This Day

“When the path ignites a soul,
there’s no remaining in place.
The foot touches ground,
but not for long.”
~Hakim Sanai

It happens often on Sunday morning. I get up, get ready to proof read today’s post, read something else and then have to put the planned post aside and start over.

This morning I read two very different pieces. Separately they do not seem to be related. But they are.

One article was Listening Deeply for Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh and the other was by Shaun King, writer for the New York Daily News.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes about the possibility of peace. Shaun King writes about a boycott to bring an end to the killing of Black people.

I am sure that about here some of you will stop reading. And therein is part of the problem.

“Without deep listening and gentle loving speech it is very difficult to move towards peace. Peace will only become a reality, says Thich Nhat Hanh, when world leaders come to negotiations with the ability to hear the suffering at the root of all conflicts.”

“This week, I have received one question more than any other – from my wife, from my children, from friends and family, from colleagues, from college classmates, and from thousands and thousands of you.

“Shaun – what are we going to do about police brutality and racial injustice in America?”

“When one country attacks another, it is out of great fear and a kind of collective ignorance. ” TNH

This is the same for the way we treat and attack one another (physically and verbally) on an individual basis in this country. Out of fear and ignorance.

“All violence is injustice. We should not inflict that injustice on ourselves or on other people.” TNH

We live in a highly militarized country with highly militarized police. We have chosen this over clean water, renewable resources, addressing global warming, childcare, quality education, updated infrastructure, equal pay and equal rights, gender equality, religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom to protest …..an endless list.

If you read my posts with any regularity, you know my thoughts on most things. You also know I put great effort in coming to terms with and understanding the balancing of “Be Here Now”, world peace and Black Lives Matter (and many other things). Sometimes I struggle so profoundly I reach out to “teachers” for guidance. Often I cringe when people ask “Why worry so much?” or comment “It’s not that bad.” or, parrot “All lives matter.”

You would also know I work with young children. Over the years I have see change in their play, in their words and role play. Some are “positive” changes. Other changes worry me.

I have children of my own who put great thought into whether they want to bring a child into the world as it is now. It is a profound inner turmoil for them that brings confusion and sorrow.

I think about things many of you don’t. I am a little older now. My life moves a little slower than it used to. I have discovered a part of me that had to wait to be nurtured. Seeds were planted many years ago by my parents, role models, friends, teachers, experiences. They lay dormant through the fantasy world of childhood, the emotional flurry of the teen years, the rebellious years of college, the floundering of young adulthood, the tender years of parenthood and the softening of these years. Now I make the time to tend to them so that they can grow.

I am not hesitant to say out loud I believe we must achieve peace in the world and that it can be attained. I am proud I stand with Black Lives Matter and all issues of social justice. I believe our country and culture has become too militarized and not only does it hurt us, it hurts people around the world. I do not hide behind my upbringing of Christian teachings and say other religions are wrong, not of value, unimportant, or “not true”. I am not very “religious” now. Most religions teach of compassion. However, many religions now are a source of division and intolerance.

“As long as we allow hatred to grow in us, we continue to make ourselves and others suffer. As we look deeply at the wars in our recent history, we have to transform our hatred and misunderstanding into compassion.” TNH

“The antidote to violence and hatred is compassion. There is no other medicine. Unfortunately, compassion is not available in drugstores. You have to generate the nectar of compassion in your heart.” TNH

We all listen to what is in our own hearts.

We have to begin to listen to others.

Listen deeply. Begin by listening to the words and hearing what is being said. There are people crying out in suffering and pain. Then, let’s reach out to heal.

wo-fear-wo-hate

 

Listening Deeply For Peace

**Please click on the This Week tab at the top of the page to check out this week’s readings.

Enmeshed

In her beautiful article for the magazine LIFE AS A HUMAN, Lakota writer Mary Black Bonnet explains,

“For Lakotas one of our common mantras is “Mitakuye Oyasin” — we are all related.
All of us, no matter who you are (person), or what you are (grass, trees, rocks), are the same.
No one is better than anyone else.
Our lives really are circular, and yes, everything REALLY is related to everything else.
Some say related — I like to say enmeshed, because it really is.”

water treesmh1

Mary goes on to explain that along with this sense of Mitakuye Oyasin comes the practice of gratitude. Not the kind of gratitude most of us practice, but full on, constant awareness and complete physical, spiritual and mental gratitude from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we close them at the end of the day.

