Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Oneness and Compassion
Many teachers and lineages remind us that we are all one, that the acts of one are the acts of all of us, that those traits we discover in others mirror what is found within our own hearts. This message is easy to hear in a workshop or from a favorite author, and it is relatively easy to put into practice with friends and those we love and admire. Yes, we think. We are all one. I am you, you are me, we are both simply parts of the divine reality, and we reflect each other in Indra's net, like holograms or differing versions of the same thing.
But what about other circumstances? How do we respond to someone whose actions violate our own sense of right conduct--what about the criminals among us who flout the law to perfom acts of violence or even terrorism? How do we react to these persons "outside the pale" of what we consider acceptable human conduct?
Here are some reflections on this subject. I have given it a lot of thought, as I am sure you have also.
First, I think we have to admit the possibility that the previous assertion is correct--that we are indeed all one.
Next, I think we view the situation in a larger context. What is that context? Someone has said, "To understand all is to forgive all." If we knew the full circumstances of the "perpetrator's life," both past and present, we might well have a more forgiving view. Is it possible that for every blow delivered an equal blow was received in the past? Are there extenuating circumstances of medical or psychological issues that must be considered? What social attitudes have shaped the present mind and psyche of the "accused"?
And here is another thought. If you can--whether you are dealing with some slight from a friend or some terrible act of violence someone else commits upon a stranger--try to move your thoughts to a "higher" plane. Think how the situation might appear to someone (a spirit? an angel? God?) looking down on the entire scene. Get "you" out of the picture as much as possible. Would it not then be easier to experience compassion rather than to submit to thoughts of vengeance or bitter condemnation? After all, we are--all of us--struggling on this earth to survive and progress as best we can. What has caused this fellow human to fail in this moment? What is it we do not know that might complete the picture?
I am not saying that we must adopt an "anything goes" attitude, no matter how horrendous the offense. We must exercise our discriminating intelligence to sort out the issues, and "condemn not the actor but the action."
Today, I received this message from Lawrence Edwards, Ph. D. (Kalidas) who wrote the following insightful message about Oneness and the need to exercise compassion. (See thesoulsjourney for his wonderful website--and by the way, it contains one of the best bibliographies available.)
Yes, yes, we are one and until all are free none are free. There is no other mind, there is one Mind, there is no other heart, there is one Heart. The play of Light and Dark belongs to the illusion of separation, limitation, lacking this and wanting that, drawn to one thing and repulsed by another. In that world of polarities, a world of our own creation, our own as Maha Kali, choice and the power to choose must be exercised, seeing clearly that we all embody the whole, and each being, like a cell within our body, is fully embraced. There is no compassion for others, only compassion for ourself, for there is no other, only our self. One individual manifests our ability to be ignorant and deluded, violent or insane, another manifests our boundless compassion, our wisdom, our beauty and grace. Animals manifest other qualities we have, plants - yet others, rocks and crystals, planets and stars, galaxies and universes, dimensions upon dimensions, crushing the ordinary mind with the infinite expanse of our true Vastness. You are my very self dear Dorothy and I yours. To strengthen the poor ordinary mind to serve the infinite, takes eons of exercising choice, of doing sadhana, not merely visualizing oneness in some new age workshop. Squeeze a person and watch the venom come out. It's OK, part of the purification. Kali does that, until all that's left is the purity of Her Love. Then, like a ripe mango, when squeezed by life all that comes out is the sweet nectar of compassion, patience, kindness and love. Namaste!