Monthly Archives: May 2010

Compassion

compassion

Once you’ve seen the face of god,
You see that same face on everyone you meet.

The true god has no face. The true Tao has no name. But we cannot identify with that until we are of a very high level of insight. Until then, the gods with faces and the Tao with names are still more worthy of veneration and study than the illusions of the world.

With long and sincere training, it is possible to see the face of god. Holiness is not about scientific objectivity. It is about a deep and clear recognition of the true nature of life. Your attitude toward your god will be different than anyone else’s god — divinity is a reflection of your own understanding. If your experience differs from others, that does not invalidate your sense of godliness. You will have no doubts after you have seen.

Knowing god is the source of compassion in our lives. We realize that our separation from others is artificial. We are neither separate from other people not from Tao. It is only our own egotism that leads us to define ourselves as individuals. In fact, a direct experience of god is a direct experience of the utter universality of life. If we allow it to change our ay of thinking, we will understand our essential oneness with all things.

How does god look? Once you see god, you will see that same face on every person you meet.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.
— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. — William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao.
— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 8

When I strike you,
your blood will certainly flow from my veins.
When you are starving,
your bloated belly is gnawing into my flesh.
The laughter in your eyes
lights up mine.
I can see my face in yours.
Can you see yours in mine?

— The Tao is Tao, 97

The courage
to show compassion
comes from
the acceptance of
emptiness.

— The Tao is Tao, 15

My greatest problem with becoming truly compassionate is letting go of my own ego. I can be compassionate towards others, but I make the mistake of expecting compassion in return. I need to learn to accept that others are not always compassionate, that they will not show me the same courtesy that I show to them, and be ok with that.I forgive others for their transgressions towards me, but others have not forgiven me, and yet, I must still feel compassion for them. My sadness these days is that they cannot open their own hearts enough to forgive, cannot let go of their prejudices. But, Tao teaches acceptance, and acceptance of others own hardness is one of the most difficult things to feel compassion towards.

It is the problem I see in America today. Those who claim compassion also shout for war, and the death penalty, and intolerance of others actions. How can they be like this? If they believe in compassion, they must feel it towards all others, not just those that agree with them and that they like, or those who they see as thinking the same way they do and believing in the same religion. For the sake of their version of heaven, they are willing to put the rest of us in hell. That is not compassion, that is hypocrisy.

And yet…. I must show compassion for them, and not judge them, and understand them and care about them in spite of how they act. This is difficult, but it must be done. Otherwise, I become the hypocrite that I detest.

Compassion, true compassion, is indeed a difficult thing, until we accept that all are one.

(originally posted in 2005, last posted in 2008. Sadly I feel the need to post it again today, in light of the news.)

Complete

I no longer dream of having someone to complete me.
I dream of someone to be completely with…

“A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it.”
— Scott Allen

“To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.”
— Epictetus

“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” — Terry Tempest Williams

“Individuals we consider happy commonly seem complete in the present and we see them constantly in their wholeness: attentive, cheerful, open rather than closed to events, integral in the moment rather than distended across time by regret or anxiety.” — Robert Grudin

“A miracle is nothing more or less than this. Anyone who has come into a knowledge of his true identity, of his oneness with the all-pervading wisdom and power, this makes it possible for laws higher than the ordinary mind knows of to be revealed to him.” — Ralph Waldo Trine

“Love is the outreach of self toward completion.” — Ralph W. Sockman

“The little dissatisfaction which every artist feels at the completion of a work forms the germ of a new work” — Berthold Auerbach

Spontaneous Treats

“Dogs come to quantum physics in a better position than most humans. They approach the world with fewer preconceptions than humans, and always expect the unexpected…If dog treats appeared out of empty space in the middle of a kitchen, a human would freak out, but a dog would take it in stride. indeed, for most dogs, the spontaneous generation of treats would be vindication — they always expect treats to appear at any moment for no obvious reason.”

— “How to Teach Physics to Your Dog” by Chad Orzel

Well, of course — if dogs ruled the world, bones would rain from the sky! And the world might be a better place..

Gate to all mystery

“At the source of our deepest self is a mysterious unknown ever eluding our grasp. We can never possess it except as that mystery which keeps at a distance. The heart’s quest is toward this unknown. There is no respite in the task of getting beyond the point we have already reached because the Spirit stands further on. She stands at the end of every road we may wish to travel by. The entire movement of our being seems to focus in this single point of identity, which will be realised in the encounter. We never ‘catch up with’ who we fundamentally are.”

The Feminist Mystic -Meinrad Craighead via sacredgraffiti

The people of old saw wells as gateways to the spirit world where the veils between human existence and the greater spirit become thinner, and communications could take place with the gods and goddesses of the nature religions. That this ‘old well’ has the purest and coldest of waters shows that wisdom and nourishment has not diminished over time. There is always a plentiful supply for those who draw on the well with the right attitude and with sincerity. — Lynda Hill

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The named is the mother of the ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery….
– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 1

The valley spirit never dies;
It is the woman, primal mother.
Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.
It is like a veil barely seen,
Use it; it will never fail.