Mary Black Bonnet writes, “By the time I’ve ingested my food and am ready to start my day, I’ve already offered up thanks for so many things.”

This practice of being grateful is something I am consciously working on. It is difficult. It is not about coming to the end of the day and running through a litany of things to be thankful for. It is about having the presence of mind and pausing in that awareness as things happen, and saying “Thank you.”

My hard wiring causes me to begin planning and ordering my day as soon as I open my eyes. The mental lists form. A tightening in my body occurs as I feel overwhelmed some days before I even get out of bed. (And I have a pretty easy day, job and life) Some mornings before I get out of bed I find I am anticipating how many hours until I can get back in it.

I am working on giving up that routine. When I open my eyes I look outside and focus on Nature, the world. These winter mornings it is still dark and quiet. (This past week the moon, along with Saturn and Venus put on quite a show. I could see them from my pillow. There was no way to avoid the brightness, the light, the breath-taking beauty.)  I stay there in bed, for minutes after I “should” be up and I practice gratitude. It changes my physical body, I stay soft and relaxed. It changes my mental state, there is less anxiousness, worry, feeling of being overwhelmed. It changes my emotions. I don’t feel grumpy or cranky. I am instead at ease, grounded, open minded.

That takes 5 minutes.

As Mary writes, we are all a part of everything else….enmeshed, tangled up together, caught up in everything else. Thích Nhất Hạnh calls this “Interbeing”.  Alan Watts reminds us:

If you see yourself in the correct way,
you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees,
clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire,
the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy.
You are all just like that
…”

When we begin to learn to approach our life a little differently from what the TV shows, news, magazine photos, consumer advertising, would have us believe is the life we need to attain and defines a life well lived, we may discover something else. I get it that not everyone is into this. It’s where I am right now.

I am learning that life defined in softness and stillness, in awareness and being present, in interbeing and inter-connectedness, in gratitude, is a life of beauty and wonder, gentleness and hope.

In the morning when I open my eyes and see that crescent moon flirting with Venus and Saturn, I strive to remember to  see myself “in the correct way”. The way that tells us we “are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as…the arrangement of the stars and the form of a galaxy.” I remember we are all related. “Our lives really are circular, and yes, everything REALLY is related to everything else.”

And in remembering those things I am reminded to bathe in gratitude. To let gratitude flow over me and wash me clean from things that may not be as important as I make them out to be. When I do that I am changed. Compassion, gentleness, patience, less judgement, less worry fill my days. Not always…I am still learning. But, more often.

It’s a miraculous thing, Life. I don’t want the beauty, wonder, magic of it to be lost from me. I want to embrace and understand this state of Interbeing we are enmeshed in. I want gratitude to be the emotion that guides me.

Mary Black Bonnet’s article: We Are All Related

Link for LIFE AS A HUMAN Life As A Human

Link for Clouds In Each Paper by Thích Nhất Hạnh about Interbeing Clouds In Each Paper

*Photo by me. Roy H. Park Nature Preserve

 

 

The Pause

Sometimes when the preschoolers I work with get going a little too fast I say to them, “pause”. Not stop. Just pause. I encourage them to take a breath and notice what they are doing, how they are doing, what’s happening around them. To be present just for a moment. To pause.

I love their wild abandon, but sometimes that pause is needed…just for a moment. To get centered. Grounded.

As adults we need that pause also. To become grounded. Centered.

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day
is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”
Etty Hillesum

We are not always aware of our breath. Or that little pause many of us have right before an inhale. That little moment.

pond at springwater

(pond at Springwater Center for Meditative Contemplation)

If you do yoga or meditate you know this moment, this sublime pause. There are times when it seems to last a long time. At other times, it is brief, but still present.

There are some days when I get  caught up in the “things” of life.  I get saddened by news in the world. It weighs heavily on my heart. I have to remind myself to pause. To be aware of that moment between breaths so I can “come back to” this one moment. Not the previous moment that may harbor regret or confusion, doubt or pain. Even if there was joy and happiness, that is now a memory and no longer in the present.  Not the next moment which is already heavy with anticipation, assumptions, expectations and probability. As Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us:

“The past is gone, but the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves
in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.”

