Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Blessing

May this summer bring you much happiness and a renewed sense of connectedness.

May family and class reunions renew your bonds with family and friends.
May festivals, fairs, and block parties help you embrace your sense of community.
May vacations help you restore your connection with your deeper purpose and joy.

May you celebrate nature’s wonder.
May you see the Divine Mystery in the flight of butterflies, dragonflies, fireflies and birds.
May you feel the sweet sense of anticipation as you watch plants slowly emerge from the soil.
May your body be nurtured with fresh fruits and vegetables.
May your soul be nurtured with the sight of beautiful flowers.
May your heart be nurtured by the songs of birds.

May you know deep down that you are connected with the Divine and all of life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Deserving Compassion

Once in awhile I wonder whether suffering is a competitive sport. I will hear a speaker trying to convince listeners that their life is the toughest, as though it invalidates the suffering of anyone else. Too often I have heard that someone does not deserve compassion. I have a friend who is in her mid-eighties and has problems with her esophagus, and people have actually said that she does not deserve compassion because she was bulimic when she was younger. After Hurricane Katrina I heard people say that the survivors didn’t deserve sympathy because they should have known better than to live in an area prone to floods. When there were some catastrophes in other countries, I was told that it was inappropriate to pray for the people because the United States has problems of its own.

Of course, the reverse is also true. We can feel burnt out by all the suffering in the world. We can also downplay our own suffering or feel undeserving of compassion because other people have it worse than we do.

Metta, a Buddhist prayer that invokes loving-kindness, is a way of addressing the fact that we all suffer and we all deserve compassion. Many people incorporate it into their daily lives. Some people use it when they are going through a difficult time. Many books and Internet sites contain the full-length version, which will differ slightly from source to source. I encourage you to read more if you are interested. A short version of Metta can be used as a quick prayer when we encounter suffering. I like the idea of also offering compassion to ourselves while we are offering compassion to others. The version below is taken from The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, an excellent book by Christopher K. Germer, PhD.

May we be safe.
May we be happy.
May we be healthy.
May we live with ease.