Walking to an appointment the other day, I passed a man who carried a large manila envelope filled with what looked like x-rays. Whatever they may actually have been, I imagined that he was going to or from a doctor’s appointment. That got me to thinking about how everyone has a story, everyone has experiences and circumstances at some point in their lives that challenge them as I imagined this man might be being challenged in his life right now.
This also got me to thinking about how important it is to remember that everyone—every human and every other living being—has the capacity to suffer and wants to be free from suffering. I found myself thinking about the importance of cultivating and strengthening my capacity for empathy, to nurture a habit of remembering that even people with whom I fervently disagree also want to be free from suffering, just as I do. What I find, again and again, is that insisting on orienting to empathy—which has nothing to do with agreeing with someone—can be very hard at times.Read More “746th Week: Everyone Has A Story”
In writing this practice, I don’t want to slide over into political perspectives or a polarized discussion. What I want to bring into this week’s practice is the saying that is found in most religions and spiritual traditions, adding up to “treat others as you would want to be treated.” I think this is probably one of the fundamental values of just about every spiritual approach I’ve learned about throughout my years of exploring spirituality and religion.
With the Internet and the polarized nature of our world at this time, it can be far too easy to respond to people in ways that would have been unimaginable only a decade or so ago. I’ve had people comment about things I’ve posted on Facebook in ways that have shocked, saddened, and surprised me. It’s as though we have learned to interact as individuals and as a culture as if it doesn’t matter what or how we communicate with one another.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to carry with you the request to “treat others as you would want to be treated” and, in addition, “treat others as you would want your loved ones to be treated.” Then, measure your words and actions against these statements and notice if you are following this most basic human ideal. By making this a practice akin to mindfulness, pay attention to what you discover about how much awareness, consideration, and choice you bring to how you respond to and treat others, to your words, your thoughts, your feelings, your actions.Read More “803rd Week: “Do Unto Others…””
I’ve written a number of times about a particular dog I run into in Central Park on many mornings as I walk to my office. She’s some kind of border collie and finds a great deal of delight in chasing and retrieving a Frisbee her human throws for her each morning. What she adds to her fun is to capture the attention of certain people who walk amongst trees along a small path near where she plays, and her relentless enthusiasm has caused many of us to risk being late to work to throw the Frisbee for her “just one more time.”
One morning, I walked along a different part of this particular area in the park, up a bit higher, amongst some pine trees, and I was able to watch her discover yet another person she chose to be her playmate for that morning. It was delightful to watch her enthusiasm when the woman picked up and threw the Frisbee for her. This dog’s human is always right nearby, but he has also learned that she enjoys including others in her morning ritual of play.
As I walked on across the park, I got to thinking about the many opportunities a day provides to connect with people, animals, plants, critters of every kind. Read More “710th Week: Catching Moments to Connect”