Often we are ruled by feelings, emotions and desires. We are always checking in with ourselves to see how we are feeling. To linger over a hope, dream or wish. We get lost in emotions. These weigh us down. Some days it feels as we are spiraling down to a dispirited place. We drift into wondering if we are happy, content, satisfied. For many of us we come up with things that would make us happier, more content and more satisfied. It feels as if we never are able to quite obtain that which we believe would make us feel better. Our emotions grab hold and our feelings, the physical reactions..tired, sore, stiff, butterflies in the stomach, tightness in our muscles, partner up with mercurial emotions and we may deflate and feel dragged down. Someone else always seems to have something that we believe would make us feel better if we had it too. These reactions, responses repeat and cycle over and over again.

And we forget. We forget that if we could pause and feel that moment in between each breath, we would become grounded. Centered. In the moment. That pause where there silence between thoughts. It is the space where the mind stands still. No thoughts exist in this space. Here you can experience awareness of the present moment. From this moment of awareness comes inner wisdom and joy arises.

“Discover inner space by creating gaps in the stream of thinking.
Without those gaps, your thinking becomes repetitive, uninspired, devoid of any creative spark,
which is how it still is for most people on the planet.”
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

“Slip into the gap.
This means to center yourself in that silent space between thoughts,
to go into the silence.”
Deepak Chopra

In this pause, this gap, this silence, we can find wisdom and inner joy.

Am I able to do this? Not often. I work at it. I try and try again. Each time I remember to pause and be present in the moment, it is easier the next time. The impulse to pause comes more often. I do feel grounded. More centered. There is a wisdom that grows and brings with it an understanding that I can control my thinking, reactions and responses. It is possible to have a clear moment where I can experience stillness, gratitude and feel and hear my breath. I do feel my aliveness, recognize and honor my love and compassion for myself and others.

It doesn’t always help when I hear or watch the news where there is incredible and unimaginable human suffering and violence. Still, within that pause I do become more aware of the connection I have to all living things. If I cannot stop a war, I can stop my own hurtful indignation towards others. I can check my anger and exasperation. I can turn down annoyance, impatience and resentment. I cannot stop hunger and lack of fundamental needs of people around the world, but I can check my own consumption and collecting of “stuff” I don’t use or need.

I cannot, even with pausing to be mindful and aware of all there is to remedy and improve in the world, bring those changes about on my own. I can commit to bringing no suffering to others. I can commit to causing no harm to others.

Again,

…”and if we do not go back to ourselves
in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.”

Close your eyes. Breathe in and find that little pause. Become grounded and centered. Know yourself. Know that there is only this one moment. Be in touch with life.

 

 

View To A Meditation

Some people get all squirmy and nervous when you talk about meditation. There’s concern it’s not Christian, it’s cult-ish, it’s hippy, it’s New Age, prayer gone astray, it’s drug related, it’s ….whatever.

So, I thought I’d do a pictorial post on what meditation means to me.

First of all, I am not trained in any specific method of meditation. I have no teacher.

I meditate in order to be present and at peace with this one moment. Not looking backwards or forwards, but being here now. I do this because it quiets my mind from the internal dialogue which makes up crazy stories filled with drama and unreal worries and anxieties. I get tired of thinking ten steps ahead of myself, worrying, planning, anticipating. I get lost in the past, I miss my mother, my father, what if I had done something differently, regretting a choice or decision, feeling disappointment and hurt.

I meditate to become grounded, centered. To focus on what I feel is important and worth pausing to recognize and to give thanks for those things. By expressing gratitude I am warmed and softened. I become open and giving. I am humbled and reminded of how many blessings are in my life. Every single moment.

I do, on occasion go to a retreat center. I do, once a week participate in a meditation group. I do, at night in bed, often listen to a guided meditation. I do, with effort and deep conviction try to bring mindfulness into moments of my day. I do read books from a broad spectrum of authors on meditation, religion and spirituality.

Here’s a sampling.

cushion

 

Sometimes I sit here, in a small bedroom upstairs. It is Evan’s old bedroom and it is full of tender memories of childhood and love. When I sit Bruce is often sitting near me. I close my eyes, breathe in and out to quiet myself. To stop the beginnings of “mind chatter” I silently say, as I breathe in and out, “I am breathing in. I am breathing out.” This leaves no room for those thoughts to have a voice. Sometimes this is all I do. Sometimes I just take in all the sounds and sights….just letting them be. Sometimes I let thoughts bubble up, but place no judgement, value or comment on them.

