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.