Being raised as a Methodist during the early 60s, I was profoundly moved by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. I innately accepted and appreciated Jesus’ message of love, forgiveness, and sacrifice for others and truly wanted to live a life inspired by and worthy of Jesus.
I learned later in life this is not an easy mission. I always felt closest to our Creator when outdoors in nature, interacting with animals and plants, gardening, hiking, swimming, etc. and found it quite exasperating at times to have to deal with other human beings.
The irony of this conundrum did not escape me. How could I be like Jesus, and live like Jesus, and be of service when other people were so challenging to be around? I became very good at being a doer of good deeds and extremely fond of making personal sacrifices for the intended benefit of others. I thought of myself as a loving, giving, and kind person who was frequently moved to lend my support to perceived “under dogs” and victims of any number of abuses from other people, social injustice, hard times, etc.
What was inescapable however; in my consciousness remained a division between me, the obvious “GOOD GUY”, and “THEM”. This also challenged not only my world view, but also my integrity and congruity. I realized I could not be authentically “Christ like” and as passionately angry and judgmental as I knew myself to be.
I grappled with the question of how can I be the embodiment of love, acceptance, compassion, and LIGHT when I categorize the people around me in a dichotomous way through my own judging mind? I sought a more peaceful path and studied Buddhism for decades.
Eventually I began to really accept and believe on a very deep level that these perceived separations, represented by what appear to be the individual nature of human beings, is really an illusion. Practicing the “Compassion Meditation” transformed so much of what had been not fitting for me. We all have fears and sadness. We all seek to avoid pain and be safe. We all want to feel loved.
It was easy to feel love and compassion for people who had been harmed, exploited, or otherwise wronged and assign fault and take righteous action against the perceived perpetrator, system, bigot, homophobe, etc. What was not so easy or obvious was to see everyone as being connected through our humanity, each of us doing the best we can with what we have and what we know.
I am still learning these important lessons, and trust I will get to the place where I am better able to treat myself as well as I want to treat others. I know that when I get to that level of compassion and love, what I offer to others will be even more beneficial because it will come from our Source, the LOVE that truly is the greatest power of them all!
Bonnie D. Clark