"My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans." These are the opening lines of the song of Thich Nhat Hanh's poem "Call Me By My True Names". Today it seems to speak directly to me.
In the midst of so much that is just plain hard there is so much beauty and kindness to be found too. I close my eyes in meditation and am beset with an onslaught of panic at all the "could happens" in my life, fear of future discomfort and pain for myself and those I love, and shame that I am just not living up to my ideals of practicing loving kindness and compassion, not even close. Keep breathing...
I am aware, as my dharma teacher reminds, that it is impossible to practice compassion for others until we can hold the same for ourselves. Why is that such a challenge? Habit energy of many years would be the obvious answer. So I sit with that and breathe in for all beings who are experiencing the same sense of failure and breath out the sense that we are nonetheless worthy and good-enough.
I subscribe to a daily email lojong teaching. In today's lesson Alan Wallace says "When we start to belittle ourselves for our own faults, recognize that they are simply afflictions obscuring our own essential purity and our capacity for full awakening. These temporary distortions are not who we are, and we do have the means for overcoming them. This is what Buddhadharma is all about: the dispelling of distortions and obscurations." Back to the 4 Noble Truths....there is suffering and there is a way out of suffering and I can get there. Ok, I'm in...
And besides the relief that there is hope for transformation, I feel deeply grateful that the scales upon which samsara is seated seems to be just about perfectly counterbalanced by what I might once have called grace but now call the energy of the many bodhisattvas.....the people who show up to love me. One definition of bodhisattvas attributed to Longchempa is "active servants of peace..." I am blessed, and humbled, by the presence of so many in my life.
Among my bodhisattvas, most wouldn't relate to the name....my daughter wrapping her arm around my waist whispering sweet words, her best friend and his mom who raced to the hospital emergency room to make sure we were all alright, my mom calling to offer to pick up a tea kettle because I'd mentioned I need one, extended phone time with my spiritual director and dharma teacher, the headmaster of my daughters school phoning to say he was available to help in any way he could, flowers from the school staff and faculty, flowers from my co-workers, a check in the mail from a friend whose husband is not working saying "Chinese are not subtle in the ways they show love...they send cash!", a gift card to Trader Joes from a co-worker with the message "Dinner's on me", and the many many phone calls and emails of concern and encouragement and just listening, allowing me to tell the stories until they are really told. I take refuge...
Indeed, servants of peace.
See you out there.
Authentic Kindness of the Heart