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return to compassion

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I apologize for yesterday’s post. I was wrong in making a causal link between political vitriolics and the events in Tuscon. I spoke from a very narrow perspective and may have contributed to the very polarization I so abhor. I briefly forgot a key Buddhist guidelines for ethical living — ‘right speech’ — which is said to help liberate us from ignorance and isolation.

In Mind in a Dew Drop, Japanese Zen teacher Dogen (1200-1253) explains how ‘kind speech’ contributes to living in harmony with all beings.

Kind speech … is contrary to cruel or violent speech …. You should be willing to practice it for this entire present life; do not give up, world after world, life after life. … You should know that kind speech arises from kind mind, and kind mind from the seed of compassionate mind …  

I felt restless all day until, during evening meditation, I tapped the source of this discomfort. Pointing out others’ flaws takes no special skills, I realized with a blush. What require skill and practice, I also realized, is to remain silent when strong emotions block clear thinking. Focusing on others’ hate speech saved me from acknowledging my own capacity for anger and ill will — it also prevented me from feeling the sadness within myself and for the people in Arizona. It insulated me, if only for part of a day, from that helplessness that arises whenever I come up against the many forms of cruelty we’re all capable of. 

image: source unknown


2 responses »

  1. I’ve found paying attention to event and the aftermath very challenging. The very public violence of this incident represents something more commonplace here in the U.S., which is deeply unsettling as a citizen of this country. And the hate filled, violent rhetoric of very public figures like Sarah Palin is part of the problem. They have influence over millions of people, and so their words and actions are more weighted than yours, mine, or others.

    However, I know that in order to help bring about a change in all of this, I have to recognize the capacity within myself for such thoughts and actions. That’s the only way to begin to develop compassion. But at some point, more of us have to publicly speak out on the vileness that’s present in public discourse. And more leaders must embody something differently. Every time something like this happens, there is a little bit of hang ringing over the media and political rhetoric, and then things slide back into the same old pattern. So, my wish is that more of us sit with that pattern for awhile, and then speak out and act differently when “the spirit” calls us.

  2. The Dalai Lama said to oppose the actions but show love for the person (in so many words).
    I believe i can take this to heart and use it in my interpersonal relationships as well as world affairs.
    I do believe it is our responsibility to speak out against these horrific actions and show to the world the love that the Dalai Lama talks about.
    For me, the greatest challenge is doing this with my interpersonal relationships.


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