 

4 2

Yoga as meditation. I do Svaroopa yoga which is a specific style of yoga. No pretzel poses. It helps ground me. Literally. My body becomes one of the focuses of this practice. My mind the other. Rather, the quieting of the mind.

 

community as meditation

The children I work with are often my meditation. Here we are a community being gentle and loving with each other. Learning to be soft and trusting. Learning to give and receive.

 

eating as meditation

Cooking and eating as meditation. Slowing down enough to appreciate and have gratitude for the food we eat. And not just for the food, but for all the people and all the work other people do so that I can buy, prepare and eat the food. Gratitude and respect for the planet Earth which is after all, what allows any of this and us to even be. Gratitude.

 

gratitude as meditation

Meditation as in pausing and looking up, down, around. Being aware and being grateful.

 

meditation is about being present for someone

Meditation as in being fully present for someone else. Looking into their face and eyes and loosing awareness of anything else.

 

meditation is about being still

Meditation is about being still. Unmoving. Silent. Being where you are.

 

meditation seeing beiaty in all things

Meditation is about seeing beauty in all things. A friend commented she had never noticed the heart shape inside a walnut shell.

 

meditation path

Walking as meditation. “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thich Nhat Hanh

 

springwater view meditation

Meditation is sometimes deeper in a place that nurtures your heart and soul.  Springwater provides a place to focus on awareness. Time slows down here. Noise disappears.

 

evan

Meditation is about understanding that you are one small part of something significantly larger than yourself. And finding beauty and peace in that.

 

peace candle

Meditation is about creating a sense of and a commitment to peace and sharing it. Peace candle.

 

evan humor

Meditation is about having a sense of humor and being able to laugh.

 

kb wedding

Meditation is about trusting in love and working to grow love.

For me it is about learning how to never take anything for granted. To be planted in the moment and alive and aware. It is about separating from things, thoughts, fears and worries that are done, over with, or not even real. Meditation is about opening, allowing, inviting, accepting, experiencing. It shines light on life and the moment at hand. It fills me up and warms me deep inside.

Be Soft

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness…”
~ Kurt Vonnegut

sunrise 924 1

(sunrise, photograph by me)

I was very fortunate to be able to do quite a bit of traveling with my father, a minister. One of the most powerful trips was to India.  On this particular trip my father was to mentor a group of college students in a Comparative Religions course.  India is home to 4 of the world’s great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. I was in my middle teens, and not particularly interested in comparative religions. I knew precious little about any of the these religions. But in India you are not given the option of not caring about religion. You can not escape religion. It greets you in the morning, at every corner you turn and is the the last thought you have when your eyelids fall silently on your cheeks at night. The brightness of religion in India makes you squint your eyes from brilliant glare of color and light. The smell of religion in India is overpowering with burning funeral pyres, dung fires and the pungent smell of marigolds strung into garlands intermingled with the heady aroma of jasmine. Religion in India fills your ears with ringing all the time with the sounds of humanity: crying, singing, begging and praying. Religion in India coats your taste buds with slippery ghee butter made from the milk of the sacred cow.

bathing ganges1

(Ganges River, Varanasi India, photo by me. People come here to bath their sins away, to be purified by the water, to cure illness, to die here, to make a pilgrimage and be here once in your life is a priority)

In Nepal, you are nearly at the entrance of heaven above….there is no sight like the Himalayan mountains. No air so pure. No sky so blue. When I was there, Kathmandu was almost sleepy. Religion was everywhere. In fact, the eye of “God” was always gazing at you from atop the white and gold stupa.  The “wisdom eyes”  look out in the four directions to symbolize the omniscience (all-seeing) of a Buddha, enlightened one. Giant prayer wheels spun endlessly and tirelessly, sending prayers to the heavens and the Gods above. Prayer flags hung from buildings, doorways, trees…..fluttering wishes and hopes to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. And here, the most beautiful greeting, freely given to any and all, “Namaste”, the light in me honors the light in you. Here I did feel close to “something” divine.

