Saturday, January 16, 2010


As long as space and time remain
As long as sentient beings remain
Until then may I too remain
And relieve the miseries of the world.

This prayer is the Tibetan Buddhist version of the Bodhisattvas’ vow. All Mahayana Buddhists (Tibetan and Zen) are committed to what is real, namely inclusion of all beings in the Great Way. The purpose of the search and ultimate realization of the Real (Enlightenment) is the liberation from suffering for all sentient beings. Sentient means all beings with a nervous system, which are therefore capable of experiencing pain and suffering. Thus this liberation is not restricted to human beings, but includes animals, reptiles, fish, birds, and so forth. The current devastation and suffering in Haiti is truly beyond our comprehension. The pain and suffering of human beings is palpable and compelling. Rarely considered is the unimaginable suffering of other beings we share our lives with, such as household pets, domestic farm animals, and so forth. The collision of tectonic plates cannot be good for fish and other ocean dwellers either. Yet this crisis provides those of us comfortably ensconced in the United States an important opportunity to remember our essential oneness with all beings. We are neither separate from nor the same as anything whatsoever. How can we best assist those who suffer? How can we best help ourselves and our families? We may turn to the concept of skillful means. We can provide assistance at the level of money, which is obviously needed and beneficial. At the teaching on Haiti Sunday, January 24, all donations received will be forwarded to the International Red Cross Haiti relief effort. How else can we help?

In the January 24 teaching we will work on becoming increasingly aware of our internal blocks to the natural flowering of compassion, which is our true nature as human beings. In the deepest sense, compassion begins at home. I am repeatedly startled by how harsh most of us are with our imagined faults and failings. A lot of my psychotherapy time is spent helping people become more aware of the relentless self-bully in their heads. We cannot see the suffering of others until we have developed some perspective on how we create so much needless suffering for ourselves. In every moment our goal is to be fully present for what is real. Adding nothing, nothing taken away, just …this..exactly as it is.

This past week on Ebay I bought a small hand-printed Thanka with the following poem attribute to the current Dalai Lama. I do not know the source, but it seems appropriate in this context.

no matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Develop the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up
H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama

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