Compassion

Compassion (karuna) is a major theme throughout Buddhist history.  In early Sanskrit it was known as “metta”  which translates into loving kindness. In the West we use the word compassion more often, but there are Western Buddhist teachers, like Jack Kornfield, who says “loving kindness” in his teachings.

I like this quote, “Our compassion is our Buddha seed or Buddha nature, our potential to become a … Buddhas give Dharma teachings motivated solely by compassion for others.

It reminds me to be kind to others without expecting anything in return. If someone needs help and I can help them, then the compassionate thing to do, is help them.

Being of service is something I enjoy. I like feeling needed and I know I just wrote I should be kind without expecting anything in return, but the way I see it, there’s nothing wrong with feeling good about doing something good. A Buddhist teacher will probably disagree with me because my happy feeling is a sort of attachment. I agree with that, but I’m human and I like feeling happy. Don’t most of us? If I help another sentient being and I end up getting smacked in the head for my efforts, I won’t get pissed off about it. Knowing my intentions were good, is good enough for me whatever the outcome. Wait.. maybe that isn’t attachment. I just wrote that I would feel good no matter what. That’s non-attachment. Right? Maybe I could use some more time meditating about that.

There’s another compassion, Buddhism teaches and that’s to practice loving kindness to beings who (I think) are assholes. That one I have a harder time with. When I have a conversation with someone who rubs me the wrong way; they’re a grumpy ass or they say mean things about certain groups of people, I find it hard to think kind thoughts about them.

For example: In an earlier post I wrote about one of my neighbors who lives with his elderly mother. I didn’t give the guy a name in that post, so to make it easier, I will now. Let’s call him Bob. Bob is around sixty and his mom must be pushing eighty. She has heath issues and if Bob didn’t live with her, she’d probably be living in a state-run retirement home. No fun for sure. So Bob makes sacrifices to keep his mother happy. Bob sleeps on the sofa. There are two bedrooms in their mobile home but his mom sleeps in one and the other is her art studio. Needless to say, Bob has no space or room to call his own. As for privacy, the only privacy he has is inside his truck. That would make anyone cranky. I can feel compassion for him about his living situation.

The problem and I know it’s my problem, is that I attach my happiness on his mood. I can choose to avoid him and that’s what I’ve been doing for a couple months now. I used to walk my dogs on the road by his home. Now we go another way. But by avoiding him, aren’t I missing the opportunity to practice my Buddhist belief?  If he’s outside when we walk by and he sees us and stops me to talk or as I see it… talk at me, I can choose to see him differently. He may tell me he’s upset about those gays or those liberals or whatever FOX news told him to be angry about and I can understand that he isn’t angry about any of that. He’s angry about his life and his living situation. It’s easier to complain about things going on “out there” than to say how he’s really feeling. Only a few times has he complained about his mother and that was about her finding more chores for him to do.

Instead of feeling my anger bubble up as he’s talking “at” me, I can choose to feel compassion for his living situation. Its easier for me to do it later when I meditate on it, but as it’s happening in real-time, not so much. I never get into an argument with him but I am known to say something sarcastic which comes out as a joke, but really isn’t. It would be nice for me to remember that his harsh words are coming from a place of pain and that’s where I would like to focus my compassion. That’s where I can practice being a Bodhisattva instead of a smart ass.

Choosing to respond in loving kindness to difficult people is hard. It takes practice. Lots of practice. But it is something I am willing to work on.

Namaste.

Ingebird

 

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Five Reasons to Meditate: Lion’s Roar Interview With Pema Chödrön

Photo by Liza Matthews.

 

“Yes, it’s a strange thing to do — just sit there and do basically nothing. Yet the simple act of stopping, says Pema Chödrön, is the best way to cultivate our good qualities. Here are five ways meditation makes us better people”. Read more here.

