Bearing Witnessa - a reflection by Evi Gemmon Ketterer
“I, Gemmon, practice to devote myself to not-knowing. I will practice to open myself to the insight, that the ungraspable life is always more than the power of my eye of study and practice can see.
I practice to devote myself to bearing witness. I will practice to realize that the ungraspable life manifests itself in ungraspable many expressions. Therefore I will encounter all creations with respect and dignity and allow myself to be touched by the joys and pain of the universe.
I practice to devote myself to healing. I will practice to be in relationship with everything, to strengthen my capacity to love and acceptance and to use my life and love for healing myself, the earth, humanity, and all creations.”
That’s what I vowed in 2001. I changed some wording, yet, the intention is an unbroken line until today. I added “devotion” as it is the heart of all three tenets. Devoting the everyday experience of my small self to the greater Self of the source of life which I am an expression of – ass far as my eye of study and practice is able to see. But as this self sees just such a small section of what life itself is, I practice to get deeper, so I will be more able to strengthen my capacity for love and healing. Bearing witness is the tool to bridge the tenet of not-knowing and healing.
As we are mammals, our brain is inclined to survive by running away, fight or playing dead when discomfort arises. A pure survival strategy, that granted your species to survive a view thousand years. It taught us for generations, that our small life is threatened if we trust the wrong way. Just those of our ancestors survived that had the capacity to fear at the right time. And yet, we went beyond of the boundaries of what is needed. Fear created hatred and greed and now we are in a position, we are the thread. We created a vicious circle and now we run away from ourselves inside and out.
Bearing witness is to face the thread, to widen our insight of the Oneness of life, including all we fear and all we love. Going beyond, we realize that there is no such thing as a small, separate self that lives out the deluded idea, that we will survive by subduing everything else.
Sitting in Auschwitz, Lampedusa, Srebrenica and now the coal mine in Germany, we sooner or later realize this delusion. By facing the outcome of our survival strategies, we are able to hear the cry of mother earth and of the victims of ignorance. We strengthen our capacity to stay and see, to widen the circle of what our eye of study and practice is able to see.
As we run away from this crying, we also run away from the beauty and love this life offers. In my opinion, this is the reason, why at one side we experience in bearing witness the heaviness of our hearts and at the same time the deep interconnectedness of all. At the end, we might feel a much deeper sense of true compassion and our vows to enlighten might see, that diversity and oneness are just the two sides of the same token. Therefore Bearing witness is the bridge between radical openness and healing.
And maybe, one day, maybe even through our small death, we might be able to realize, that all we see and have will end, but the oneness of life will find ungraspable new ways of expressing itself. It would be sweet and loving, if we would realize it now and be able to devote the life of this small self to interconnectedness of all life.
More about Evi Gemmon Ketterer see on her website: https://www.brunnenhofzendo.ch
Picture by Peter Cunningham