect their life.
If you take this opportunity to change your inner beliefs, there will be a radical transformation within. You will develop profound awareness, resilience, tolerance, compassion, fearlessness and faith. Enriched by this new perspective, you are endowed with the strength to encourage the ailing person to look at the illness differently and arrive at an immutable panacea. Keep the flame of hope alive and find ways to outgrow the fear and sadness. With the focus shifting towards a complete metamorphosis, the burden fades away.
• Read life-changing stories from mythology, literature and autobiographies of people who transformed themselves after a chronic illness, misery or catastrophe.
• Think about your own unique capabilities, inner strength, aspirations and analyse your current limitations. With this in mind, creatively frame a mission statement describing what you wish to accomplish in this lifetime. Revisit this statement every day.
• Make monthly, weekly and daily targets to bring this vision to life.
• Think of innovative ways by which you can develop yourself to realise this aim while being immersed in caregiving.
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This post has been extracted from When the Soul Heals – Explorations in Spiritual Psychology by Pulkit Sharma (2019, AuroPublications)
Pulkit Sharma is a clinical psychologist and spiritual counsellor. He has worked as a mental health consultant and research head with several organizations. His inspirational and philosophical writings have been published in acclaimed journals, newspapers and magazines. This book is based on his unique technique that combines psychology and spirituality to help people reclaim their lives. He lives in Puducherry, India, with his wife and daughter.