A voicehearer’s path ~

Posts tagged ‘caring’

Cute ~

Puppies and Kittens

As that one woman in your office can tell you (or if you are her, no need), cute pictures of snuggly, doe-eyed little critters touch a soft spot in us humans. Baby schema — the set of features that make young animals appealing, like big eyes and a head too big for the body — have been shown in experiments to capture people’s attention, make them smile and even induce caregiving to others. Oh sure, the boss may seem tough, but one look at a basket full of puppies and he’ll want to rub you right on your little belly.

A study published online this week by the journal PloS ONE suggests that viewing cute images not only makes people feel better, but improves performance in completing certain tasks.

Oh my! A study to explain why might show something that the wise ones have been saying for millenia. Genuine compassion is what is needed for this world to function better. Lol, I know that seems a bit simplistic, but it’s true. When we care, we are careful. Anything evoking that caring part of our personalities will function to bring us into a state of mind that will cross our “t”s and dot our “i”s with more precision. We can be as efficient in many ways as a surgical machine, but without compassion, we are just going about our tasks on automatic drive. That’s why we cannot find a way to make a computer surpass a good Doctor’s worth when it comes to patient care.

I love the very thought of this. It so completely shows that we are in need of compassion, even in the mundane tasks of the day. The more we care, the more careful we are, even when it comes to tying our shoes. I suspect that this was marketing research for anime that simply surprised those conducting the study regarding the deeper implications of it. But how magnificent is that? A simple market study about cuteness finds that we as humans are hardwired to function better when the caring part of our personalities is tapped! I dare say that you will find with deeper study that this is why those who can harm animals easily and without purpose are inclined to become serial criminals of a violent and harmful nature.

Compassion is teachable! It is important to begin the teaching in early childhood. If we do this, we will enhance our existence beyond our wildest imaginings, and find true happiness is something that can be unleashed here on Earth.

Hatred, anger, interference, why?

MB1There was a question on Daily Buddhism that is one that baffles all who have entered a path of enlightenment, no matter the faith of origin or place in the world at large. When one makes choices that go contrary to the social “norm”, one is sometimes accosted by physically or verbally violent reactions from others. The question was how to deal with this. But my question for many years has simply been, why?

I come from a Christian background, but about 25 years ago gave up on the sect I was with, feeling that they could not or would not follow Y’shua’s teachings to love. The general actions of the congregants seemed, in fact, to be something quite the opposite, at least of the person was not of “Our Church”. The insistence was that we were not to love those who were outside the faith, as they were apostate and “not really human”, well, that was never said, but that was the feeling one got.

My problem was that Y’shua had dealt with just that phenomenon. His comment was that “Publicans love their own, what benefit to us if we behaved no better?” That’s a paraphrase, but then everything read from the manuscripts is paraphrased in order for us to understandJesus the wording and syntax of the sentences. But, there it is, what do we benefit if we behave in a manner that is like those who follow no spiritual path of any kind?

In my explorations after that, I found that the Buddhists as a rule were more obedient to those teachings than those who followed the Christ. It was in looking at why they were obedient to Christ, when Christ’s own seemed unable, that I began to realize that there is this “position” that the human spirit adapts all too easily. That is, “I am right, you are wrong, you must suffer.”  This way of looking at the position of others as ”wrongness” that somehow affects one’s own well-being, indeed, seems rampant in the Western world.

Such an attitudes still puzzles me. There seem to be two extremes here in the West. Either there is an intense caring of what others think to the intent to control those thoughts, or be controlled by them, or there is an extreme diffidence that borders on a sort of personality disorder of detachment from all connection with others; neither is healthy. If we maintain an attitude of what I have learned to think of as compassionate detachment, we can cope with the daily struggle without letting it overload us.

So, what is that? It’s the willingness to look at the behavior of others as “their issue”, knowing that there is little we can do to “make” them see the world differently without some manipulation of their world or ours, while deeply caring that they are happy in so far as it lies within our purvue. Happiness comes from within. We cannot “make” someone else truly happy. We can do our best to please them, or at least not to offend them, but we cannot make them feel contentment within. That is something they must discover for themselves.

I still don’t know why we are so bound in this part of the world to insist that others live their lives by our rules. The only thing that makes any buffalowhite3sense to me is that it is quite possible the unhappy one has chosen a life other than the one they truly wanted in order to meet someone else’s expectations, and the “different one’s” choice to live an idiosyncratic life hits a soreness within. That is sad. But it makes a sort of strange sense, doesn’t it?

