By Marc Gafni
Your state, in this case a mystical state, is always interpreted through your level of consciousness.
Hurt is a state. This is a huge insight. You need to really take it in.
Hurt is not an objective reality that gives you license for cruelty under the cover of “I was hurt.”
Hurt is a state, and it is interpreted through your stage or level of consciousness. As you evolve, your relationship to your wounds naturally shifts. More than any other single barometer, what you do with your hurt reveals to you and others your genuine level of consciousness.
When you feel hurt, the masks of piety and the guises of liberation from ego are stripped away, and your naked heart is revealed to yourself and those with eyes to see.
Once you approach your hurt from this wider context, you can begin to appreciate the next instruction. Here it is in the form of a story:
The Hasidic master Naftali of Rophsitz told his students a tale of great healers being called to help the king. The king’s son was crying desperately. All the wise men of the kingdom, the doctors, the magicians, and shamans (the psychologists of the day) had been to see him, and none could comfort him or stop his crying. Indeed, every attempt at healing seemed to intensify the young prince’s woe.
It happened that an old woman from the hinterland of the kingdom was bringing milk to the palace. She passed the boy as he wandered, sobbing, near the kitchen. She approached him, not realizing he was the king’s son, and whispered a few words in his ear.
Lo and behold, he looked up at her, and his crying began to abate. In just a few minutes, he was not crying at all. And here Naftali ended his tale.
“Please, holy master,” the disciples pleaded with their teacher, “you must tell us. What magic, what amulet, what secret did the old wise woman—who we know must have been the Shekinah herself—what did she say?”
The master smiled. “It was very simple,” he said. “She told the boy, ‘You must not cry more than it hurts.’”
If we learn to live wide open even as we are hurt by love, then the divine wakes up to its own True Nature. To be firm in your knowing of love, even when you are desperate, and to be strong in your heart of forgiveness, even when you are betrayed, this is what it means to be holy.
Hurt is a state. You must always ask what has been hurt—your Unique Self or your ego. Then you must ask how much you have genuinely been hurt and what license does your hurt give or not give you. People lost in victimhood, making exaggerated or false claims, often inflict a thousandfold more hurt on their alleged abuser than the actual or imagined hurt they are claiming We must always protect the abused We need, however, to be very discerning, for sometimes the abusers disguise themselves as the abused. Lost in the egoic hypersensitive self, the true abusers have failed to align themselves with the larger context of the evolutionary impulse. When you do align yourself with your evolutionary obligation, your Unique Self, you do not ignore your wounds; however, your attachment to your wounds falls to the wayside.
You can let go of your own hurt as you embrace the wider evolutionary context. But you dare not do so with the hurt of another. Yes, you can and must demand that they not cry more than it hurts. You can and must demand that they not hurt others from the place of their untransformed wound. If they move to inflict hurt in such ways, you must hold them accountable before the bar of integrity and justice. This is absolutely true even if the impulse that moved them to maliciously inflict hurt was the confusion and pain of their own sense of woundedness. All the more so when the objective hurt they inflict exponentially exceeds the subjective and relatively minor wounds they received.
And yet, after all these caveats, and after we align with the larger evolutionary impulse that is beyond the personal, we need to never lose the full intensity of compassion for all personal suffering. Even when it is self-inflicted, narcissistic, and unnecessary. To judge which suffering will receive our love and compassion is a tricky business, with multiple egoic traps along the way.
The liberated prophet Isaiah channels the following divine teaching: bekol tzaratam lo tzar. “In all of your pain, God is in pain.” This refers not only to legitimate pain. Even petty and self-inflicted pain is felt and held by God.
The Hebrew word tzar means both pain and contraction. For the prophetic teaching refers not only to necessary pain. It refers rather to the majority of our pain, which is unnecessary and even frivolous. All of this pain is at its root a result of self-contraction. The prophetic channeling of the divine voice by Isaiah can be literally translated from the Hebrew as, “In all of your contraction, God is contracted.”
The way to open your heart through the pain is to find the God that is infinitely pained in your contraction. It is that God that leads from the narrow constriction of your pain to walk again in the wide spaces of your heart.
When the ego’s heart breaks, then the heart closes and contracts. When the Unique Self’s heart breaks, the heart opens through the pain into greater love.
The divine is dependent on us. In the direct language of the Unique Self Kabbalists, “Your actions either weaken or empower God.” When you expand, the divine surges with power and ecstasy and expands with you and as you. When you recoil into your small, petty, egoic self, the divine contracts with you and as you. But in that contraction, God also feels your pain. We may live lives of quiet desperation, but there are truly no lives of lonely desperation, for God is always with us in our pain.
You are invited to imitatio dei, the “imitation of the divine.” Imitate no one except God. Just as God never forsakes the personal for the sake of the process, so too never let go of your empathy and compassion, even for self-inflicted suffering.
The prophets never close their hearts. When someone hurts, they say, “Oh my God, you hurt so badly! Let me hold you and love you. I know you may have done to this yourself, and I will bust you for it tomorrow. But at this very moment, I do not care. I just want to hold you and make it better.”