The traditional life of The Ferryman is all about transporting passengers from one side of a river or estuary to the other. He is needed where the water is too deep for a crossing on foot and where there is no bridge. In literature and mythology he is often seen as an agent of transition from life to death.
In this article we see the ferryman as an agent of transition, and a champion of compassion, in the context of suffering and pain.
We all want health, wealth and personal happiness. Yet it is in these three big areas that we all get tested, eventually. We all suffer at some point - one way or another.
Suffering is an unavoidable part of the human condition. Often we just struggle on through it as best we can until things take a turn for the better. But there are other times when there is nothing more we can do and still it goes on, and on.
Traditional teaching suggests that you have two options: you can resist suffering or you can accept it.
I want to offer you a third, and potentially more powerful option, you can use suffering.
You can let go of
self-centered worries and become a champion of compassion. It can be the
greatest happiness of all. But it comes at a cost.
Compassion is threatening to the ego. We might think of it as
something warm and soothing, but actually it’s very raw. When we set out
to support other beings, when we go so far as to stand in their shoes,
when we aspire to never close down to anyone, we quickly find ourselves
in the uncomfortable territory of “life not on my terms.”
Compassion is threatening to the ego. We might think of it as something warm and soothing, but actually it’s very raw. When we set out to support other beings, when we go so far as to stand in their shoes, when we aspire to never close down to anyone, we quickly find ourselves in the uncomfortable territory of “life not on my terms.”
In Buddhist thought and teaching The Ferryman is a metaphor for a champion of compassion.
In a recent article I shared how my late father suffered thoughout his life from many serious and tragic setbacks, and how he experienced depression, despair and a deep seated feeling of not being good enough.
Yet despite his pain and unresolved suffering he reached out to many people and through his personal kindnesses, and especially through his lifelong ministry as a Methodist lay preacher, he touched the lives of many people.
In preparation for his funeral I received the following tribute from someone to whom he had been a surrogate Uncle right to the end of his life:
“Don was one of the good guys and he made an intense and positive impact on our lives."
On a personal note, I carry wounds, deep wounds that I have borne for over 20 years - the best years of my adult life - and that I am not yet ready to share in a public forum such as this.
It is from these depths that I find the means and motivation to share, through all of the articles on this website, some of the little I have learned. I do this in the hope that it may bring help and support to many others in their passage across the river of life.
Next Article: Things Of The Spirit
Return from "On Becoming The Ferryman" to: Walking The Talk
Or to: What Is Spirituality?
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