by Ed and Deb Shapiro: We have a newspaper photograph of Bishop Tutu, his hands held in prayer position. Underneath it are his words,
Please make it fashionable to be compassionate. That photograph is many years old yet his words are even more relevant now. Is it not time to make compassion fashionable, to make kindness cool, to make consideration and care hot topics? We can do this and we have to. We’ve already proven that war does not work, that fighting and killing in the name of religion, to gain domination or to claim control never has a happy ending, always there is suffering, anguish and continued pain. The dualistic belief that there is an us and them causes an endless no-win situation, blanketing our minds with ignorance.
Is it not time for a revolution that begins with ourselves, a bringing alive of fearlessness, courage, compassion and love for our own selves and from there towards all others? A revolution is a re-evolution, it is the willingness to take a higher step in the evolution of consciousness. We have come so far in our development but now we have to add to the technological wonders we are capable of by including the heart, the one piece that has been missing. There is enough suffering in the world already. Opening the heart to unconditional love is the only way to break through the boundaries and separation that cause loneliness and fear.
A revolution is also a revolving, a turning around of ourselves in response to an inner calling, and in this case it is the turning of our energy from being focused on selfishness, self-survival and closed heartedness to caring and sharing for all equally. It is a shift in emphasis. From being locked in the head with all its attendant fears, doubts, insecurities and dramas, we become aware that there is this other part of our being that operates in a different way and is actually a source of abundant riches, a wealth that cannot be squandered or lost.
If we genuinely want to end terrorism, if we genuinely want to bring real and peaceful change to the world, then there is one place where we can begin, the one place that is our own personal responsibility–we must confront and begin to heal the one war we can each help to alleviate. We have to open our hearts to ourselves and to all others, equally, for there will never be peace outside if we are not at peace inside.
In essence this sounds simple – just open the heart and get more loving. Yet the heart is tender, shy and reluctant to emerge. It is wary of love, wary of making itself known.This lack of trust, accumulated through years of abuse and misunderstanding, causes separation, discontent, suspicion, unhappiness, loneliness, enmity and ultimately war. We close our hearts thinking that in this way we will be protected and safe, believing that if our heart is closed we cannot be hurt. But all we do is shut out the reality of our true nature, the tenderness of our own being, and so we can never be truly happy.
Opening the heart means softening to the beauty and wonder in each moment. It means being willing to feel our feelings and not hide them behind a facade. It means sharing our tenderness, vulnerability and appreciation. Anger, resentment, hurt and abuse arise because we are wanting to protect our tenderness, to shield our sensitivity and vulnerability from others by hiding it away. But opening could not happen if the potential for openness was not there. Already, inside each one of us, is a softness, a place of tenderness, and it is only because it is there that so much pain and hurt and closing and hardening exists. If compassion, forgiveness and mutual respect are to become fashionable, then the first step we have to take is the willingness to feel, to touch our sensitivity, open to our softness, be bold in our vulnerability and share our inner heart.
So much hurt and denial, so many wounds and atrocities have taken place in the name of religion, politics, and through personal greed and selfishness: misunderstandings between families, friends, races and countries, abuse and disrespect, hatred and prejudice. Yet at the same time there is always that tender place inside each one of us that does not want to keep hurting, that wants to be loving and happy, that yearns for fulfilment. For the compassionate revolution to be effective you have to hold tight to that tender place and give it your priority.
Going Out of Your Mind
The much -loved spiritual teacher, the late Alan Watts, said, “To go out of your mind at least once a day is tremendously important. By going out of your mind you come to your senses!” When we come out of the conditioned, limited and unaware mind the center of gravity naturally shifts to the heart. From there we can deal with the neurotic and needy states that arise in the mind. In the heart there is the kindness, patience and forgiveness in which to heal, to embrace. Coming out of the mind is a way of giving ourselves the spaciousness to touch deeper into our own depths.
We can start by being aware that we are alive. Right now. Just stop for a moment and become aware of your breath. Watch the breath enter and leave. Repeat, I am aware that I am breathing. Feel your body soften and welcome the breath. Belly softens. Heart softens. Feel the breath moving through your body. Feel the exhilaration of being alive. Do this for a few minutes.
To live with an open and loving heart is to accept our life with dignity, interest, wholeheartedness and tenderness. It means befriending our own weaknesses, anger and fear and transforming them into appreciation and loving kindness. It means we feel pain and suffering but also see beyond them so we do not become overwhelmed. Rather, we can use such feelings as a source of strength. To live in this way is to enter into the stream of love, pure love that is undiluted. This love is fearless because there is no place for fear to rest; fear may arise but love holds us tenderly. With this love all confusion dissolves for with it comes clarity and insight. It makes the world to go round, plants and trees grow, the sun rises, hearts to be warm. It is always present beneath our grief and sorrow; it mends all wounds; it has no enemies but is a friend to all. Love is what holds this world together and it will never leave us as it rests in our heart.