Glimmers of Light

“Aren’t we tired of seeing what is wrong in the world and having no way to address it? There is no profit in fighting, killing, and putting others down: that is not the way to happiness and well-being. We need to learn to respond to our circumstances with wisdom and with all the knowledge we can muster. We need to make this human mind great again.”
— Dimensions of Mind, Page 36, Tarthang Tulku.

Poised on a perch of pious judgement, I isolate myself from the humanity whose fate I will share if we don’t come to our senses together. It’s time to accept that there is no place for me to stand that can protect me from the rising flood.

A truth that has been propounded for millennia has finally become undeniable: We’re all in this together.

A wild thought: when Christ said that we should treat the least among us as his own presence in our world, could he have meant those who don’t know their own self-interest and who feel alienated from anyone different from themselves? And when he said “they know not what they do” could he have meant those who scam the system and create want in the land of plenty?

Yet, I have become polarized against half the world. How deep would I have to dig to recognize my kinship with beings who each suffer in their own way?

“We know from our own experience what it is like to be cut off from inner healing, so it is easy to develop sympathy for others in the same situation. In the beginning, we can focus on our friends and those close to us, but eventually we can have the wish to help anyone, even people who have not been kind to us. We understand the way their minds operate, and we can recognize in them the same kinds of emotionality and ignorance that we have experienced ourselves.”
–Dimensions of Mind, page 46/47.

Why would we even want to make the effort needed to wrench ourselves loose from our familiar alienation?

“We do not want to end up bankrupt and defeated, wasting our lives in idle, meaningless pursuits, secretly convinced that there is nothing of value to live for. We do not want to pass that message on to others through our actions, our sidelong looks, our sighs and complaints. There is already enough negativity in the world.”
–Dimensions of Mind, Page 50.

In this age of skepticism, marked by a preference for rational analysis over belief and faith, it seems itself an act of faith to consider that wishing all beings well could replace active indignation over the damage our species is doing to the planet. Surely some righteous anger, if it prompts us to resist the greed of people in power, seems justified, but the cost of feeling resentment and alienation towards whole groups of fellow beings can be too great.

Einstein’s statement that “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” and Godel’s “Incompleteness theorems”, in which he proved that there is an inherent incompleteness in every closed system, can encourage us to look outside the dysfunction of our current political structures for a reprieve from feeling stuck inside them.

I’ve never thought of religion and spirituality, of faith and belief in a higher power, as being ways of going beyond the contexts in which problems and paradoxes–inherent to the assumptions of those contexts—arise, but it feels right.

So it seems rational, even scientifically ordained, to join those who are praying for others lost in pain. They are not likely to be seen on TV, making fabulous deals or starting wars, but they are quietly sending out kind-hearted wishes for all beings to be happy and well.

. . .
Oh Goddess of the healing rains, may you bring relief
To the parched deserts of our suffering

Have mercy on all who are thirsty and lost
And who see no prospects in their lives

Have mercy also on all who deceive others
And who waylay their hopes and dreams

For, in showing us who not to be,
They are sacrificing their own now’s and hereafters.

2 comments to “Glimmers of Light”
  1. Mercy, such a stunning word, after something of a wandering intro, this piece drives on home. As everybody’s aunt used to mutter: mercy, mercy, what have we here?

  2. I don’t seem to be able to stop my meandering, but I really would like to work on not feeling so partisan. Reading about the Bodhisattva Way in “Dimensions of Mind” reminds me that as a younger man I really tried to challenge my self-centeredness. But somehow, by degrees–and fed by the global breakdown of civility and fairness–I seem to have let that understanding slip away. Time will tell if there is more than a passing wouldn’t-it-be-nice fantasy on the job here . . .

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