December 7, 2015
The more we open our hearts to take in the vastness of the world’s suffering, the more we will take in individual instances of suffering without surprise or shock.
As we come to see that suffering is a unified field, it becomes clear that the destruction of an entire species through our cruelty and carelessness is not more terrible than the gang rape with knives of a woman in Tahir Square or an infant dying of hunger.
To know that suffering is enormous and is everywhere doesn’t mean that we will view others’ pain with indifference or will fail to act to ease the pain, it’s the contrary. Our caring deepens and widens as we connect an individual wound to the larger sea of pain of the world, and we will want to do whatever we can—large or small (though whatever we do is both small in that vast sea of pain and large in the openheartedness of its intention)—to lessen that suffering.
December 8, 2015
If we experience our friends and other people in our lives not as fixed entities but as manifestations, we are much more likely to give them our sincere attention when we encounter them—how are they manifesting right now? We don’t assume, we observe with interest, we inquire. So it is also a way to keep love and friendship fresh.
December 9, 2015
Of course the word “enlightenment” isn’t Pali or Sanskrit, and I’ve often preferred the simpler “awakening,” however more and more I appreciate the word “light” that is its centerpiece. “Light” can represent two stages of our practice. As our hindrances peel away, we can enjoy the light of discernment, and even the world of forms around us often becomes sharper and clearer, as most retreatants have observed. It’s rather like cataract surgery for our inner and outer eyes. Later however we can begin to savor the other meaning of “light”—the lightness we begin to feel as we release the burdens of all those opinions and judgments, those efforts to control what cannot be controlled, until, becoming lighter and lighter, we can see clearly—as in the revelation of December 5—the reality of our true lightness, our emptiness, and the emptiness of everything, everyone else.