This past year I had a chance to attend a talk (satsang) with Jeannie Zandi. If you haven’t had the chance to attend a satsang, the gist is that, if you’re lucky*, you are in a group of genuine people asking about their agony. The roaring wound in them that can’t seem to heal. (*If you are unlucky, and at a satsang with people who are trying to pin down concepts, it is like attending a pretty maddening spiritual debate club.)
The general question the ego wants to ask all spiritual teachers in satsang is, “What is wrong with me that I can’t X? When will I Y? What is wrong with me? Am I the worst of the bunch? The one that will never be free?” And Jeannie has a particular loving touch about this.
One woman asked her about why she couldn’t turn away from the suffering of all animals. What was wrong with her that she couldn’t stop obsessively caring about the animals? She felt almost embarrassed that she couldn’t stop thinking of ways to save them all.
I find it fun to sit with a mature teacher and imagine how I would answer, and then listen for how much deeper and wider and more loving their answer is.
My answer at that time would have covered something more psychological; Who is it she’s really trying to save? Or more energetic; Is there a way she can gently turn towards all the good that is happening here? Not to drop the agony, but to just begin to invite in something else too… But basically all my answers aimed towards how-to-make-it-stop.
Jeannie on the other hand (I’m paraphrasing) said that we all have our particular worry stones to hold, polish, and carry. And turning towards the suffering of animals was hers. Obsessing about saving all the harmed animals on the planet wasn’t a mistake in her, it was an assignment.
What I got from that moment of Jeannie speaking is that we don’t need to over-suffer or be consumed by our assignments, but if we can turn towards them and own them as ours, then we’re turning towards an important piece of the puzzle that we hold for the totality. If we can hold our worry stones as sacred rather than burdensome, perhaps we’ll uncover something remarkable. Not necessarily so we can fix it (though it’s also not necessary to assume that it won’t ever be healed in the world), but rather for us. Because we are also part of the totality; There is something potent in this worry stone, or assignment, that will help us to unfold.
Relief flooded through the room. Permission to be our sweet, neurotic, messy-hearted human selves. To admit that there are some stones we just can’t put down no matter how hard we try. Because they belong to us, to our Soul selves.
What’s your worry stone? I’ll go first- since childhood it has been around how and why humans lose their humanity. Maybe it’s not a problem that I’m holding that, or that you’re holding yours. Maybe it’s a miracle each of us has for the world. Maybe we, in all our humanness, are the miracle of the world.