Compassion doesn’t only mean stopping wars, feeding the hungry or ending the AIDS crisis. Compassion in its most simple form is our human ability of for a moment being able to step into someone else’s shoes and understand their dilemma.
In 2007, when I first walked into the infusion center at Cedars Sinai Medical Center with my late husband, I was taken by fear. I looked around to the 30 – 40 people there all hooked up to a bag containing chemicals strong enough that signs were posted in the bathrooms asking patients to flush twice. Chris and I looked for two seats together and waited for a nurse to come and hook him up as well.
Immersed in my pain, I turned my face away from Chris because of the tears running down my face. I didn’t want him to see them. A woman sitting next to a man getting his infusion got up, picked up a tissue and without saying a word handed it to me.
”The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
I’m one of those people whose natural tendency is to see the world as black and white. I’m right then you must be wrong. I’m good then you must be bad.
I have had to work hard within my own psyche to see the world as it is; grey and messy.
Living life in black and white mode causes a lot of unnecessary suffering. If we are good and right then when wronged it is easy for us to feel 1 – that the whole world is against us, 2 – as a victim.
We are neither a victim nor the whole world is against us. Other people are too busy trying to make sense of their own lives.
When we lose a partner one of the things we also lose is a sense of belonging. We go from being a team to being an individual. Sometimes we can even feel disoriented like everyone else has a place to go to except us. Or that the world is spinning fast and we can barely keep our balance.
This phase happens when we start stepping back into the world. When we feel we would like to see what else is in the world for us. This is a delicate time because being frightened can send us into a shell.
During this time it is important to realize 1 – Life as it was is over, and 2 – We have decided to fully experience life again.
Don’t worry about not remembering our loved ones that are no longer here. We will always remember. We will always love. And we will always miss. But all in a different way. All giving space to love again. Because that is what life is: love, resilience, wisdom, experience.
So when you feel off balance take a deep breath and stop thinking. Go back within and tell yourself you are okay. Tell yourself one step at a time.
Over the weekend I came across this letter Yoko Ono wrote back in 2007. I’m sure the only change she would make to the letter would be to add the 2 ½ years to the 27 years she wrote down.
I miss you, John. 27 years later, I still wish I could turn back the clock to the Summer of 1980. I remember everything – sharing our morning coffee, walking in the park together on a beautiful day, and seeing your hand stretched to mine – holding it, reassuring me that I shouldn’t worry about anything because our life was good.
I had no idea that life was about to teach me the toughest lesson of all. I learned the intense pain of losing a loved one suddenly, without warning, and without having the time for a final hug and the chance to say, “I love you,” for the last time. The pain and shock of that sudden loss is with me every moment of every day. When I touched John’s side of our bed on the night of December 8th, 1980, I realized that it was still warm. That moment has haunted me for the past 27 years – and will stay with me forever.
Even harder for me is watching what was taken away from our beautiful boy, Sean. He lives in silent anger over not having his Dad, whom he loved so much, around to share his life with. I know we are not alone. Our pain is one shared by many other families who are suffering as the victims of senseless violence. This pain has to stop.
Let’s not waste the lives of those we have lost. Let’s, together, make the world a place of love and joy and not a place of fear and anger. This day of John’s passing has become more and more important for so many people around the world as the day to remember his message of Peace and Love and to do what each of us can to work on healing this planet we cherish.
Let’s: Think Peace, Act Peace, and Spread Peace.
John worked for it all his life.
He said, “there’s no problem, only solutions.”
Remember, we are all together.
We can do it, we must.
I love you!
Yoko Ono Lennon
8 December 2007
I like this article because it discusses the dual world we are living in today. This is the time in our history with the most amount of wars, famine, hatred and destruction. But I also feel this is the time with the greatest amount of possibilities for us to evolve and connect in a different way. While forests are being destroyed the number of people coming together from all of the world to try to stop it is huge. While there are wars and injustices the number of people caring and coming together keeps increasing. There are a number of us that see the hate but choose to find ways to embrace love. There are a number of us that after embracing people all over the world that are like minded, want to find a way to reach out to others that are not like minded a find a world we can all live in.
By John Robbins
I am someone who longs for world peace. Perhaps you are, too. But every single day our world spends more than $4 billion on war. The last hundred years have been by far the bloodiest in human history.
I support human rights and human dignity. I want every child to grow up healthy and strong. No doubt you do, too. But today, like every day, 20,000 children will die of hunger and poverty. Even in the world’s wealthiest country, the U.S., nearly 25 percent of children live below the poverty line.
I believe in upholding the brotherhood and sisterhood of all people. I believe in the inherent worth of every human being. But we live in a time of grotesque inequalities. There are shoe companies who pay famous athletes $20 million to endorse their shoes, while paying their workers only 20 cents an hour to make them. The CEOs of some companies make more money in an hour than many of the company’s employees make in a year.
Many of the world’s spiritual traditions teach that inner peace is found when you love the world as it is, rather than faulting it for not living up to your expectations. But our addictions are not only damaging our spirits, they are also causing irreparable harm to the biosphere and to humanity’s future.
I believe in holding a positive attitude toward life. But the rate at which forests are disappearing, coral reefs are deteriorating, the arctic ice cap is melting, and species are going extinct is undermining the capacity of the earth to support human life.
I draw strength from my kinship with animals. Some of my best friends have had four legs. Perhaps you, too, have had a relationship with an animal that has enriched you as a human being. But today, almost all of our meat and dairy products come from animals raised under conditions of horrific cruelty…Continued
Reaching out to people we don’t know just because we care. If we all did a little, our world would be very different for all of us.
