*Brian Wilcox. 'Opening of the Heart'. Flickr
The Heart, our essence, is love, is compassion. The journey of life is more and more to expand the embrace of those beings we welcome within ourselves, even those who may see themselves as our enemies. Our true nature is this love, and, with intent, the heart opens like the unfurling of petals to be the lovely blossom.
True life begins not at conception, not even at birth, but when we love. Love is our pulse.
Phillip Gulley. Unlearning God: How Unbelieving Helped Me Believe.
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A farmer requested a Zen priest to recite sutras, or Buddhist scriptures, for his wife, who had died. After the recitation, the farmer asked, "Do you think my wife will gain merit from this?"
"Not only your wife, but all sentient beings will benefit from the recitation of sutras," replied the priest.
Said the farmer, "My wife may be very weak and others will take advantage of her, getting the benefit she should get. So, please recite sutras just for her.”
The priest explained that it was the desire of a Buddhist to offer blessings and wish merit for every living being.
"That is a fine teaching," said the farmer, "but please make one exception. I have a neighbor who is rough and mean to me. Just exclude him from all those sentient beings."
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Yesterday, I was driving to a meeting in Silence at a Quaker meeting house. A driver behind me had become impatient, wanting me to go faster. When arriving at my turn-off to the meeting house, I slowed down to turn. This driver, a male, I could tell by his voice, pulled up near to the side of my truck, and he yelled hatefully and very loud. I was in my truck, windows up, and it was still very loud. The loudness and rudeness was somewhat disturbing to me, especially as I was calm. So, it was shocking to my before peaceful body.
So, later, when in Silence with others, I recalled the Metta Meditation, where we can include in prayerful blessing, offering metta, or compassion, for even persons whom we may not like. We do this for persons who are unkind to us or consider they are our enemies, for they are suffering, even as we are. So, I offered blessing for this being, and I recalled he must have been suffering much inwardly in his life, not just the short time he had driven behind me, for him to yell such anger toward me, a person whom he does not know personally. Yet, still, I realized that I needed to include him in the time with Silence, for we cannot withhold blessing from anyone and follow the Way of compassion rightly. We are to include ourselves, as well, and including ourselves in compassionate prayerfulness may be the most difficult being to include, for often we find it easier to be compassionate toward others, less harsh, than with ourselves.
So, as I said, yesterday, when we allow the opening of the heart, this means to all beings. We are not to be like the farmer who wants merit only to whom he chooses. Yes, even those mosquitoes who were attacking me after my arrival to the meeting house, they are to be included in the embrace of my heart with the yelling, angry man.
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The sage Jesus speaks of this love, or what many Buddhists call bodhichitta ("awakened, compassionate heart"), in what is called the Sermon on the Mount, in the Christian Bible...
You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters (i.e., friends, spiritual family), what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect (or, whole), therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
So, what happens when the rain falls? Does it fall only on the land of those you consider good persons? So, it falls indiscriminately? This is the divine Love, says Jesus. So, we can learn about Love from the rain.
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After September 11, 2001, in New York City, there were reactions blaming all Muslims. Also, prayers were being offered and persons expressing compassion, but few seemed interested in doing that for Muslims. I encouraged the congregation I served to offer prayer for them, as well. We were all suffering, not just citizens of the United States. A dear Christian lady met me, leaving church worship that Sunday after the eleventh, and she voiced complaint to me at the prejudice of persons in refusing to be prayerful and compassionate toward Muslims. She never returned to the church. Can I blame her? No. She wanted to belong with a people who were concerned both for Christians and Muslims, both for the United States and the world, including the Arab nations. That was my plea to the people I served, but I was, so to speak, fighting an up-hill battle. I was speaking to persons who felt deep hurt and, likely, some so-called righteous indignation. Yet, how could we follow the wisdom of Jesus and without prayer and compassion for our Muslim brothers and sisters, including those who chose to see themselves as enemies of our nation or enemies of the Christian faith. How can we rightly pray for those we love, if we do not likewise pray for those we struggle to love, or maybe even have not yet come to love?
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I agree with Philip Gulley, a Quaker, in our opening quote saying, "Love is our pulse." Yes, we only truly live, not merely exists, when we love. Our nature is Love, for we come from Love to love. Yet, this does not mean we can get persons to love by commanding them to love or moralizing about love. We, first, when struggling to love anyone or any people, or any creature, must want to know that love. So, one could say, "I really do not want to love that person?" Well, that is a good place to begin. We can start by praying or meditating the compassion, the love, we do not see we have. Then, the love will arise, for we have unlocked the door for Love to be welcomed in. When the heart opens, love is already present. Then, the extent of our compassionate embrace can grow, as we grow closer and closer to Love. Then, we find joy in the love for those we did not love before. And a sweet, peaceful joy it is!
*Brian Wilcox. 'Celebrating the Light' no. 2. Flickr
I was surprised that this blossom had positioned itself in this way.
A bud is drawn by the light to open, and a flower opens to the light. All forms of life are celebrations of the Light. We are here not to survive, but enjoy and celebrate the Light, which is not separate from the precious, brief human existence we each have received as a gift.
*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
Quote from Philip Gulley, Unlearning God, is from an uncorrected proof.