It is for this reason that I respect a Native American teaching imparted to me by my Lakota and Shawnee teachers. “Follow your own truth”. You are expected to do this prayerfully and respectfully of others, but you are expected to find the path you are to walk from within yourself, not from what others want of you. It seems to me to be a right way to live. I hope someday our culture will evolve enough to teach that to our children.

All My Relations ~

allmyrelationsThere is a Lakotan phrase which traslates into the words of the title. It is a concept that comes back to me time and time again as I see the news, or when in conversation with others. It doesn’t just mean other humans, either. It means all of life, most especially on this planet, as that is our “neighborhood”. The concept is that all of life is from one source, therefore, all are related, all are “family”, there are really no strangers, there are just relatives to whom you have not been introduced.

I am aware that this is not always a pleasant concept if you extrapolate it completely out to it’s farthest extreme, for it means that one is related to Mother Theresa, St. Pious the pope, a grasshopper, Hitler, Y’shua, Buddha, Mohamed, a butterfly, Jeffrey Dahmer, and all of humanity and beyond. One wouldn’t mind being related to Mother cockroachTheresa, or a butterfly, but what about Dahmer or Hitler, or a cock roach. yuck! But, we must meet the pleasant with the unpleasant.

There is another factor. If I look at Hitler as a brother gone very badly awry, I may still be inclined to stop him any way I can because such horror visited upon humanity must cease, but I quake as I do this, knowing that it is my brother I condemn to death because he has gone horribly wrong in his perceptions and ways. I no longer must be punitive in what I do. I must be kind, and hope that all ends as well as possible for all concerned, for there are no good answers when a human looses their capacity for empathy if they ever had it.

And there, in the word empathy, lies the key to all that comes about. When a human being has no empathy, no capacity to stand in the place of another and experience, even for a moment, the good and the bad of being that other person, there opens an entire array of child-abusedark things that become possible for that human to do, that simply otherwise would not even be on the horizon.

So . . . . .

Can empathy be taught? Is it drummed out of a child by neglect or abuse? How do we find ways for this incredibly necessary concept to become part of all human beings? There, I believe is the place where the teachings of the Masters comes into play. Y’shua and Buddha both taught compassion for all, on a moment by moment basis. Not to just high personages of status or means, but everyone. The beggar on the corner, the child, the stranger, the neighbor, all must be treated with kindness.

And though we cannot allow the murderer access to the tools by which he might return to murder as a way of life, even here there must be compassion, albeit firm with unbending discipline, it is only as we see the wisdom of the masters, it is only as we learn to practice the concept of the Lakota people, the Tatanka Oyate, and see all as our relations that we can begin to hope that someday, somewhere on our planet, there will be a shift in consciousness, and all will understand, Mitakuye Oyasin.

All My Relations, Aha!

Sacred Space ~

medwhlI love the medicine wheel, it is always part of my thinking, now. I will try  to translate the Native wisdom so that you can understand and participate in this way of life  without appearing to be trying to rob their spirituality. The Lakota and Shawnee teachings are those with which I am most familiar, and though they approach the wheel each from opposite directions, their ways are still quite compatible. One of the reasons I have been reluctant to share this as part of the path I walk is that a pale face, like myself, just looks silly running around in ribbon shirts and feathers in their braids. So, though I want to discuss the concepts of the NA way of life, it is with the idea of incorporating these  concepts into your own perspective, not to make you into a NA wannabe.

As I understand it, (and that must always remain in your awareness, I am not a holy woman, picture1nor am I a “shaman”, I cannot turn out other “shamans” off an assembly line because you need to be one to teach it. I am a mystic, who has found the Native awareness of Spirit to be so completely on target, that once exposed to their teachings, they became a part of my practice.) life is seen to be lived on a series of circles, each of us having our own personal circle, and all life forms each having their own circle. The awareness of this first brought me to an understanding of Sacred Space that I had never seen in other forms of spirituality.

Sacred Space then became something of a point of study. I wanted to understand this concept as it applied to me. Above and to the right you see a series of concentric circles, the outer one is yellow, for openness, as this is where your sacred space meets the rest of the world, and you  must interface with what comes your way, whether in work or daily life, i.e. fellow workers, clerks in stores, supervisors, delivery people. The only choices you have here are the simple ones, as in where you go and the people with whom you choose to do business. The next circle is green, still open, but much more selective, for here in this circle are your acquaintances and family, people with whom you have things in common, but do not want into your most intimate space. The next circle is your truly most sacred circle, here are those you trust with all that you are and hope to be.

win_win_relationshipI was taught to take three pieces of paper, marking each one with the color of the circle represented, i.e. mark with yellow marker or the word yellow, whichever works with your circumstances. Here list all those with whom you have daily or weekly commerce that are not your most intimate friends. In fact, work with all three papers at the same time, sorting who goes where according to where you want them to be in your life. If you have had a problem with boundaries, that is not necessarily where they are in your little corner of the world, and you may need to make two sets of lists, so that you can see what you need to work on to get your world in balance.