 

I’ve been meditating for about 8 years now and there are times I still lose my shit. It happened just the other day when I was driving and this crazy woman was in her car behind me, tailgating me, then flashing her headlights and finally honking her horn. It was the honking that put me over the edge. I unleashed a tirade of cuss words that would make a sailor blush….and hubby who was in the passenger seat and unaware of this woman’s actions behind us, said, “I guess all that meditating is really paying off.” I immediately saw how absurd my behavior was and how I allowed this woman’s erratic behavior suck me into her drama. I let my anger go and laughed about it. Before I learned about meditation, I would have stewed about what happened for hours but now I get over my anger more quickly.

Namaste,

Ingebird

Strangers tend to tell me their life stories (and problems) within minutes of meeting me. Friends can do the same and I used to give them advice but a wise person told me, “words don’t teach, life experience does.” So now I listen (sort of) and say I’m sorry to hear that…then I am on my way. As an empath, I can absorb their energy and leave the conversation feeling zapped. while the other person feels better. (The same thing happened when I was a massage therapist. My client felt great and I had their aches and pains. I learned to ground myself before each session and that problem was solved). As for what some call “holding space” I learned that I need to take care of myself first and the best thing for me is to listen and remain detached (Buddhism taught me this). If someone sees me as someone to constantly vent to, I learned to stop spending time with them and not feel guilty. It’s normal to have problems from time to time but there are those whose lives are nothing but continuous drama. I do think drama can become a form of addiction.

Namaste,

Ingebirds

This morning I woke up grouchy. I’ve done this before but this time I decided to look at my behavior. While doing my morning chores which starts with taking care of and feeding my furbabies, I tried to change my negative energy. It didn’t work very well, so instead I observed my thoughts. They are only thoughts, I told myself. It’s funny how one negative thought will remind me of another and before I know it, I am remembering things that irritated me years ago that have nothingg to do with what’s happening right now.

As the morning progresses, I decided to go with the flow. I’m grumpy, I told myself because its hot…again. It was probably 85 degrees in my house and it was only 9 o’clock. I don’t have air conditioning but I do have a box fan, so I focused on that and was grateful to have it. There are plenty of people living in hotter climates than mine who don’t even have the luxury of a box fan. From there I gave thanks for living in a house that has clean running water and I have two refrigerator/freezers that stores fresh food, I can eat anytime I want. There are people who do not eat everyday because they cannot afford to.

My mood started to change. I listened to one of my guided meditation videos and after a while, I felt my heart soften. My mood was changing and i felt like my old self. I really am a happy person so when I feel negative emotions, I REALLY feel them. I don’t like it and I don’t like my grumpy behavior.

As I write this, I feel better. There isn’t anything I can do about the weather but I can do what I can to stay cool (both physically and mentally).

Today will be a good day and I am grateful to be alive to experience it.

Namaste,

Ingebird

Do You Want to be Right or Kind?

photo credit: rawayurveda.com

Has anyone else noticed how much fighting goes on in social media these days? It got so bad that I turned off my news feed notifications and unfriended a few people who wrote endless angry posts (I did not know them personally so I didn’t feel bad about it). For the most part social media is a good thing. I have learned so much from bloggers and websites about health and Buddhism and spirituality. If it weren’t for social media I would have no idea how many inspiring people are out there.
Before FaceBook I got my information from the library. If i liked an author like, Dr. Wayne Dyer, I would buy the book from a brick-and-mortar bookstore. I still buy books old school but there are online writers who don’t publish and the only way I can follow them is online.
While this is one of the upsides to socia media there is an obvious downside (and I won’t even get into the amount of “misinformation” floating around). I’m talking about the mean stuff that some people post or comment on. Yes, the mainstream media probably plays a big part in creating fear and anger but it is us (me and you) who don’t have to buy into their manipulation. There are over seven billion people on this beautiful planet and there are almost as many different opinions. I believe in free speech, even if I don’t like what’s being said. I have the choice to listen or not. I have a choice to argue or be kind.
Let’s be honest, are we ever in “listening mode” when we are in a heated argument? Does the disagreement ever get resolved when both parties are pissed off? Isn’t it better to take a breath before we speak and ask ourselves “Is what I am about to say (write) kind?” and go from there.