Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Compassion For Haitians and All Humanity
Greetings, Lovers of Life!
This morning I read my friend Britt's post on the Earthquake in Haiti. I don't follow the "news" at all, partly because there is so much media brainwash and "bad" news reported. I relate to my friend Darren's teacher, Lee Lozowick, that it is important to 'make judicious choices about what kind of impression food we will eat.' In reference to films with suffering content, he says , "We should already be so deeply in touch with the reality of suffering, it should be such a cellular knowledge for us, that we hardly need to go to a movie to remind us of it." I agree.
The devastation and suffering in Haiti is part of daily life. It is not my daily life, yet a part of me and of humanity I cannot deny, even if it hurts to see it. The world has plenty of sorrow and devastation. We need not be resigned to it. Thankfully, trusted sources, like Britt can keep us up to speed on how to "do good" and make a difference. She offers several options for making donations and participating in relief and support efforts to Haiti.
According to the U.S. UNICEF press release: "Funds are urgently needed to provide safe water, temporary shelter systems, essential medical supplies etc. . . . Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and has a population of 9.6 million inhabitants, of which more than half are under 21 years old."
I saw photos of the Earthquake and instantly my heart ached with the suffering of the Haitians in their reality. In addition to making a donation towards relief efforts, I began to practice Tonglen. Tonglen is Tibetan for 'giving and taking' (or, sending and taking). Wikipedia says "in this practice, one visualizes taking onto oneself the suffering of others, and giving one's own happiness and success to others."
'It is a practice of 'using what seems like poison as medicine. Using suffering as the path to compassion for all beings.' Pema Chodron writes,"Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure and, in the process, we become liberated from a very ancient prison of selfishness... It awakens our compassion and it also introduces us to a far larger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness that Buddhists call shunyata. By doing the practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being...
Tonglen can be done for those who are ill, those who are dying or have just died, or for those that are in pain of any kind. It can be done either as a formal meditation practice or right on the spot at any time. "
Please, give yourself and all of humanity a gift. Read more about the simple steps to practice Tonglen, and make it a part of your daily, on the spot awakening of compassion. Donate your consciousness and loving kindness to the people of Haiti and to all of humanity.
And a special thanks to my mother in law,Terra, for introducing me to this practice. She is a Bodhisattva beacon and an awakener of compassion in the world.