The chemotherapy drug slowly dripped into my friend’s arm as we sat in the treatment room. She had been diagnosed some months earlier with an aggressive form of breast cancer, and, after surgery, was receiving a regime of outpatient chemotherapy treatments.
The room in which we sat was a large, airy space with about two dozen comfortable reclining chairs where people were receiving their intravenous treatment. The patients were from a broad cross section of society: young and old, rich and poor, men and women, alone or with family and friends. But all were there because they had hope that they could avoid the suffering of advancing cancer and find happiness once more in a disease-free life.
Paramhansa Yogananda said that everyone in this world shares one common motivation in life: to avoid suffering and find happiness. Everything we do is a higher or lower expression of this same shared goal. For some, happiness means chasing the will-o’-the-wisp of material desires or achieving recognition in the eyes of the world. For others, it’s to serve those in need and lessen their suffering. And for a few, it means finding the source of true happiness: the bliss of God.
Even as we ascend the ladder of wakefulness in God, we still share with all humanity—with all life, in fact—that same twofold motivation: to avoid pain and to find happiness. Knowing this, it’s much easier to see behind the multifarious expressions of human behavior and feel compassion and kinship with everyone.
As my friend and I sat together that day, she gradually drifted off to sleep, and I picked up some knitting that I’d brought along with me. As I began the rhythmic process of moving the yarn over and under the needles, one of the other patients in the room started walking towards me, pushing her IV bag and drip tube on its mobile pole.
She was an older woman, alone, and after she sat down in an empty chair next to me, she began speaking in a thick German accent. “I haven’t seen anyone knitting in a long time,” she began. “You see, when I was a little girl during World War II, my family lived on a small farm in northern Germany. We were starving, because all the food was sent to the troops, and we were always cold because our clothes were threadbare and filled with holes.
“When the American paratroopers began landing behind our military lines, they would abandon their silk parachutes in the woods. My family would search for the ‘chutes,’ tear the silk into strips, and then knit them into warm clothing. We were so grateful to the soldiers for such gifts.”
We talked on during that long afternoon. Our experiences in life had been very different, and yet as children of our one Father/Mother, God, we had so much in common and so much to share.
Towards Oneness with all,