Lovingkindness and Compassion

It has been touching to travel (this time in California) and meet people who tell me, " I'm doing the challenge." Some have been blogging, some reading, and all described growing in awareness.

It's clear from reading the blogs that several people have had experiences of sorrow and loss. As we go about our ordinary day it's easy to overlook how vulnerable we all are to change. In some ways I think our society is built around the notion that if we accumulate enough, or get that one, special experience, relationship or object, it will serve as a totem against change.

It's a powerful part of our conditioning, and it's a shame, because recognizing that vulnerability is one of the things that brings us closer and awakens compassion.

It's not that we all have the same share of joys and sorrows…but we do share the reality that life is constantly changing, nothing static, nothing fixed. We all want to be happy, yet there can be so much confusion about where true happiness is to be found. Instead of finding it in denying change, we find it in the development of Lovingkindness and compassion.

Lovingkindness is the deep recognition that we live in an interconnected reality…our lives have something to do with one another. We may not like someone, or want to bring them home, but we can understand that everybody counts, everybody matters.

Compassion is the movement of the heart in recognizing our own or someone else's vulnerability. We move towards that person, to see if we can be if help.

In day to day life that might look like simply recognizing our own humanity, or the humanity of someone else.

I was teaching recently and a woman told me, after a sitting, " All week long my boss has been a tyrant — unfair, judgmental, in a very uncharacteristic way. It's only been here, meditating, that it occurred to me to think, ' She might have something going on in her life that is provoking this.'"

It's not to say we excuse the behavior, or pretend it wasn't wrong…but if we remember that the boss is also a human being, we can have a different level of compassion for them, and say something or do something in response to their behavior from that place.