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Lions Roar : November 2016
No, not under the vault of alien skies, And not under the shelter of alien wings— I was with my people then, There, where my people, unfortunately, were. A woman drives her SUV off the icy road, and her carefully buckled-in children drown in the river. On that day, what you can do is make sandwiches and coffee for the stricken people. It’s important not to abandon those who have been hurt as somehow too damaged. Then we don’t abandon ourselves either. 5. We don’t need to know how it’s going to come out Not knowing is what emptiness tastes like. It’s also what wel- come tastes like. We never know what will arrive next. Dreadful events can lead to wonderful events, and the other way around. It’s always too early to despair. Welcome means not reaching a verdict on our lives. It is intimate and beautiful not to know, to be vulnerable, not to be stronger than our situation. We can feel our way, we can grope along in the velvety dark, and each step will be true and ours. 6. A little note about delusion Everyone knows how to believe something. But as soon as you believe something, you have to defend it. When I look, though, I can never completely agree even with my own views. Beliefs depend on being unexamined. I could just put them behind a no-trespassing sign, but when I do that, I live by them without finding out what is real. The discovery of emptiness ➢ page 72 PHOTO©PHARTISAN/DREAMSTIME.COM from that light. There’s a tremendous peace in feeling that. Even if we’re not okay, we’ll be okay. We’ll know what to do. 2. The bodhisattva path In Buddhism, the shape emptiness takes is sometimes called the bodhisattva path. This means, basically, we’re in it together. We’re concerned about others and, as far as we have a motive, it’s to awaken alongside all beings. The effect is to make us help- ful without having to feel virtuous or worthy, which are subtle ways to close things down. We are often advised to be more armored, more paranoid, to take advantage of others. But finding openness in our own hearts—that changes most things about life. It’s an exhilarating step into the unknown. 3. Empathy Moment by moment, the imagination, dreams, and hopes of others press on us. By others I mean people, animals, and even trees and rivers. When people are suffering, we feel it. We may not know it, but we do. We may try to explain it away or even blame them, but it’s just that we feel their suffering as our own. Empathy is the most spectacular manifestation of the mys- terious light in everything. The welcome practice is not to be mindful and attentive, though that could be a nice side effect. Welcome is to see, to feel, to know the flavor of connection. To sing with others, your voice coming out of my mouth. It is the experience that we are already in love with others, and that we perceive others as ourselves. A loving quality appears by itself and is fundamental to being human. 4. Being companions to each other Part of understanding that we are not living the wrong life is see- ing that we are not living in the wrong time. Many things can’t be changed; what we can do is accompany each other. That’s the bodhisattva path again. During the terrible ordeal of the Russian people during the twentieth century, poet Anna Akhmatova wrote of her decision to stay: