An Important Lesson From a Stranger: On Loving Kindness

Last October I wrote that I would stop writing here and my posts could be found on Tumblr and Face Book. Well, for the most part I didn’t write there either. I just shared memes and pictures I found on other Buddhist/Bohemian sites. I guess I just didn’t have much to say…until today. I won’t promise I will post on a regular basis. I will say, I’ll write when I have something to say. And today I felt like writing. Here goes…

Yesterday I went to town to do errands and buy food for the week. We live in a rural area and the closest town to shop is ten miles away, which means the only human contact (besides hubby when he comes home from work) is when we go to town.

Now that I got that out of the way, I can go back to the real story I wanted to write. Hubby stopped into a shop while I waited in the car. To the left of me was a woman sitting in her car looking at her phone. (Isn’t everyone doing this these days? I never see anyone just sit and be still). As I glanced over at her for the second time I noticed another woman walking towards her car. I recognized the woman approaching the car as the same person Hubby once called “crazy.” When he called her that I asked why he thought she was and he said, “Because I see her all over town and she’s always talking to herself.”

This woman stood next to the driverside window. She didn’t say anything but she kept looking at the other woman who was still staring at her phone. She only stood there about a minute and then continued to walk…toward my car. Without hesitating I looked for something I could look at so I wouldn’t have to interract with this person. What did I find? The car registration. I kept looking at that paper, hoping she wouldn’t approach and ask for what I thought would be money. She never stopped at my car. She continued walking…and that’s when it hit me.

I felt this overwhelming sense of shame and guilt. How could I claim to practice Buddhist teachings and ignore this woman? All I knew about her is that she walks around town and talks to herself. Is she homeless? Is she hungry? The only thing I did know is that she is a sentient being who deserves compassion and respect. I turned to look at her but she disappeared among the cars in the parking lot.

Just then Hubby came back and I decided we would find her and I would give her money. It was the only thing I could think of. My voice cracked as I told Hubby what happened while he was gone. He pulled out of the parking space and less than a minute later we saw her. He stopped the car and I called to her. She came right over, a big smile on her face like she knew us. I can’t remember what I said but I gave her a ten dollar bill. She was so thankful and wanted me to wait. She wanted to give me something in return! As she searched her coat pockets she asked my name and where was I from. After a minute she gave up looking. Her pockets were empty. We chatted a few more minutes and I said I would see her later.

This woman “who talked to herself” had no trouble having a nice conversation with me. Maybe she talks to herself because she can’t find anyone willing to talk to her. I still see her warm smile and I can feel her hand squeezing mine in gratitude. That day I may have given her some money but she gave me so much more; the reminder that we are all in this life together. We all need to be seen and heard. We are all worthy of love. And to never judge someone because of what we “perceive” them to be.






Peace Begins with Me


Unless you’ve been living in a cave (or on silent meditation retreat) you know about the chaos (an understatement) that has been happening this past week in America.

An attack on our environment, our agencies meant to protect us (EPA, scientific community, The National Park Service) by stopping their free speech; removing environmental protection acts, banning Muslims from certain countries from entering the United States. There is more but it would take all afternoon to list them all.

What I want to write about is the Muslim ban and the reaction from individuals, mainly one, who considers herself a spiritual teacher and teaches classes on spiritual development. I understand how someone can get caught up in the fear mongering but someone who sees herself as an enlightened being?

Not so much.

I will not mention her name or the spiritual group she manages; there is enough hate speech going on and for me to “out” her makes me just as bad as the next hater. She is already vocal about her political views on her radio show and Face Book page. She is “outing” herself.

The way I see it, living an authentic spiritual life means questioning what is going on around me and especially questioning my response to it. There was a time (not that long ago) I lived in the same world that so many call, “the true reality.” I reacted to every thing I saw and read. I didn’t question the news or government leaders. I never thought to ask if there were ulterior motives by any of them.

Then I had a huge “aha” moment and my world perspective changed. There were mini “aha” moments through out my adult life but it was a cancer diagnosis in 2010 that changed everything. For the next year I learned a great deal about my body, how I probably got sick and about the people (agencies) who I thought were protecting us… and that led to my spiritual awakening.

It was the Buddhist teachings that spoke to me, along with other nature based spiritual teachings.

Over the next few years I questioned everything and everyone; especially my own behavior.

I know now, I am part of this Universe and every sentient being who is a part of it.

That being said. I am also aware there must be a way to help those in need in an orderly way. I do not think open borders is a good idea. Our social structure would surely collapse. I am a woman who is walking my own spiritual path, using the teachings I’ve learned so far to light my way. I certainly don’t have the answer, but there must be sane people who can come up with a compassionate solution that will benefit all.

When I started writing this, I wanted to write about how disappointed I am with this woman spiritual teacher, but as I write, I am reminded that I cannot control the behavior of others. Even this woman’s. I did send her a private message expressing my thoughts and she defended herself (of course), sending me political commentary from news sources that she believed were correct. In her mind, she is correct and I am the one who is misled. We will never come to an understanding and that’s okay. It has to be. Like I said, I am in control of my behavior, no one else’s.

All I can do is remain true to my beliefs and be compassionate to all sentient beings, including this woman. I will remain positive and hopeful for our future, including Mother Earth and the animal kingdom. There are so many who will come to her defense.

I truly believe that LOVE will win… no matter what.