With so much change and the ground falling away beneath our feet, darkness and the possibility of destruction loom large. BUT so does the potential for waking up, for coming out of this liminal moment more aware, more engaged, more open, more compassionate. We may feel overwhelmed, but we can also get to work. Hope is manifest through the work of people who refuse to stop loving.
Bows of gratitude for the heroic bodhisattva, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for fighting for justice and us for so long. It was never her burden to bear to save us from what we are going through or what may be ahead. However, her bravery and bold spirit of resilience can serve as an inspiration and motivation for us to engage fully with what is happening, and put our own brave and bold spirit of resilience into action.
rather than merely some romantic expression or light sentiment, love is a prime agent of transformation and change. love is both the fuel and the vehicle (we call compassion). this love is found in our hearts. our work, is to keep our hearts open through all the experiences in this life, so that love can be free and flow. this is work. hard work. brave work. dirt beneath the nails kind of work and we begin with ourselves.
I read once that transformation comes from either great suffering or great love. the world has enough pain and loss, and our minds in relationship to these create enough suffering, so we don’t need to contribute to suffering. our role is to contribute to love and life being loved. our work is keeping our hearts open and helping others to do the same.
genuine transformation and lasting change happens at the heart level. our hearts, our family’s hearts, our community’s hearts, our nation’s hearts, our world’s hearts.
not everyone is ready or willing to do the work on themselves, so pain continues, suffering continues. that’s ok. we who are ready and willing, do the work. the work is never really done, but we continue because the work is worthy in and of itself. by its very nature, the work of love is worthy.
an additional point: we don’t wait for everyone’s hearts to change so harm ends. while we do the work of keeping our hearts open, of embodying love, to allow love to flow, to benefit others and bring about genuine transformation and change, we can still put pressure on elected officials to enact policies that benefit and do not harm, we can still advocate through nongovernmental organizations to bring about benefit and ending harm. those actions are also actions of love, and voting can also be an act of love.
let’s do the work. the world needs it, life depends on it.
for me the foundation of Buddhist wisdom is an awareness of our interdependence. we do not exist in a vacuum, as an independent “self.” we exist, because other life exists. without the elements, without the sun, the rain, minerals, our parents, those who support us in a myriad of ways (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually), we would not be here in this form as this “me” or have this life as we have it now. waking up to this can give rise to great humility and gratitude. and in waking up to this, we can see the value in all life around us, treating all life with reverence – because we are that life and that life is us, there is no separation.
is this so different from Jesus’ words in Mark, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”?
the inequity and injustice we see, the individual and structural racism we see, the lack of empathy we see, the rhetoric of aggression we see, the incitement of violence we see are all evidence of our failure in recognizing our interdependence and loving our neighbor as ourself.
not just because of the horrific events that I woke up to 19 years ago on September 11th and the sadness that still lingers, but because we still appear to have learned so little from that experience – an experience, that should be noted, happens elsewhere in the world and at times on a greater scale.
immediately after that tragic day the world outstretched its arms to us and our nation opened our hearts to each other. nearly 3000 people lost their lives that day and now as many people lose their lives every 3-5 days during this pandemic, yet people refuse to wear masks. where did the empathy go? in the years that have followed we’ve lost tens of thousands of our troops in ongoing wars that were a response to the tragic events of that day. and now, in the past 7 months we’ve lost nearly 200,000 people due to a pandemic, yet people refuse to wear masks and we have a preventable failure of leadership from the top. where did the empathy go?
it seemed on that day that our hearts opened and we relearned empathy and compassion. even in the horror of that tragedy, there was a glimmer of hope. 19 years later we are living through increased division, rage, hate and cruelty from the highest office, where we are also seeing white nationalism and conspiracy cults like QAnon embraced.
we say “never forget” yet it seems we have failed to remember, failed to remember our initial unity, our empathy, our compassion even amid the horror of that day.
caught up in fear, we give rise to selfish individualism, anger, aggression and hate. these feed division and opportunity for unscrupulous people in power.
if we truly want to honor the victims of 9/11, the lives lost since, and our humanity, we must reject ideologies of division, lies, aggression, cruelty and hate we are bearing witness to and perhaps participating in.
may truth, open-heartedness, empathy, and compassion prevail.