“It’s not just love. Remember that everything is short. Think of it this way: Maybe this is the last cup of coffee I have. Maybe this is the last book I read. When you are constantly alert, you can really enjoy and love. Otherwise, we are always thinking about the next thing, and we can’t really feel life.”
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
our awareness of the profundity of impermanence can be transformational and revolutionary. in an instant, there is no longer anything mundane, all becomes sacred, all becomes opportunity, all becomes deeply meaningful and gratitude 🙏🏻
there’s a practice in Buddhism, where we see everything as our guru, that is to say, as our teacher. no matter what arises, with it also arises the opportunity to tap into our true nature, our Buddha-nature (awakened nature), to grow in our openness, our warm-heartedness, and our capacity to be with life as it is and respond in a sane and compassionate way. Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr, says it another way – it is all “grist for the mill”. in other words, it is all usable, all of it can align us with and unify us with the heart of God, where we already reside.
it can be challenging to look at the present moment and 2020 with gratitude. there’s been so much loss and pain. is this saying we should be grateful for the harm, for illness, for injustice and inequity, for pain and suffering? i don’t think so. rather, i believe this perspective is saying that we can be grateful for the opportunity that arises, that these challenges bring us, to open our hearts, to practice kindness and compassion, to awaken to each other’s needs, to the harm and pain, and then exercise the best of who we are in our humanity, putting our love, our compassion into beneficial action. in that regard, 2020 – the year of clear seeing, has brought us a lot to be grateful for.
today, i’m grateful to be spending Thanksgiving at home (the first time in 15 years not working on this day) quarantined with my family. my heart is also aware and holding all who are not able to do so due to the pandemic. for those who have lost loved ones, i say – you are in my heart, held with love, may the love you shared with loved ones passed, comfort you. for those who have chosen to stay home, i say – thank you for thinking selflessly, for taking this pandemic seriously, for sacrificing for your loved ones. you are not truly alone and you are loved.
as individuals we can take ownership of our own healing to transform our pain, to relieve our suffering. however, it seems to me that systemic, societal, or collective harm requires acknowledgment of the harm done and some form of accountability in order to heal. we’d rather slap a band-aid on where major surgery is needed and then move on. it may be easier, but it isn’t healing.
may we scrap the band-aids and be willing to do the difficult work needed.
as the polls close and we huddle in to watch results, please remember that whatever the outcome, there is no stopping love.
as long as there are people willing to embody love, willing to offer love, willing to serve the purpose of love and act in service of love, love continues to move through hearts, through communities, through the world, through life, and there is hope.
this doesn’t mean there isn’t harm or danger. it means that within harm and danger we can know that love still exists even within our own hearts. that love, is potential. potential for light cutting through darkness and a reason to hope.
hope is manifest through the work of people who refuse to stop loving, who refuse to be apathetic and indifferent to harm.
what does love look like?
love looks like empathy and fierce compassion. love looks like spaciousness and nonviolence. love looks like justice and equality.
when wild worldly winds swirl around us, it can be a revolutionary act and offering of dignity and love to simply sit and breathe. how else can we rise to meet suffering wholeheartedly with authenticity, if we haven’t met and befriended ourselves?
our humanity is not defined by our accumulation and consumption, by the size of our 401k or our grasping to keep it impossibly secure at all costs including the welfare and lives of others.
our humanity is defined by the quality of our heart.
is it generous?
is it open and free?
is it empathetic?
is it warm and gentle?
is it kind and compassionate?
when we are consumed with avoiding discomfort and grasping at some sense of our own well-being and security, or lost in the dullness of our indifference, our lives shrink in disconnection. our potential is much greater than the smallness of that. we have the potential to wake up to our interdependence, our shared life, and recognize the connection that already exists, and to bring benefit to it rather than suffering.
may we choose the path of open-heartedness toward ourselves, our neighbors, our earth and all life.