01 Jan Practicing Love & Compassion in Times of Challenge
I write this on new years eve as the unsettling year of 2016 comes to a close. Although many people are pleased with the outcome of the recent presidential election, it has been an troublesome year for me and many others. Clearly we are in a time of significant upheaval in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and many other regions of the world. Climate change is causing droughts, flooding and rising sea levels, resulting is a significant refugee crisis. People on both sides of the political divide feel ignored and threatened. There is a great deal of uncertainty which causes many to react in fear and anger.
As concerning as these times are, those of us who seek to live with more consciousness are presented with an opportunity to see how we are responding to these events. Are we rolling in reactivity in the form of fear, blame or despair or are we able to respond from a place that is more conscious, wise and loving. All of us that have been on the spiritual path for some time have heard over and over of the need to respond to anger, bigotry, sexism and hatred with love and compassion. It is one thing to know this in the abstract, but quite another to actually practice this. Are we able to summons enough spacious awareness to stop and feel our physical sensations and notice our thoughts when we are reactive, rather than rage at and blame the “other”.
This is not to say that we let go of our personal perspectives or fail to take actions that we feel important, but are we able to take responsibility for the breakdown in civil discourse and the inability to fully listen to each other. Are we able to respond and take action from a place of as much love, understanding and wisdom as we can reach in ourselves?
“World problems cannot be challenged by anger or hatred. They must be faced with compassion, love, and true kindness ….” The Dali Lama
Most of us want to live with more peace and less worry, fear and unrest. One of primary causes of a lack of peace is our self-centered focus. Love and compassion are a direct path to inner peace as these turn attention away from our ego-centric focus. So not only is this time an opportunity to bring a greater consciousness to the world stage but an opportunity to cultivate an atmosphere of inner calm and peace. In fact the Dali Lama states that compassion is one of the most direct paths to Joy.
“If you understand me well, drop all fears and love more and love unconditionally – and don’t think you are doing something for the other when you love. You are doing something for yourself. When you love it is beneficial to you… Don’t say that when others love, you will love – that is not the point at all.” Osho
So my intention as we transition into the new year is to listen more, to attempt to understand another’s perspective, to notice my reactions and to use every opportunity to deepen my commitment to the practice of love and compassion.