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Lions Roar : May 2018
Spain. Along the way, in a rain shelter, we met a Swiss man who unexpectedly lashed into us for fifteen minutes, blaming us for all the evils he saw the U.S. perpetrating in the world. We said little, the rain stopped, and we went our separate ways. However, we were all heading west on the Camino and repeatedly encountered each other on the trail. My wife and I consciously decided to befriend him. After a few exchanges he opened up and shared his sorrows, especially his struggles with his ex-wife and teenage daughter, for whom he cared greatly. On the day before his return to Switzerland, he apolo- gized to us for what he’d said in the rain shelter. I try to use Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching also with Donald Trump, who has said and done so many things that seem to me to be cruel and offensive. Our sangha has started a weekly metta meditation in Lafayette Square, across from the White House. After centering myself, I bring to mind the mental suffering President Trump may have experienced as a child and still may experience. I feel compassion arise in me, and I send the energy of loving-kindness to the White House. My wish is that everyone in the White House might feel safe, loved, and accepted, and that the seeds of peace, joy, and true love within them will grow. In my metta meditation, I also send loving-kindness to those who have loved and supported me, and to all people around me, those whose names I know and those whose names I don’t know. In bringing these people to mind and sending them my loving-kindness, they become more real to me and I feel more connected to them. I truly want these people to be well, safe, and happy. And, finally, I send metta to myself, wishing that I may be safe, loved, and accepted, and that my stability and inner peace may grow. My aspiration is that as my loving-kindness and compassion deepen, the childhood suffering I carry will lessen, and I’ll act less often in ways that others experience as mean, offensive, or difficult. Sending metta to the White House isn’t the only action I want to take as a mindful citizen. However, the cultivation of open-heartedness and inclusiveness feels like a powerful antidote to the demonization of others that’s plaguing Amer- ican life. Endeavoring to practice the teaching that “no person is evil” allows me to hold the suffering and unskillfulness of those around me, as well as to transform my own suffering and unskillfulness. It reminds me that we’re not separate, no matter how separate we may feel at times. ♦ MITCHELL RATNER was ordained as a dharma teacher by Thich Nhat Hanh and is founder of the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Cen- ter in Maryland. Contemplate that the one who is difficult, the difficulty itself, and the recipient of that difficulty are all happening as if in a dream. —PEMA CHÖDRÖN LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 59