So, first things first:
Please take a moment and make a donation to help the victims of the earthquake in Nepal, if you haven’t already done so. If you have done so, please do it again. It doesn’t matter how much you can give, but if you read here I’d be so very grateful to you if you’d do this.
The need is great, as it is every time, all over the world, again and again, ceaselessly.
Of course I was horrified when I heard about the earthquake and the terrible loss of life and the many who are now thrust into a life even more difficult and frightening than the one they’d already known. And I was heartsick at the loss and damage to the many holy sites I’d so recently returned from.
And I felt the wild and terrible scope of my own selfishness. This disaster hurt. I am not really ashamed at my selfish stance, (although I am ashamed of it) it’s just that I am faced with it so directly that I can feel the discomfort- my own view of myself has been shown, once more, to be more charitable than is warranted. I’m not quite as good as I give myself credit for.
Not by a long shot.
I’m learning, though. Slowly by slowly, I’m taking in the suffering of others with genuine openness and a desire to see that suffering ameliorated. I meditate and pray for an end to suffering. At first, I thought that it was just something to do as a good Buddhist practitioner- that changing my thoughts to charity and helping others, putting others before myself, all that, that although it had no actual effect out in the world, it was good for me, in my own brain, in my own skin, and would work to make changes in me that were beneficial.
And mostly that’s true.
But I know that there are a lot of monks and meditators who do this “work” of compassion who actually do make a difference. I mean, it’s very obvious when you’re around that kind of person, that kind of energy- I’ve experienced it directly. So that makes me think that maybe it actually does have a direct benefit, too, what I’m doing. In my small way.
I’ll keep doing it, not knowing the answer.
Maybe that’s a good way to proceed.
This world has me by the ears. It’s shaking me back and forth, shouting into my face, showering me with abundant, wild, unimaginable beauty while it kicks me in the nuts and stabs me in the heart and kisses me with its flaming lips.
Like I like.
You must have it all.
This endless parade of death and disaster is the prom queen letting you get to second base in the back seat of your Dad’s car- it is kind of all the same thing at some deep and primitive level.
There’s just all this stuff happening, and it never stops. Now it’s this thing, now it’s that.
And if you don’t feel bad for all the suffering that’s going on, that’s okay, too.
You’ll be crushed under the wheel with the rest of us.
Here is a poem I wish I wrote. My wife shared it with me.
It has something in it.
Know Deeply, Know Thyself More Deeply
Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths,
love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock
molten, yet dense and permanent.
Go down to your deep old heart, woman, and lose sight of yourself.
And lose sight of me, the me whom you turbulently loved.
Let us lose sight of ourselves, and break the mirrors.
For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths
out of sight, in the deep dark living heart.
But say, in the dark wild metal of your heart
is there a gem, which came into being between us?
is there a sapphire of mutual trust, a blue spark?
Is there a ruby of fused being, mine and yours, an inward glint?
If there is not, O then leave me, go away.
For I cannot be bullied back into the appearances of love,
any more than August can be bullied to look like March.
Love out of season, especially at the end of the season
is merely ridiculous.
If you insist on it, I insist on departure.
Have you no deep old heart of wild womanhood
self-forgetful, and gemmed with experience,
and swinging in a strange union of power
with the heart of the man you are supposed to have loved?
If you have not, go away.
If you can only sit with a mirror in your hand, an ageing woman
posing on and on as a lover,
in love with a self that now is shallow and withered,
your own self–that has passed like a last summer’s flower–
then go away–
I do not want a woman whom age cannot wither.
She is a made-up lie, a dyed immortelle
of infinite staleness.
~ D. H. Lawrence
I have a friend at work whose child is very ill. His name is Emmett and he is at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. If you pray, say a prayer for him and his family. If you don’t pray, then have a good thought for them. Light a candle.
I’m making so many demands!
I love you. I hope you don’t suffer too much. I send love, compassion, and all good things your way.