Words from the Deep Spring

You Can Never Do It All


Aaron: Good evening and my love to you all. 

I spoke with a friend this week who came to me in tears. She is a single mother with two school-age children. Her own mother has been sick and lives a thousand miles away. She has a demanding job through which she supports herself and her children. She was feeling frantic because she had the job, the children to care for, the sick mother who needed her, and she couldn’t do it all.

Your situation may not be identical but you can never do it all. Her concerned feelings were not a matter of wanting the applause or approval of others. She just felt that she so badly wanted to take care of every aspect of her life. In her professional life she works in an interpersonal way with others so she supports the clients she works with, she supports her children, she supports her mother emotionally. 

There was no compassion for herself and the difficulty of her situation, just anger at herself, “I can’t do it all and …” I quote her, “… I should be able to do it all.”

“Why should you?” I asked her.

“Well, because they need me.”

“That’s not logical,” I told her. “Just because they need you, you should be able to fulfill their needs?”

Slowly she started to see where she was stuck, how hard she was being on herself, but there was such a driving aspiration to serve all of these beings lovingly. And there was no sense of how she might be kind and support herself. There was such a sense of failure because she could not be everything for everybody.

Many religions offer the guidance, “Love one another.” What does it mean to love one another? You have got to begin with yourself. With all of the seemingly complex spiritual things you may learn, it all comes down to this simple teaching: how to offer yourself kindness. It is not selfish to do this. Rather, you must learn to be kind to yourself or you cannot be kind to anyone else.

So often I get the response, “But it’s selfish, but I need to put others first.” 

The practice of lovingkindness doesn’t make a distinction between self and other. How do we work with these dilemmas in everyday life? It may be your friend who needs you rather than your mother. It may be your house you have to take care of rather than your children. You all are assaulted in your daily life by an ongoing chain of needs.

There’s a beautiful Buddhist sutra, the metta sutra (the word metta simply means lovingkindness). The Buddha begins it by describing the wise being. He says, I’ll recite the beginning of it to you, “This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness and who knows the path of peace. Let them be able and upright, straightforward and gentle in speech, humble and not conceited,” and so forth. 

Then he comes to “unburdened with duties.” That’s a funny qualification. What does it mean to be unburdened with duties? Was the Buddha saying that this was somebody who should have no responsibilities? Or even further, is irresponsible? One who just tosses everything away and walks out? I don’t find that to be so. Unburdened with duties means that he has duties and they are not a burden.

When you are deeply caught in the small ego self, “Me. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to take care of the work and the clients and the children and the house and the marketing and the care and my mother,” the human feels overwhelmed and all the more so because she or he has not acknowledged the pain with kindness. When there’s a pain voiced, this controlling aspect of the self just says willfully, “Shut up! Be stoic!” Many of you learn how to be stoic. You learn how to cope with your life, but there’s no love and no joy in it. And the love and joy that could be there are buried under this stoicism which separates you from yourself. 

If you cannot feel your pain, you cannot feel your joy.


Evenings with Aaron, February 16, 2000
For the full transcript:

Barbara Brodsky is the founder and guiding teacher of Deep Spring Center for Meditation and Spiritual Inquiry. She is a trance channel for Aaron. Deep Spring Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Please consider making a donation to continue supporting this work at DeepSpring.org.
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