– Tao Te Ching, 6

There is a point where in the mystery of existence contradictions meet; where movement is not all movement and stillness is not all stillness; where the idea and the form, the within and the without, are united; where infinite becomes finite, yet not” — Rabindranath Tagore

The mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write. . . .” — William Butler Yeats

New Puppy, New Toys

It always amuses me to see how new technology plays into our lives, and the things that we end up focusing on using different tools. With a new puppy in the house, I’ve had less time for my more serious contemplative thinking and blogging, and have turned to the lightweight tools of Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook which I can enjoy and play with in a few moments of time rather than long uninterrupted blocks of thought time. And I use Google Reader to keep up with all the hundreds of blogs I read.

You would think I might do similar things with all these tools, but no, they end up being very different sorts of creatures. On Tumblr, I’m enjoying a mix of gorgeous photography, humorous posts, and short inspirational quotes and writings. On Twitter, I’ve ended up following neighborhood restaurants that feature organic and local foods, and my favorite craft brewers, as well as friends around the world, news personalities abd news aggregators, and also some inspirational quotes and writings. On Facebook it’s a mix of high school and political friends and blog friends. My blog posts feed into my Tumblr account, my Tumblr feeds my Twitter account, and it all flows into Facebook eventually. So I guess I maintain some sense of connection. My Google Reader shared posts are available from a tab on my blog or in the Google Reader share that my friends read.

And all of this fits into the theme I developed for this year of being open to change, open to new things, and opening up myself to new media, new experiences, new circumstances. My deepest communications this year have been reconnections with old friends, bringing these long term relationships into new arrangements. I’ll be spending a week in Hawaii soon with one of my oldest and dearest girlfriends from high school and our husbands, But the new is here as well — with the new puppy, new toys, new ways of talking with old friends. We’re redoing our front yard, making it more drought-tolerant, upgrading the landscaping with new walls and steps, more structure but using less of more precious resources like water, and restoring native plants to the space.

Restructuring and repurposing our own lives has become ever more important in a world of rapidly changing communication and technology. Finding the balance of the new and making room for it with the old seems to be the major focus of my life right now.

Getting along and going along

There is every possibility your life is destined for something you don’t know anything about at all.

There is every possibility that you aren’t always right.

There is every possibility your ego is completely misleading you as to what you really want in your life, what your heart knows you need.

If you stop fighting the tides of your life, and enjoy whatever happens, life gets a lot easier. This doesn’t mean just giving in to what happens, it means moving with it, maintaining your plans and dreams for the future while recognizing the reality that it may not always go just as you pictured it, or happen right when you want things to happen.

When you decide to move with life, though, rather than fight it, things suddenly become much simpler and you’ll find a flow to your life that is amazing. Stop fighting yourself and your own pace, stop trying to speed up other people or slow them down, stop hurrying your kids to grow up or wanting other people to change. You can no more stop the snow in the winter than you can the blazing heat of summer, you can only change your location or your attitude about snow or heat, or adjust your surroundings and circumstances to deal with them.

If you can accept what is, completely, then you are in the position to change it if you need to, sometimes just simply by changing your attitude towards it. Once you stop seeing someone else or something else as difficult, and realize the difficulty is within you, then you can begin to deal with it and come to terms with it.

When you decide to work with others to accomplish their goals and plans, your own become less important. And suddenly, your ideas become more important to others; since you are cooperating with them, they will cooperate with you, and everyone’s life flows more easily. It is when we fight against other’s desires and plans that we run into trouble. When someone else sees you as a normally cooperative person, then when you do object to something, it is even more powerful. If you always object no matter what, then you’re just seen as difficult, and people won’t listen to you.

But mostly you have to be yourself, you have to be genuine. When others see you as coming from your heart, they will pay attention. If you can give advice out of love, rather than in an attempt to control, it will have a greater impact. If you can lead with your strengths, with your deepest wisdom and your heart rather than from your fears or your ego, people around you will grow and change.

And so will you.

Opening the Door

A man meets his life most poignantly in moments of painful contraction and expansion. At those moments he senses the difference between being present and being taken. If he keeps himself open to the question, he will move in what he believes is a fruitful direction.

Many roads will beckon: art, studies, perhaps drugs – other pursuits. He may not find the answer to his fundamental question but he senses that a reality is escaping him; perhaps that something within himself can change existence. Maybe he has a fleeting feeling while listening to a passage of music, or is struck by a word, by nature. Perhaps some flash appears in the midst of love, of sorrow, or joy – a moment of ah…! Something is here, strange, wondrous.

And at that moment, a door opens. He may or may not go further. The chances are that the pull of gravity will close the door. He will be shut away from his ever-present possibility. Back to the office and workplace, to vacations, to family, to having a good time/bad time, getting and spending. The door may never open again –- or will it?

— From William Segal, “Openings”

It is only when the doors of a home are open that clean air flows in, guests come to visit, and the melodious sounds of bird song float in.

A person’s mind is like a great house. Those who keep their minds closed cut themselves off from the life-giving vitality of Tao. Conversely, those who want Tao open themselves to it and so find an influx of great energy.

The two leaves of each person’s door are ignorance and selfishness. The ignorant think they know everything, and so they are not open to anything new. The selfish cannot think beyond themselves, and so they do not have the farsighted qualities needed to understand Tao. The wise open their doors wide and let the vitality of Tao flow freely.

— Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” — Flora Whittemore

“When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” — Joseph Campbell