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my heart goes out to dick cheney

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O no, it doesn’t. This morning NPR reported that former US Vice President Cheney was admitted to hospital. This isn’t the first time he’s sought medical care for his heart condition, we were told: after five heart attacks over the years a built-in defibrillator now helps regulate his body’s rhythm. All in all a sad story, one that would make anyone’s heart open with compassion. Yet as I listened, anything BUT filled my heart; my dislike for this man runs deep.

In 2006, during a training program for end-of-life care practitioners, Ram Dass spoke to us via satellite from Hawaii where he’s lived since being “stroked.” One of the things he talked about — and which I’m reminded of this morning — was his home altar. It holds several pictures: my spiritual teacher, my parents, and … G.W. Bush and Saddam Hussein. [The latter was at that time the Bush administration’s enemy du jour.

The purpose of the Saddam photo, Ram Dass explained, is to remind me to practice compassion not only for people I care for and love, but also the ones I dislike and have little liking for. That’s were the rubber of loving kindness hits the road.

Sitting in meditation I hold Mr. Cheney’s image in my mind’s eyes, breathe into my heart space, and gently offer the three-phrase metta prayer — first for my/self and then for him, his family, and all who’re taking care of him:


May he be free from fear.
May he be at ease.
May he be happy

As today unfolds, my intention is to monitor my own heart as it expands and contracts in relation to the people I hold dear and those I find difficult to like. May all beings be happy.


5 responses »

  1. I did the same thing for George W. the last 3 years of his administration. I finally got tired of being part of a “peace movement” that was all about hating the people in power, and decided that true peace can only occur if we can learn to have compassion for everyone, even as we actively oppose some of those people’s destructive actives.

    Glad you shared this.

  2. Yes!
    Thanks for this one too, Peter.
    It reminded me that years ago, I kept a picture of Bin Laden on my computer at work.
    It showed him as a young seminarist.
    The face seemed to me to show intelligence, curiosity, intensity, sensuality and great vulnerability.
    The picture reminded me that there was more to him than the spin doctors allowed.
    And to me.

  3. Thanks for this reminder. It’s easy to hold dearly the ones we love, like or find neutral. The smell of burning rubber definitely fills the air when we meet those we find difficult. This is where the real work is.

  4. yes, I am facing this at the moment as I try to deal with an unscrupulous car dealer who has sold me a faulty car and won’t do anything about it, it has been going on for 4 months now…. very difficult to feel compassion towards him… I am trying to imagine what in his life has led him to be like this and to remember that he was once an innocent child, relatively untainted by the things of the world which can result in such behaviour… a work in progress….

  5. Thanks for this great post! I had a very similar experience in meditation a few years back, working with forgiveness and love for G.W. Bush. I agree with Ram Dass — those you dislike and find difficult are your edge. A little bit of progress there yields great gains for your heart.


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