When it's 'the' cancer instead of 'my' cancer, I can relate to others with the same difficulty, and I can send compassion into the cancer rather than helplessly avoiding it and turning its pain to suffering. When it's 'my' cancer, 'my' AIDS, I am isolated from the source of my greatest comfort. I am locked in with my suffering.
When it's 'the' depression, I take it less personally and I am not too threatened to investigate it...seeing the universality of our shared condition offers a broader path of healing on which to continue...When it's 'the' pain, it has the whole universe to float in; when it's 'my' pain, I'm standing alone in it.
(And more from Stephen Levine...)
Heaven is an emanation from the centre of the heart. Hell is the heat produced from the friction of opposing desires, a dissonance between what we thought we should be and what we thought we were. It is maintained by judgment and righteous indignation. It is our fallen angel.
We are members of the community of impermanence.