This week I am thinking about the invisible thread that connects all life.
I see it as a web of interconnected silken fibers – not visible to the naked eye – but definitely visible to the spirit that inhabits each and every sentient being. Rock, flower, insect, fruit, tree — my sense is that there is no separation between us (our inner life) and the world “out there.” Like the water in which fish swim, the environment is part of us. We cannot breathe without it. We cannot live without acknowledging inter connectivity.
The earth is like a golden bee hive — humming, dripping — with life.
Our individual lives are part of that. We are also part of the stars, the cosmos, the outer-most edges of the Milky Way.
I’ve felt this sense of connection ever since I was a child. I saw myself in the eyes of others. I heard myself in their voices. I felt an animal softness, a kinship with all other living beings. To me, that was what it meant to know God, to understand the spirit of things, to pray.
I assumed that others were like me in their sensibilities.
I realize now, the world has two kinds of people. Those who see connection, and those who do not. There are people who see themselves as absolutely separate. They are convinced they are walking sacks of cells, nothing more. They bear no relation to others, near or far. Whatever they do, they do for themselves. They are kings and queens. They are at the center of the wheel. No one else matters. Because they see no line of connection, they feel their long-term actions do not matter. Their impact holds no sway with them.There is just this one life, this one chance to to eat up the world.
To drill and frack and poke and suck up everything they can. To win the game. To rapaciously rake up and hoard everything they find.
They never seem to notice that no matter how much they have, they want more. And more. And more. Their spiritual bankruptcy, their emptiness: filling it is their only goal. The thing is — that kind of hunger — can never be assuaged by stuff.
In Buddhism there are ten ‘worlds’ (or life conditions) that affect humanity: hell, hunger, animality, anger, humanity, rapture, learning, realization, Bodhisattva and Buddhahood. Many people spend lifetime after lifetime after lifetime circling the drain in the lower worlds (hell, hunger, animality, anger) never experiencing the life of the heart or the mind. They are reactive to their environment, often seeing it as a hostile place. And they are stuck. Truly. They cannot find their way out of the lower worlds because they cannot transform their lives without first seeing their reality clearly.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~ The Dalai Lama
I realize that those of us who do see connection, who do see the gossamer strands of DNA that forge bonds between all life, must share our view with as many people as possible. One’s pure core is not an easy place to find, especially when you’ve lost yourself in a wilderness of life experiences that have left you feeling completely separate and alone. However, it is possible to open a door or a window into the darkness of that sense of separation.
At the center of all life is a beautiful, pure core. It is called a Buddha nature.
And all life — yes all — possesses it.
Even while strolling the halls of hell, one can discover glimmers of enlightenment. Even while roasting in anger or slathering in greed, there is an aspect of enlightenment. I have to remind myself that I must meet myself — and others — where they are. Not where I wish they were.
“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” ~ Thomas Merton
So, everyday I learn. I learn patience. I learn humility. I learn compassion. Everyday, I rise with the spirit of never giving up on myself or on others. We can all change. While we are still living, it is never too late.
© 2012 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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