Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Practice Compassion

a quiet place in my meditation garden

I've developed a pretty standard routine out here in the desert retreat house. Almost every morning I go out into my meditation garden and I see what bubbles up in me.

Today I recalled an image of something I recently observed as very emblematic of life in our contemporary American culture.

Recently I was having lunch in a local restaurant when I noticed something very odd. Sitting next to me was a family - mom, dad two teenage daughters.  But, instead of talking or laughing or engaging one another in any way, they sat together in complete silence as each one looked intensely at the screens of their smart phones, pecking away at the keyboards.  They were checking mail, sending out tweets, surfing the web and ignoring one another. This went on for the better part of the entire meal.

 It was, for me, very iconic. And it was also very sad.

It seems to me as if we live in an age where our technologies allow us  to be more connected to one another than perhaps any other time in the history of humankind. And yet, being connected to one another doesn't mean that we are in relationship with one another.

If I were to summarize the primary teaching of virtually every major world religion, it would be this: "Practice compassion!"

The practice of compassion involves respect for one another, treating one another with dignity and respect. Actually you can't practice compassion if your ego gets in the way. The practice of compassion involves a genuine sense that "I" and the "other" are one.  So I do for the "other" what I would do for "me."

You have to work at practicing compassion. It involves engaging others in relationships, sharing your life for the common good and the welfare of others - a far cry from  sharing information.

The Dalai Lama once said, " If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

Be happy!

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