That Which We Choose, We Give.
This morning, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite passages from the poet, William Butler Yeats. Though simple in construct, it offers an invaluable insight into the bodhisattva’s courage:
“We can make our minds so like still water,” he writes. “that beings gather about us to see their own images,
and so live for a moment with a clearer,
perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our silence.”
As we look out into the conflicts of this world, it’s easy to see how our emotions might be triggered. Through the subtleties of our daily interactions to the grander scale of unfathomable visions, as humans we are prone to reaction; a response often formulated within the roots of compassion.
There are many aspects to compassion, some that we know quite well. Whether a gentle softening of heart or a profoundly visceral response, compassion evokes a call to action…a response equitable to the emotions we feel.
Sometimes, this action conveys a positive influence. We might reach forward to comfort a crying child, or offer food to a local homeless shelter. In this case, compassion invokes a positive influence.
But, what of the other ‘side’?
Imagine witnessing a gross injustice. How did it make you feel? You may have been drawn to an outburst of anger, which (believe it or not) can be similarly rooted in compassion.
Yet, what is it that defines the two? It is quite literally the line between ‘self’ and ‘selfless’. In the former, we are guided by the tone of ‘why me?’. While, in I’m the latter, we ask ‘what can I do?’.
You see, compassion can take on many uniquely compelling forms. Like
Avalokiteshvara (the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion) with a thousand outstretched arms – each embracing a different instrument or tool. What matters most is our intention; rather, how do we adapt compassion to attract new light.
In stillness, we find the answer: to engage towards a clearer vision. In the end, that which we choose – we give.
In peace, my sweet friends…