As we head more deeply into the dark time of the year, I feel the inward turning of my heart—into the quiet, wordless sanctuary. This is not a withdrawn place or an isolating stance, such as the ego formulates in order to lick its wounds. Rather, the inward movement of my heart drops the busyness and comes to rest in sheer naked being, inhabiting and inseparable from both the human and formless realms. These two realms only separate in my perception when that is what I construct. Of course, they are never actually separate. Resting in the simplicity of open presence, the peace that also never leaves is present, allowing me too luxuriate in it. On a subtle level, I notice a habitual pattern that thinks it is not enough to just rest here.
This November in California my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones or their homes in the fires. In the Bay Area we suffered with terrible air, but that is so minor compared to the losses many have endured. And also in my heart and prayers are all those who also lost much in the hurricanes, those in violent areas, those starving, and migrants fleeing for their lives, as well as many others facing hardships. Our open hearts and loving actions are needed more than ever. It heartens me to see how many reach out to assist others, how much loving kindness there is.
Thanksgiving, our best American transcultural and spiritual holiday that crosses all our differences, gives us an opportunity to be grateful together, to reflect and appreciate what we have. I often notice that along with the danger and the beauty of the natural world, often our mother earth holds us in peace. She holds so much else for us too- so much possibility is open to us in her peace—even boredom. When we, as human beings find ourselves in a treacherous situation, there is no chance for boredom, no chance to allow the subterranean creativity to emerge in its own time. No time to let love grow slowly in our hearts. No time to just be. Again and again the peace and beauty remind me that many of our human family do not have peace in their surroundings and the beauty of the natural world has been compromised. Our sightless utilitarian power games leave destruction in their wake. At this moment in time, the inevitable impermanence that is always present has been amped up by global warming. More and more people have lost loved ones and/or had their homes damaged. My heart goes out to them. So far in the Bay Area, we have been fortunate. It is so important to appreciate the outer peace when she is here, and to move through whatever blocks us from being able to rest in the inner peace that is always here.
Facing the poignancy of our situation, I am uplifted when I experience the selfless goodness of the human heart. Tears flow from my eyes, infrequently when it’s something personal, regularly when I see and feel people’s hearts opening to each other, to themselves, to animals. As humans we have written and played exquisite music, built mosques, cathedrals, temples whose sublime magnificence can quiet the mind and point the way to something beyond. In the arts, in philosophy, in contemplation, in many fields, we have reached great heights of achievement. Witnessing the enduring love of the human heart draws me, inspires me to be of service in the best way I can. Witnessing the suffering, the almost unbearable challenges that many people face, not only brings forth my compassion, but it humbles me, reminds me that any of us, at any moment, could be in entirely changed circumstances. At that time, as it says in our Buddhist texts, only dharma, truth, can help us. Let us explore and come to truth, come to rest in the truth that liberates us, that always provides peace, love, and contentment. Let us give thanks, again and again, for our opportunities and for that which truly hold us, that which truly is what we are—unlimited wisdom and love.
Love to all of you,