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Entries in spirituality (2)

Jul012016 is the heart-seed of compassion…

It is interesting how life can take you by surprise.  Just when you feel like you have things figured out, and that you are finally moving forward and understanding yourself, life comes along and drops some stuff in your lap to review.  


Wow, I thought I had worked through that stuff…..maybe not…..the fact that it is here means it is important to work on…..what is it asking me to do?!?

In my case, it was a lovely series of memories of my anger.  Anger towards the ones I love, to those who could defend themselves and against those who could not.  But most of all it was anger toward my own innocence.  To my own sense of who I was, to my own inner being.  The starkest memory was of a generous soul who taught me about unconditional love in the most in your face manner possible, my dog Paddy.  He was a lovely German Shorthair Pointer that was found in the Oquirrh Mountains in Utah scratching for something to eat.  Nancy brought him back to me as I was working at the weekend clinic on post and said, ‘Here, I found you a dog!’ and indeed she had. 

He was a fantastic dog, loyal, humble, playful, and loving.  As an owner I had my ups and downs, and one of my biggest downs was in the harshness of my training of him.  That is the gem that life dropped into my lap, an opportunity to look back at the highlight reel of harsh training methods from my current perspective, and it was gut wrenching.  However, it was the gut wrenching starkness of that review that led to the most profound healing.  In looking at how magnificently Paddy continued to love me despite my actions I had a glimpse at the unconditional nature of love.  As I reflected up on that unconditional nature of love, I was able to see so many others in my life who had loved me as deeply and as unconditionally in spite of my actions, they saw me as I was, deep inside, and looked past those aspects of me that were not bright shiny moments.  The loved me beyond my actions and in spite of my glaring imperfections.  They found me worthy of that love even when I did not find myself worthy of such love, and certainly did not have any for myself in that time.

In looking at these moments something becomes very clear, that in each of these moments I was doing the very best that I was capable of doing, and that if I could have done better I would have.  It is this knowing, that is the ground for forgiveness.  It is this knowing that even my worst was still the best I had at that time, in those moments, and if I had been capable of anything better at that moment I would have brought that forward.  Forgiveness is seeing that aspect of every action and interaction, it is seeing that in every moment you do the best that you are capable of, and being gentle with yourself if that best appears awful.  It is accepting and loving the one who could only do so much from the knowledge that in that moment, this is all they were capable of doing.  It is looking into that moment and giving yourself that unconditional love as Paddy, and as so many did for me.  It is looking into that moment and seeing past that action, seeing without judgment, seeing it for what it is, the best you had in that moment, and loving the one who could not do any better at that moment in time.  

When you step into that space where you can love the ones who seem so unlovable, it is here that your compassion arises.  In looking within, with compassion and knowing that you did your very best in every moment, you start to see those around you in the very same light.  You see actions that look very much like your own, and realize, ‘they are doing the best they can, if they could do better they would’. You see people where they are, in their struggles, and realize they are doing the very best that they can, and so you can love them where they are for they are doing their best, if they could do any better they would.

So, as you sit and meditate, do not shy away from the gifts that life drops into your lap.  They are brought to you for a reason, they are brought at the perfect time, and they arrive to further the healing of your soul.  Love whatever arises, knowing that in any given moment, you are in fact doing the very best that you can, and that there are so many around you who see this, know this, and love you just as you are.  In time, you become the one who loves yourself as well.

For a wonderful talk on compassion that touched my heart and resonnated deeply, see Matt Kahn's talk


Where is your expectation today? Or Where did all these Miatas come from?

We often see what we are looking for, in fact, I would say that it is very hard to NOT see what you are looking for, it is what I call the Mazda Miata effect.  I rarely saw Miata’s on the road when I did not own one, but the minute I purchased one, they seemed to pop up all over the landscape.  It is not like Mazda suddenly imported a glut of Miata’s to fill the landscape, they were always there, I just did not see them. 

Where we look is what we see.  What we expect is what we see, the things we see are the things we are looking for and the places we search. 

If you look for trouble, then you will find what you are looking for almost every time.  If you look for things to turn out badly, then things will turn out badly almost every time.  If you expect things to be difficult, then things will be difficult most all the time.  It is your expectation that colors your experience.  You are looking for Miatas and they are everywhere.  

I have had some wonderful opportunities to see what changing my expectation does for the way that i feel about a situation.  The best one I have had was in my work at the O’Leary Health Center when I switched from working for the government (salaried doctor) to a payment model where I was paid for each patient seen (fee for service).  In essence I went for working for someone to working for myself (any discussion about the toughness of the boss is really another post all together).  This switch happened on a weekend.  On Friday I was Salaried and on Monday I was Fee for Service.  Nothing else changed.  I was in the same office, with the same nurses and support staff, used the same examination rooms, saw the same patients and my schedule was the same as it had been for the previous year.  The only thing that ‘changed’ was how I was being paid and for ‘whom’ I was working.  Yet my attitude and point of view changed profoundly.  Suddenly it was no big deal to work someone in to my schedule.  I looked forward to work, and the work I was doing.  I felt like a weight had lifted of my shoulders.  I felt like my future was laid out ahead of me and it looked wonderful.  This was what I felt during lunch on that first day, and all I had done that day was work a usual Monday morning.  The thing that had changed was my point of view, my expectation, the way that I felt about the situation.  The fundamental reality of the day was no different, my point of view was different. 

This was the first of many understandings I have come to about the profound impact that our point of view has on how we feel about everything.  “Reality as we know it” is not the truth, the world around us has no meaning until we give it meaning.  The rain or snow has no meaning until we observe it and give it a meaning.  It might mean we stay in and rest, or it might mean a cancelled outing, either way it is just water falling form the sky, the meaning arises from within ourselves, and that meaning is the one thing that we have complete control over in our lives.

There are many ways to change your point of view about the world.  This lovely lady in her TEDx Talk speaks of how her point of view shifted dramatically from her near death experience.  Suddenly she was aware of a much bigger world, aware of the role that her perception of that world had upon her life.  She learned to change the way she looked at her world, her place in it, and the effect that her point of view had upon how the world seemed to present itself to her.  You can achieve this same thing without having to face near death to bring it about (and believe me when I tell you, having had a few near death experiences, it hurts far less to figure it out without trying to die first).  For centuries, monastics and other religious folk have used meditation to quiet the mind so that they could see the effect that their perception had on the view of the world. Past Life Regression, Hakomi Psychotherapy, Meditation, Mindfulness, Focus therapy, or just learning to pay attention to your thoughts are all methods of achieving this same heightened view of the world, and our place within that world.  They are all ways to see where we fit in, the effect of our point of view on the world that we see, and provide us with the knowledge to change who we are into who we wish to be. 

When we change the was that we choose to look at the world, then the world changes before our eyes.  Your point of view, the meaning that you give to the world will be the difference between the life that you have and the life that you prefer.  Change your point of view and you change everything.