From one shore to another: Journey from fear to Compassion
Just over a week after the winter solstice, the year is renewed in many regions of the world using the Gregorian calendar. All endings are also beginnings as crises are also new opportunities. The new beginnings are also doors to the unknown, and opportunities to open new paths. The fluid, changing and interconnected reality is full of surprises. Opening up gives possibilities. Bindings and solidities almost always hold us back.
A new turn around the sun from our blue planet can also be a renewed opportunity. Maybe we can cultivate our capacity for appreciation, gratitude and being present again. Observe again how we relate to ourselves, to life experiences or to others. We can consider living with more openness and being more compassionate with ourselves and others. Regardless our way, we can always open up to new aspirations and expand them every day.
Winter days of either pink, gingery-orange, golden or reddish textures of beauty without name, pass fleeting. The long nights let shine a starry mantle in a deep captivating darkness, a space without limits or clear forms. The cold and the fresh lucid snow invites to seek warmth and seclusion. Recollection has encounters with warm intimacy, and intimacy is pregnant with delicate silences. Silences that invite and meets reflection, maybe even openness with courage to a spaciousness suffused with compassion.
We can live our deepest experiences with confidence, as a book of our dearest Sharon Salzberg recalls. We can aspire to go through our vital journey with the clarity and presence of mindfulness with openness, involvement and inclusion of compassion. In sum with the skillful means to not just build cultures of peace but beings and communities of compassionate courage that rebuild broken societies with wisdom. A compassionate way of courage can be working in coalescence beyond tribalism or nationalism for the inclusion of everyone: healthier, trusting, compassionate, present, open, with closeness, building sustainable and empowering societies and beings.
Ancient traditions has remarked that we live not just threaten but driven by fear. We have lived for many eons in what philosopher Lars Svendsen calls cultures of fear, and fear is used as an instrument to determine how we consider the world and ourselves. Fear, hostility, hatred, genocide and war are used to manipulate us as the political philosopher Slavoj Žižek reminded us. Fear also uses the egoistic and neurotic aspects of our minds, those ones that lives on fixation, solidity, grasping, rejection, hatred, envy, arrogance, discord, distraction, rumination and a large and widespread experiences many of us has felt sometime.
Fear can be an intelligent survival tool. But conceptual fear can be paralyzing when it does not become a bondage or a nightmare.
To live without fear, through or even so with it can be to live with aspirations, compassionately, more free from the bondage of our impulses or conditioning. This doesn’t mean to live without feelings neither something reserved for Saint Francis of Assisi or the Dalai Lama, however much they may be great inspiration for all of us.
To live free is to be free to feel the warm expression of our heart as our dearest Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche reminds us. Free to feel the rawness of vulnerability as an opportunity to open up as our beloved Pema Chodron reminds us. Free to feel each feeling, understand it and allow it to move us without fear of the movement of life as our dearest Jack Kornfield reminds us.
Gary Snyder, a wonderful poet and one of the greatest environmentalist we ever had, being asked about the deterioration of the planet told us clearly: the last thing you should do is to feel guilty, ashamed or impotent. That also nourish self-importance and hostility towards ourselves and others. Fear, guilt and shame disempower, disconnect us from ourselves and others, and paralyze us. We must take empowered responsibility, skillful means, insight, awareness, make decisions with perspective and perform interconnected and compassionate actions beyond self-interest and fear, the fear of ourselves or self-doubt, fear of others, of the open space of possibilities, and beyond fear of action.
The warmth and presence that we pointed out before, it is cultivated as intrepid fearlessness and widen heart. Kindness, tenderness, vulnerability, strength, generosity, compassion, trust, clarity, delight, aspiration, wisdom and attention innately coexist in us with several textures. They can also be watered and can be cultivated. And yes, they live together with the facts and events of distraction, fear, clinging, selfishness or confusion.
What do we want for ourselves and others for this year? What do we want for every unfolding moment? What are our widening aspirations? What do we want to grow on ourselves so in others? Can we grow a garden and make moves to cultivate our ground, mind and heart to flowering and expand? Remembering Shantideva:
The lichen hanging in the trees wafts to and fro,
Stirred by every breath of wind;
Likewise, all I do will be achieved,
Enlivened by the movements of a joyful heart.
Let’s keep cultivating our mind and hearts in open, present, supportive and sustainable ways so that the 10000 sorrows and 10000 joys do not leave us neither ecstatically paralyzed nor devastated. There is no place to dwell in an impermanent fluid reality. Follow our joyful hearts, minds and lives to build, cultivate and expand clarity and compassion for the sake of all beings. We all have the innate seeds that can also be cultivated, watered, expanded and inhabited for the sake of everyone.
Let’s cross the turbulent river of attachment, aggression and ignorance. Paramita in Sanskrit, arrived to the other shore: from fear to compassion.
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