Thursday, March 29, 2012

Those of Compassion

I love reading things in very different places that I see mirroring each other. For example, two women, following different spiritual paths, write about legends from those paths, and I see similarities in the different legends that they write about.

Rachel Naomi Remen (see my posts, Blessings, 3/9/10, and More Blessings, 3/23/10) tells the legend of the Lamed-Vov. (I have written this up in More Blessings and will quote some from that.) "In this story, God tells us He will allow the world to continue as long as at any given time there is a minimum of thirty-six good people in the human race. People who are capable of responding to the suffering that is part of the human condition. ... If there are fewer than thirty-six such people alive, the world will come to an end."

She was told this story by her grandfather and when she asks him if he knew who these Lamed-Vov (the thirty-six) were, he replies, "Only God knows who the Lamed-Vovniks are. Even the Lamed-Vovniks themselves do not know for sure the role that they have in the continuation of the world, and no one else knows it either. They respond to suffering, not in order to save the world but simply because the suffering of others touches them and matters to them." Rachel Remen goes on to say that the Lamed-Vovniks could be anyone, anywhere. "What mattered was only their capacity to feel the collective suffering of the human race and to respond to the suffering around them."

Finally she asks her grandfather what the Lamed-Vovniks need to do to keep the human race safe. His answer is, "They do not need to *do anything. They respond to all suffering with compassion. Without compassion, the world cannot continue. Our compassion blesses and sustains the world."

This story resonates with me and reminds me of another story from Joanna Macy that she writes about in her book World As Lover, World As Self (see my post, World As Lover, 1/15/10, for more). Here the legend is of the Shambala Warriors which she learned about from a Tibetan Rinpoche in northern India. In brief, the story goes: "There comes a time when all life on Earth is in danger. ... In this era ... the kingdom of Shambala begins to emerge.
"... it is not a place ... It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambala warriors... [you can't] recognize a Shambala warrior... for they wear no uniform, or insignia, and they carry no banners.
"...the Shambala warriors go into training... in the use of two weapons. ... The weapons are compassion and insight."

Two different stories, from two different traditions, Judaism and Buddhism, yet I see several parallels. The first is that both of them are about special folks, each of which uses compassion to save the world. A second is that you can't tell them from anyone else. In some ways I see them as the same story, about people, perhaps even unknown to each other, who heal the world with their compassion. Any of us could be part of the Lamed-Vov or the Shambala warriors. Maybe everyone who brings love, compassion, insight, and clear thinking to trying to make the world a better place is part of this select band. And perhaps that even includes you.

Quote of the Day: "You have to have compassion because it gives you the juice, the power, the passion to move. When you open to the pain of the world you move, you act. But that ... by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need ... insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena. ... With insight into our profound interrelatedness, you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, too conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of compassion. Together ... these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of the world." - Joanna Macy

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This is My Brain on Concepts

Unfortunately, I think I'm winding down on this blog. Not because I don't have more to say, but because I'm getting involved in other things. I will have more to say about my current situation later.

But I'm still always thinking about things.

At work, I was given a program so I could diagram a process I was using in order for someone to create a system that could support it. Which was fine, but I only used the program once and it's been sitting on my desktop since. Then I read something about using ideas as building blocks and I started thinking about all the concepts I was interested in. The result was that I used the program to diagram what I was thinking and all the interconnections between the stuff.

This is what I came up with:

Yeah, this is what goes on in my head much of the time.

Quote of the Day: "Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas still waiting in the wings to save us... There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves - along with the renewed courage to try them out." - Audre Lorde