Tag Archives: compassion

Contrasts, Opposites, A Rainbow of Differences

Dean Evenson rainbowAh life, so full of opposites and apparent contradictions. It’s been quite a week with some good news that love prevails and other extremes of tragedy mixed with displays of hope. How can we reconcile the differences in our world?  We know that contrasts exist in life, but usually that does not mean that one is good and the other bad. Black-White, Us-Them, Male-Female, Push-Pull, Up-Down, Hot-Cold. These sorts of opposites occur and give energy to our existence.  They enhance the rich, biodiversity of the multi-colored rainbow of our human ecosystem. They serve a purpose, create tension and release, and describe a situation. Other opposites such as Love and Hate do present values that we best pay attention to before they get out of hand. It is clear to me that Love as a practice is much more desirable and helpful to the life process than its opposite. My sweet husband, Dean Evenson, always says ‘Love is practical’ and of course love typically yields more satisfactory results than animosity.  However, since Hate is present in our world, we get to deal with it as well.

Why would a person not want to love? What obstacles stand in the way of one’s being able to love?  Fear is certainly one thing that can block the progress of love. Another antithesis to love is low self-esteem.  Healthy self-esteem is about self-love without which it is difficult to carry on in the world. However when one feels insecure or unsafe, there is often a defensive reaction that arises which looks for the ‘other’ to blame for one’s condition and that other is often someone who is different from us.

Trouble can arise when the object of blame is a group of people or entire race or religion.  Someone with this mindset may ‘act out’ their frustration in antisocial ways especially if they are fed more negativity by their peers that fuels their emotions. The problems can magnify even more if that mentally unstable person should have access to a gun or a ‘weapon of mass destruction.’  Now you might think that such a weapon would be something like a bomb with highly destructive powers, but as we saw during the tragic events of September 11, a simple box cutter can become a weapon of mass destruction when used in the wrong hands.

Pastor and former police officer, Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, tries to address the core causes of the issue in his post: Five Steps to Stop Gun Violence in America. His first suggestion is to “Reach out to young people – especially those who express feelings of being alienated, isolated, or disenfranchised – and those who need mentoring, encouragement, and opportunities to break out of cycles of despair, hate, rage and frustration. Provide that guidance – a “hand up” for success.”

We live in a society that feeds on divisiveness. The flame of conflict is fanned in news media and corporate competition.  But there is an antidote to this discordant, dysfunctional society and it is love and compassion.  And yes, even forgiveness as those family members of the Charleston church massacre victims offered to the young man who had shot their loved ones. We need to look around in our families and communities and notice those who feel disenfranchised and alienated, notice them and connect with love and compassion.

We hope that guns, knives or boxcutters do not fall into the hands of mentally unstable people. It is the anti-social person with the weapon that pulls the trigger. With the recent killings in the Charleston church, my daughter posted on Facebook – “Let’s focus on becoming better people and being a better example for peace & love. And my momma raised me to think “what would Jesus do” way before it was a catch phrase. Be kind. Be an example of kindness. Be compassionate.”

*If the news gets you down and you need some support to lift your spirit – go to our Free Downloads page and grab an mp3 of Soundings of the Planet’s relaxation music. Our gift to bring more peace into the world!

We Are What We Think

Buddha gardenI am not a Buddhist but the words here are so inspiring and relevant for modern times and our busy lives and busy minds.  See if you can get through this long poem and let me know if it resonates with you…

Choices From the Dhammapade translated by Thomas Byron

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
“Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.
“Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.
In this world, hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.
You too shall pass away.
Knowing this, how can you quarrel?
How easily the wind overturns a frail tree.
Seek happiness in the senses,
Indulge in food and sleep,
And you too will be uprooted.
The wind cannot overturn a mountain.
Temptation cannot touch the man
Who is awake, strong and humble,
Who masters himself and minds the dharma.
If a man’s thoughts are muddy,
If he is reckless and full of deceit,
How can he wear the yellow robe?
Whoever is master of his own nature,
Bright, clear and true,
He may indeed wear the yellow robe.
Mistaking the false for the true,
And the true for the false,
You overlook the heart
And fill yourself with desire.
See the false as false,
The true as true.
Look into your heart.
Follow your nature.
An unreflecting mind is a poor roof.
Passion, like the rain, floods the house.
But if the roof is strong, there is shelter.
Whoever follows impure thoughts
Suffers in this world and the next.
In both worlds he suffers
And how greatly
When he sees the wrong he has done.
But whoever follows the dharma
Is joyful here and joyful there.
In both worlds he rejoices
And how greatly
When he sees the good he has done.
For great is the harvest in this world,
And greater still in the next.
However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
If you do not act upon them?
Are you a shepherd
Who counts another man’s sheep,
Never sharing the way?
Read as few words as you like,
And speak fewer.
But act upon the dharma.
Give up the old ways –
Passion, enmity, folly.
Know the truth and find peace.
Share the way.

The Dhammapada, an anthology of 423 verses, has long been recognized as one of the masterpieces of early Buddhist literature. Buddhist tradition has it that shortly after the passing away of the Buddha his disciples met in council for the purpose of recalling to mind the truths they had received from their beloved Teacher during the forty-five years of his ministry. Their hope was to implant the principles of his message so firmly in memory that they would become a lasting impetus to moral and spiritual conduct, for themselves, their disciples, and for all future disciples who would seek to follow in the footsteps of the Awakened One.