“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.”
– Dean Jackson
Jesus, Osiris, Krishna, Horus, Buddha…
What do all these have in common?
Each suffered immense periods of suffering prior to achieving a state of complete enlightenment. This patterns repeats itself throughout the entirety of human history.
We must overcome adversity in order to become greater beings.
With Easter right around the corner, a Scripture comes to mind:
“Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
– Mark 10:19-21 (KJV)
People in western countries with strong Christian influences have no doubt heard the phrase, “We all have our cross to bear.” This means we all carry around copious amounts of unresolved pain, but also points to the divine nature within which we can transcend the pain.
Just as Jesus transcended his on Calvary.
Just as the great leaders and role models in your life transcended theirs.
The Buddha said, “All I teach is suffering and the end of suffering.” In his teaching, suffering goes beyond the grave physical pain. It extends into the mental suffering experienced as we hold onto pleasure and the fleeting nature of life.
No one wakes up enlightened one day. You must first embark through the pain of transformation. But what does that look like? I believe it comes down to three main phases…
Phase 1: A Period of Resistance
When we resist parts of ourselves, hiding from our past or present experience, the psyche becomes full of judgment and painful emotions. Too often we hide from our true nature, rather choosing to suppress the aspects of ourselves we view as flawed or wrong.
This resistance to acceptance causes a division in our psyche. Repression creates an isolated box where we put pain. Meanwhile, our true state is yearning for love, joy and wholeness.
Ego destroys. The lust to be seen in a positive light, for others to perceive us as good people, prevents us from admitting our own pain, limitations and truth. In an effort to not feel pain, we create resistance that subjugates the experience as not important and banishes it from the kingdom of our minds.
This pain is the beginning of transformation.
But in order to move forward, we must acknowledge our faults, failures and shortcomings. It’s the only way to find true healing.
Most automatically repress pain as it tries to rise to the surface. However, if we can consciously address the issue, we’ll begin a path of true transformation. No more rationalizing the behaviours you’ve self-judged as bad. No more pushing away pain because, “It’s in the past and I just need to move on.”
It’s time to set your ego aside and open your heart to the pain.
Phase 2: The Paradigm Shift
All emotional states are governed by two master emotions: Love and Fear.
As you open your heart to pain, you will – no doubt – experience the desire to flee the situation. Why? Because you’re afraid.
Fear has its place. When a child places her hand on the stove, she learns to fear the stove. In her early years, this is a healthy fear. It keeps her safe. But if she remains paralyzed by this as the years go on, it will stunt her from fulfilment. It will keep her from love.
Eventually, you see, this fear would keep her from cooking; from making a healthy dinner and showing self-love to her body. The fear is no longer protecting her, but hindering her.
So many of us do this with our emotional pain.
Something hurts us once and we become paralyzed to ever feel the emotion again. Instead, we must understand that all things must be done from a place of love, not fear. This paradigm shift is where we truly begin to transform.
Phase 3: Metamorphosis
After going through resistance and the paradigm shift from fear to love, we’re well on our way to experiencing true transformation. And it’s in this space where we find fulfillment.
You see, in the midst of our journey, the pain has brought wisdom.
And the wisdom provides us with a perspective to share. That desire to share, brings a yearning for connection. Ultimately, the yearning drives us to make lasting, authentic connections with those around us.
Why do you think these spiritual leaders have so many followers? They walked a path of pain and, instead of hiding it in shame, shared it with the world.
You and I can do the same.
Whatever pain you’re experiencing, it’s time to stop resisting it. The world needs your story. I need your story. Embrace your true self. Open your heart to love. Journey with me through the pain and into a beautiful paradise of transformation.