“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
may we be forces of love, light, and a fierce compassion to bring an end to the aggression, the harm and the suffering we are bearing witness to.
may we be mindful to manifest heaven and not hell, even as we commit to the needed and challenging work of justice, equality and healing, in the face of destruction.
may love be our refuge and resource ❤️🙏🏻
The Zen Monk and The Samurai: A Parable
A large, tough Samurai, known in all the land for his greatness, once approached a little Zen Monk who was sitting deep in meditation.
Rude and impatient, the Samurai demanded harshly, forcefully, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.”
The Zen Monk opened his eyes, looked directly into the eyes of the Samurai, and replied, “Why should I answer such a rude, shabby, disgusting slob like you? A worm like you, why I should tell you anything? Leave. I have no time for such ridiculous questions.”
The Samurai, taken back, could not bear these insults. Consumed by rage, he drew his sword and raised it to strike the Zen Monk.
The Zen Monk, looked directly into the eyes of the Samurai and calmly declared, “That is hell.”
The Samurai froze in place. He suddenly saw clearly that anger had him in its grip. He saw that his own mind had created hell. Hell was manifest in his pride, his resentment, his rage and his hate.
The Samurai’s eyes filled with tears. He dropped his sword and put his palms together and bowed in gratitude to the Zen Monk for the insight.
The Zen Monk looked directly into the eyes of the Samurai and said calmly and gently with a smile, “That is heaven.”
inspired by my root teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who has a gatha (verse) and calligraphy containing the phrase, “I have arrived, I am home.”
this is a practice, a practice i am engaging (and then re-engaging) during this time.
the urge is to want to flee. there is so much to be concerned about, so much that is painful and worthy of grief, that there can be an urge to flee from the discomfort of all that is going on. it can be easier to just pay no attention. but of course, we can only flee for so long. life and all that comes with it, catches up with us eventually.
where would we flee to anyway? wherever we go, still we are right here. and right here, is where life needs us, where we can be of benefit, where we can embody the love needed in this world to bring healing and to reduce suffering.
when we say, “i am home,” we are saying that we are invested in this place, in the people, animals, life that is also here in this place and also call it home. when we say, “i am home,” we are saying we care.
we can also take comfort in the phrase, “i am home.”
home is a place where we belong, a place where we can keep our heart open and relax into the comfort love can bring. we can trust that.
home is a place of safety, of sanctuary. we can learn to practice in that and find that within the spaciousness of our own open hearts.
the practice, isn’t magic, in the way of whisking away our troubles. the practice is, however, magical in that it reveals to us what has already been given and available within us, what once seen as vulnerability begins to be seen as bravery and resilience, a bravery and resilience that can be found in the multitude of generations before us who also faced great troubles as well.
the answer to a lot of the harm and destruction we are seeing right now is – empathy.
opening our hearts to empathy, gives birth to compassion. the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes or to connect one’s own personal suffering to the suffering of others can be a practice and isn’t that difficult if we care to open our hearts to it.
a world of empathy is a world that cares about justice and equality, that cares for our fellow human beings that are actively oppressed and targeted, that cares to take precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing to keep family-friends-neighbors from getting sick, that cares for the children and parents still being separated at the border and housed in detention facilities, that cares about the huge wealth inequality leaving increasing millions in poverty and so many struggling, that cares for an environment desperately in need of help, that cares for the many species that are dying and going extinct due to climate change, that cares for the many animals horribly slaughtered in factory farming and suffering in the diary industry.
we have incredible power and potential to bring benefit and end suffering. we have the capacity to end all of these atrocities, because we have the capacity for empathy.