I lived in Greece on the island of Crete for awhile when I was 19 and 20. Religion there was also inescapable. Crete is home to possibly the oldest civilization known. Full of mythology and brilliantly colored frescoes, the ruins speak of a life that revolved around trying to understand and tame the unknown.Women played an important role in culture and religion. In Crete orthodox icons are everywhere. There are saints, crosses, the Virgin Mary, Christ’s birth and Christ’s death, all painted in brilliant colors flecked with gold. They hang in churches, homes, places of business and on the front of doors and buildings.  Baaaing, whimpering lambs are carried onto buses during high holidays and served with pride and solemnity. Perhaps reminiscent of sacrifices in the past. During Holy Days parades and festivals clog the streets, people sing and dance, and bow and pray. Priests dressed in silks and gowns lead parades with floats of the Virgin Mary. Candles spread the light of hope and faith and the flame is passed from one to another as “Peace to you” is bestowed with kisses on both cheeks. Incense fills your nostrils and lingers with you in your hair, clothes and skin for days.

After I was married I lived in Japan. Here religion is a bit quieter but no less brilliantly beautiful. Temples well over a thousand years old are adorned with gold and silver. Pristine gardens for silent contemplation are  alive with moss that looks like velvet. Other gardens are almost barren, with raked gravel in intricate pattern with no hint of footprint or tool that was used to make them.  An occasional twisted, serpentine tree or huge boulder dot the pattern. Temples are entered barefoot. On occasion giant temple bells weighing over 100 tons and 30 feet high, are struck with a tree trunk held by 20 monks. The vibrating deep tones can sometimes be heard 30 miles away. The chanting of sutras, which means the thread that binds things together, brings to the present the spoken words of Buddha and honors the history of the oral traditions. Meditation offers a way to for the mind to engage in calm-abiding and “clear seeing”. Song and prayer are replaced with meditation and chanting.

In these four countries I had to pay attention. I was wrapped in the mythology, history, ritual, and dogma of religion like a baby is wrapped in a swaddling cloth.

These experiences opened a door to curiosity. I walked through.

Fast forward. Forty years later. India remains in my thoughts daily. India ignited the spark of my interest in world religions. I still process India. Every. Single. Day.

Recently I let go of my early religious upbringing. For years I knew I could no longer embrace what was my father’s belief. I tried very hard. Very hard. But, I remember as a child not being able to get “on board.” I rebelled whenever I could.  Sunday school teachers did not like my questions. The nun who lead communion classes didn’t like my questions.  I wore a red plaid wool jumper to my confirmation….the Bishop was not pleased. My father hugged me.

Now, like the quote above, my “religion” revolves around being soft. Not hard. Pain and suffering does not give rise to hate. No thing can turn sweetness to bitterness. It is a choice I make. I do not practice submission or devotion. There is no imploring or petitioning. When I “pray” it is more of an internal, deeply personal song to the mystery of things I do not understand, to the magnificence found in nature, to the bond of our common humanity. When I am still, and quiet it is self inquiry that moves me forward and challenges me to be compassionate.

In Softness I stand in awe of the beauty of Nature. In Softness I find peace in silence. I Softness I do not fear death or “where” I will “go” when i “die”. In Softness I value compassion, kindness. My path is to love, be gentle and offer comfort and support. My focus is on the moment, of being present. This is moment I have to Be. THIS is the moment I have.

“My path is the path of stopping, the path of enjoying the present moment. It is a path where every step brings me back to my true home. It is a path that leads nowhere. I am on my way home. I arrive at every step.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunrise Thoughts on Compassion

cropped-sunrise07.jpg

(Morning sky photo by me)

When I woke up this morning the sky was yellowy-pink and blue. The leaves on the trees were blocking or filtering the colors. The leaves themselves were a hundred shades of green. Some of them were dancing and singing to the rhythm of the breeze. I thought for awhile about the the current events around the world. Of all the suffering and fear. I thought about all I have been taught about religion, spirituality, being kind and moral. I thought about my family, people I love. I thought about fears, worries and feeling secure and safe. I thought about the power of compassion to be trasnformative. Here is my pondering.

True compassion does. not come from wanting to help those less fortunate than ourselves 

but from realizing our kinship with all beings. 

