Time and again, we’re asked to discover, through love and suffering, that we are at heart the same. How do we come to this knowledge in our lives, in our families, and in our communities? What brings us together and what throws us apart? How do we inhabit what we have in common as well as what makes us unique in ways that deepen our daily practice of service and compassion?
When we can listen deeply and give freely, there is a natural evolution from the exploration of an inner self to the practice of care between self and other. Ultimately, the work of community is the practice of care stitching the world together.
Ours is a complicated era, and so we need every resource and example of heart and resilience we can find. It is both comforting and challenging to realize that no one person can wrestle from the Earth the song of how we can survive together, and no one voice can sing that chorus. We need each other more than ever.
many of our days are half-hearted and not so skillful in our care of each other…..
inquiry for today~ when there is no hope, there is great love…..how will we remember?
Not so long ago, I was sitting at the bedside of a woman who was dying of liver cancer. Her legs were so swollen with edema that the skin over her shins was splitting open. This was the day before she would take her last breath, although I didn’t know it at the time. She had been a close friend and had fought cancer for years. I experienced great compassion for her, referential compassion, as she was begin tossed about by confusion and pain; when I took her hand into mine and spoke softly to her, I felt the overwhelming wish to relieve her suffering. By the same token, through the lens of insight-based compassion, I was able to see her situation in terms of the truth of impermanence, that her suffering was a discrete moment in time ans was made up of non-suffering elements. I also felt deep in my heart that responding to her suffering was a moral necessity. These perspectives kept me from succumbing to empathic distress and helped me hold the space for her in a less reactive way- and finally, to be with her with greater love.
~Roshi Joan Halifax