I’m in trouble at work. My manager is unhappy. You’re working too many hours; when your shift is over, I want you to go home and live your life. Ten years ago I vowed “to be of service,” which later became “To save all sentient beings.” What better place to pursue such noble intentions than at a hospice, where the need for loving-kindness never ends. And it’s all there, in this Buddhist prayer:
May I become at all times, both now and forever,
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need.
What a paradox: I vow to do all that while knowing that it’s an impossible undertaking. Once more I’m reminded of the temptation to see things as either/or. Reminded also of the Middle Way, the Buddha’s path of moderation away from extremes.
Here then is my prescription for the next week: Do your best in every moment, then rest. Get up again, pay attention to your breath, listen to your heart, look at a flower, eat the best chocolate … and do your best to serve others, then rest again. With every step, do no harm, do good, aim to alleviate suffering … and include yourself as one of the beings requiring loving attention. That should keep you occupied. Ah!