I just came across this video. It is hard to watch but it is the truth of the world we live in. We forget how privilege we are to live in this country and as we seek happiness in all the gadgets in the world we find emptiness. Maybe reaching out and bringing a smile to a hurt face might. Happiness means meaningful acts towards ourselves and others.
Today is International Women’s Day. I have to confess I’ve never paid much attention to this day or what it meant until recently. I’ve always been aware of differences between men and women when it came to earnings or in work situations, where women have to assert themselves to survive in the “boy’s club”. But my thinking was very limited. It lived in a developed country and in a middle class environment. International Women’s Day is not about men opening doors for women or who is picking up the check, or our right to wear short skirts without being bothered. International Women’s Day is about the discrepancy between the percentage of women in the work force and the percentage of wealth we hold. It is also about our right to make decisions on how to live our lives, our rights to our bodies and education.
With all the advancements in communication and the interconnectedness of the world, we are now fully aware of how women are treated in many parts of the world and it is hard to fandom and impossible to accept. No woman should be stripped from her sexual pleasure. No woman should be made into a slave. No woman should be made into an object and every woman is entitled to an education.
I know it is a huge issue to tackle. Centuries of behavior that needs to change but we can do it; one step at a time.
Tonight, I’m one of the organizers of an event which will have a number of actors reading the writings of Afghan women who are stripped of every liberty awarded to men and are under complete control of either the Taliban or their own family. Tonight we will read their words and thus give them voice and hope the more we hear their voice the more we will empower them and us to make a change.
Let’s do something meaningful today to let the world know we care. Bringing freedom and equality to women is at the center of our survival.
The sound of expletives rising from behind a wall at the outdoor cafe where I have my morning coffee usually just means that there’s a couple rehearsing a theatrical scene, rather than any real conflict unfolding. It is LA after all, and the sense that things are not as they first seem is validated often enough in this city to become a part of one’s daily habit. It’s so that I don’t even experience a moment of alarm as the harsh words drift into earshot, just a twinge of annoyance at yet another pair of adults playing make believe.
It’s sad really, the cynicism with which I’ve come to view what is after all an art-form. In theory at least, I am in full support of both creative expression and the construction of imaginary worlds that their creators can escape into. But I ‘m as guilty as the next Angelino when it comes to harsh judgments regarding such pastimes.
I suppose there is something simultaneously superficial and enviable about these activities when viewed from the outside. The dream of being swept up on a magic carpet of creativity, of connecting with an elusive, heightened experience of aliveness, on the enviable side. The sense that the lives of the participants in these dramas have drifted off the rails somewhere along the way, that it’s all driven by wayward and hungry egos, on the darker more superficial side.
Or maybe these are all just projections and ruminations of a mind that’s crying – “I want to play too”, even though I’ve been an adult for a while now. It’s the very same impulse that would raise its voice when there was a game underway in the schoolyard, a game that I was on the outside of looking in.
So tricky, this mind with all its conflicting messages and cross-currents. When I tune in a bit and take a poll of the competing ideas, views and opinions that seem to crop up around almost any experience, it seems like a scene from the movie “Rashomon”, in which multiple witnesses to a crime deliver wildly varying accounts of how things really went down.
Which I suppose is the theme of that movie – that not only do individuals inhabit divergent realities that lead to unique versions of events, but that their minds are filled with a buffet of possible interpretations, some of which are randomly discarded, some held up as truth.
All of which leaves me with a sense that this jungle of views that buddhism describes as the normal state of the human mind should be dealt a healthy dose of skepticism. Of course that’s just another view and it seems like it might be a long way before I find my way out of the jungle, and am able to bask on the beach of enlightenment.
In the meantime I’m thinking of doing some acting.
We all would like the world to revolve around us, to deliver an uninterrupted stream of the stuff of our dreams, right to our doorstep. The world has other ideas; rather it has no ideas at all, and certainly none about the delicacies that pirouette through our imaginations. Ideas reside in the grey domain that is sequestered from reality by the skull. There they stay, forbidden to venture into the daylight, unable to walk among the living. So it’s rather fitting that a sphere of bone, that universal symbol of death, delineates the living world from that other world that is not quite dead, and not alive either, inhabiting its own, different order of reality, though I use that term loosely, maybe even paradoxically or contradictorily.
But I digress. My point is that the world has little interest in our wishes, in delivering the goods we want, and does not revolve around any known pivot, but runs in an infinite number of intricate streams that are always on the move, always in a state of transformation and flux. To describe life as an utterly unwieldy amalgamation of fluid phenomena is to make the point comprehensible, though at the cost of understatement. There are certainly times when the universe configures itself in a way that we experience as pleasurable, joyful, fun, benevolent etc. But to think that it will freeze itself into a smiling snapshot and shine rays of happiness that extend over the length of our lives is a case of wishful thinking trying to wag the world. Pleasant events unfold, and then float off into the void where our outstretched hands grasp at nothing at all.
As one interested in acquiring a more durable experience/state of peace and happiness I can’t quite relinquish the idea of getting a world that is in a state of ceaseless, eternal, and seemingly random motion to align more closely with my stated aim. It occurs to me that a pivot is by definition the single stationary point at the center of all the revolving things that inhabit its personal universe. Be still child! Make like the pivot! And by child I mean the mind of man, which is running around with its pants down most of the time, and often as not hasn’t been potty trained, so you get the scent of the picture. The only way to get the world to revolve around our lanterns, metaphorically speaking, is by cultivating a tranquil mind, a mind that watches the swirl of phenomena, the unfolding storm of events, from a state of repose whose stillness intuitively divines the patterns of the great kaleidoscopic reality moving about in our yards. A mind of this sort knows the score: that the world will never give us what we want all the time. But at least we will be watching as it disappoints us, in a state of rapture and bliss.