— Pema Chodron in Start Where You Are

Every day we read a story in the newspaper, or hear something on the news that opens in us the feeling of compassion. Something tugs at our heart: a father looses a battle with cancer, a young mother dies in a car crash, children starving, a house destroyed by a tornado. We find comfort in calling in a donation…we want to help ease the suffering.

For some of us it is a little harder to feel compassion when we impart a personal judgment on other types of stories: “They must have deserved that”, “That was their choice”, “Well, they should have known better”.

Make no judgment in which there is no compassion. 
— Traditional Saying quoted in The Fragrance of Faith by Jamal Rahman

Pema Chodron reminds us compassion isn’t just about wanting to relieve the suffering of others, but of “realizing our kinship with all beings.”

How do we internalize that so that we shut down the need to judge and condemn and look deeper into others to see the whole story? In an earlier post I quoted Joan Tollifson who responded to my cry for help in understanding the tensions and violence in Gaza and Israel. She wrote, “Love doesn’t turn away. It doesn’t blame or hate. It is the open heart, willing to be completely broken. And from that place, intelligent action (or non-action) can arise. Love is the real nonduality…love sees that this is how it is right now…bombs are falling, children are hurting, this is what the universe is doing…Love doesn’t try to avoid the pain or explain it away.”

Isn’t that the way of compassion too? To not turn away. To put aside blame or hate. To allow “intelligent” action to grow.

The nectar of compassion is so wonderful. If you are committed to keeping it alive, then you are protected. What the other person says will not touch off the anger and irritation in you, because compassion is the real antidote to anger. Nothing can heal anger except compassion. That is why the practice of compassion is a very wonderful practice. 
— Thich Nhat Hanh in Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

Can we learn to keep anger at bay, keep irritation silent and be open to compassion? Could we learn to keep our hearts open and to understand the suffering of the” other”? Perhaps we will not always be able to understand the choices others make, but does that prevent us from understanding that there is a person, a human being, who is suffering?

My father used to remind me of the parable of walking in another person’s shoes.  Harper Lee recalls it in To Kill A  Mockingbird:

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view,

until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Harper Lee, To Kill A  Mockingbird.

It is very uncomfortable to do that….we sometimes see things we don’t want to see, don’t want to understand, don’t want to accept. Sometimes we begin to question our own choices and values. We might even begin to feel uncomfortable thinking about things  we most likely take for granted: health, security, running water, food, a dry bed, clothes…… When we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, someone perhaps we have made a judgement about, we may discover they love others, someone loves them, they are afraid, there is no security in their lives: they may not know where they will sleep at night, or when they will eat again, or when a bomb will drop next to them, or who will be the next family member they will bury from drug overdose, domestic or gun violence, when they will be sexually abused again……

If we go back to the beginning….realizing we have a kinship with all beings, where do we find ourselves then? What kinship do I have with the residents of Ferguson, Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guinea, Columbia, North Korea or Honduras?  With someone who has cancer , is a victim of rape or abuse, or is gay or  transgendered? Someone who is  Black, Vietnamese, Arab, or Philipino? Someone who is handicapped, mentally ill, homeless, a convicted felon, a prisoner of war, a deserter, a meth addict? A Kurd or  Yazidi,  Rakhine, Choctaw or Roma? With someone who is Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Taoist, Christian, Pagan, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Baha’i? Someone wearing a burka, hijab, or a turbin? Someone with full body tattoos or an eye patch?  With anyone who is not me ?? How do I manifest compassion to and for those who are not me?

We are always beginners in the art of compassion. No matter how advanced or refined we believe our understanding to be, life is sure to present us with some new experience or encounter with pain we feel unprepared for.Your partner betrays you, your teacher disappoints you, some event of unimaginable cruelty happens in the world, and once more you are asked to open your heart and receive it. “This also, this also” is the essence of compassion. Over and over you are asked to meet change, loss, injustice, and over and over you are asked to find the strength to open when you are most inclined to shut down. 

— Christina Feldman in Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World

 The nectar of compassion is wonderful. We are always beginners in the art of compassion, and we can always choose to begin to practice compassion. We can find the strength to be open. If we can accept our kinship with one another, perhaps then we can begin the process of alleviating suffering and begin to spread compassion. There isn’t always a monetary donation we can make to improve something or to make us feel better.  We can begin discussion for intelligent action that might actually create positive change.