When there is someone farther out than you want them to be or closer than you want them to be, you need to look at the why’s of the issue, so that you can gently, and without fuss, relationshipfind a way to readjust your world so that they occupy the space in your life that you want them to. When you are wanting someone to be closer to you, you must also be absolutely certain that they want to be closer also, if they do not, do not mess with them. Give space to others in the same manner that you want space given to you! I found a similar relationship map at a circles network. Please feel free to use whichever map works best for you, and by all means, if you find you are entangled and cannot find gentle ways out of bad situations, find a relationship counselor who can help you find the highest and best way to refine your relationships.

Remember, the path I walk is learning to love all. This does not mean that all are in the innermost circle.  Love is the building block on which relationship is built. Consider carefully and choose consciously how you wish to live your life.

Courage and Wisdom ~

What I did not finish yesterday, because I got too wordy, is that Serenity is achieved via something the Buddhists refer to as detachment, but that implies an unhealthy lack of engagement in your surroundings. I have come to call this phenomenon compassionate disentanglement. You always maintain a caring attitude toward even those who would wrap you up in their melodramas. However, you maintain your own sacred space into which that melodrama cannot reach. This is not easy, as most of those who weave such melodramas are expert at wrapping others into their story.

One of the worst and most melodramatic is the victim, persecutor, rescuer triangle. This is a classic scenario and goes perfectly toward making to point of the Serenity prayer. The “victim” confides in you that he or she is in an abusive situation with another adult and is asking your advice, hoping you will help to find a way to rescue him/her. Many times the abuse is very real, and your heartstrings are twanging that this is simply not just. Most of all, if you are truly a spiritual being, your loving nature just can’t stand to see some one victimized in this way.

However, let me warn you. Should you come to the “rescue” and succeed in getting the abuser jailed or otherwise punished the “victim” will come to their rescue, and you will be the villain. Their storyline? “I didn’t mean for this to happen, I love “Henry”, I didn’t want him hurt.” And now you are the “bad guy”.

Remember the prayer, repeat it like a mantra. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” You and the victim can go to the public library, not your home unless this is someone you already know. Look up help for victims of violence, explore the websites with them and be supportive, but don’t be their “savior”.

You can get them counsel with appropriate officials who can help and also council the “victim” about their role in the melodrama. You can be supportive of them in this venture, for this is where they will need courage, as it is theirs to change and get out of the melodrama. That must come from within them; it is not something you can give them. If the person you are assisting backs away and doesn’t want to use this kind of help, dismiss the entire scenario from your mind, as it was not yours to help. (And indeed, might have been a setup to rob you.)

Do not, I repeat, do not go after “Henry”!

Always, as one who serves Spirit, be ready to help another find help of the right sort, but refrain from thinking of yourself in any saviorist role. You can connect others to the help they need, you can serve as a listening ear, with a loving heart. But the minute you are expected to take any action for or against a third party; start looking for places for them to get the help they need. This will, indeed, take more courage than giving “Henry” a black eye, but this is very much a part of discerning the difference between an area where you can help, and an area where you cannot. Have the Wisdom to stay compassionately disentangled.

There is another factor here. If you find yourself surrounded by this sort of melodrama, what are you doing to invite it? And if you are inviting it, are you doing so with the ability to lend a compassionate ear, or are you becoming embroiled in the melodrama, and therefore have become part of the problem?

This is why the 12 steps caution to look for what Spirit wants of and for you, not for you to go minding the sacred space of another. Most of us have had some form of dysfunction in our home lives. The rare ones are those who have not. Look to the needs of cleaning your own nest before you attempt to help your neighbor clean hers or his. When you read Y’shua’s caution on this, you think in terms of judgment, as that is the context of the comment, but it is important to remember that there is another facet to that gem.

You are not able to help others if you are still crippled by what you are carrying in your heart. Here, again, is where the “searching inventory” is necessary, in examining yourself daily, you can discern more readily what you can and cannot change. You will find that in communicating daily with Spirit, you will find the courage to change those things you can, and compassionately disengage from the scenario where you would only add to the problem. Another safeguard is to keep, always, a back-up. Someone human to whom you can talk that can help you stay objective so that you can do the most good, with the least amount of trauma to yourself or others.

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