From the BlogMeet Ron


Dear friends,

It’s clear from the State of the Union address two nights ago, here in the USA, and from the many editorials written about it in the press, that we are living in a divided nation, with distrust, fear, and animosity at alarming levels. 

Many of us feel disappointment and are afraid; while others are elated and confident. One of the great challenges we face is dealing with these emotions. Our meditative path encourages us to get intimate with these emotions, rather than push them away, but how (and why?)

Traditional Buddhist practice offers us two alchemical processes so powerful some call them refuges of the heart: loving-kindness and compassion.

As meditative practices, not simply as ideals. 

These simple practices bring about a kind of alchemy that transforms parts of ourselves being we may be keeping at a distance into aspects of our being we welcome in to our heart and tend to, like a garden.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has a wonderful line:

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each person’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

Loving-kindness meditation allows us to see what’s truly good in all people and see everyone as closer to ourselves than we ever imagined. As the Dalai Lama says, everyone just want happiness and want doesn’t suffering.

Compassion sees what is difficult for others, and wishes for its release.

Loving-kindness begins with ourselves. As we begin to accept ourselves more, we have more room for the people around us. 

As we are friendlier to ourselves, we began living in a friendlier world.

We imbue in the mind simple phrases such as:

May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be at ease.

As we engage in these powerful meditative practices, we realize deep down we are not trying to create artificial mental states, but rather, we are bearing witness and trusting that these qualities of great love and great compassion are already within us.

We begin to shift from separateness, isolation and a propensity to disregard the Other Side, whichever that side is for you (which causes us to contract inside) to recognizing the truth that another’s person’s life has a lot more to do with our own own than we may presently realize.

A healing line from Rumi:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

I have gained much from reading the contemporary Franciscan author Fr. Richard Rohr, especially his wonderful book “Everything Belongs:” 

‘Your task is to find the good, the true, and the beautiful in everything, even and most especially the problematic. The bad is never strong enough to counteract the good … Within contemplation you must learn to trust your Vital Center over all the passing jerks and snags of emotions and obsessive thinking … You can achieve a peace that nothing else can give you, and that no one can take from you (John 14:27).

…The only way we ourselves can refuse to jump onto the train of life is by any negative game of exclusion or unlove—even of ourselves … Exclusion might be described as the core sin. Don’t waste any time rejecting, excluding, eliminating, or punishing anyone or anything else. Everything belongs, including you.”

And here is the alchemy: when we mindfully tend to our hearts to what may be difficult right now, regardless of which side you feel you are on – fear, disappointment, confusion – a kind of tenderness arises. 

But unless we allow ourselves to feel that tenderness, there won’t be a compassionate response to it. 

In meditation, we don’t get to choose what comes up. But we can choose to respond to it with love and compassion. 

Can we collectively do this in the weeks and months ahead, for our spiritual well-being, and the greater good?

Aloha, Tom, Katina, and the kids 

Image:Mahatma Gandhi-photographed by
Margaret Bourke-White, in Time Magazine.

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