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(In a World On Fire)

Tathālokā Therī

Dear friends, While walking, it struck me that the depth of the Path lies right here:

to take no offense.

The end of all violence lies here, and all hatred. The end of retribution and retaliation. The end of fear. How can we be so egoless? Or, as it might have been put in High School -- to be so spineless? For the backbone of the standing on the "I"-making that we call the ego and ego-reactivity is in a way like a spine -- a spiny rosebush with thorns jutting out in all directions, just waiting to be caught, to be snagged on something. Something that offends our sense of delicate ego and sense of pride. That offends our sense of self-hood and personhood. Or our sense of group identity -- whatever our identity may be attached to, or bound up in, or entangled and immersed in. Bringing ourself up out of this water and onto dry ground is like the alcoholic becoming clean and dry, sober -- free, fresh and clear of the pollutants and intoxicants that had swamped the cells of her body, co-opting her delicate nervous system and converting it to the purposes of the kilesas. These are the purposes of the defilements: nothing more than to feed on corruption, and being fed, to reproduce. This reproduction is the samsara-vata, like "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," as in the Old Testament. I appreciate Jesus' radical turn-around here, in asking us to turn the other cheek, or Aikido's asking us to simply and kindly step aside. Or the Buddha's "hatred never ends through hatred..." Or the Qu'ran's saying that we are made to know one another, not to despise one another (49:13). My heart trembles in compassion. For when offense is met with offense, how disaster ensues. How the more sad when good intentions are met with offense, unrecognized -- mistaken and destroyed. But when the deep intentions are known, deeply known, with love, compassion, pity, sympathy, mercy and appreciation; with respect for the shared depth of our predicament, for the fears, the grief, the sorrow, and the trials we share, together with the love and warmth of our human hearts -- it all changes. How can we see and know others thus? How can we see and know ourselves thus? How can we touch into that depth of heart in which we know the truth of all this? -- and in that great easing and relaxing, in that great releasing, in that compassion and that knowing -- know the emptiness in which nothing sticks or gets caught anywhere, and that fullness of abundant love that can meet pain with the very depths of pure loving kindness? This is the work of this path, the work of our hearts. For hatred never ends through hatred... What could be more urgent? -- when the world is on fire... What could be more urgent? -- than when for now, here, all is peaceful, but the underlying tendencies to affliction still linger and fester in our hearts, like fuel just waiting for a spark... What could be more urgent for the welfare of our children and all those that we love? What could be more urgent when we are in pain? We cannot be too busy. Being too busy is far too costly in the long run -- a cost hard to bear. We cannot be too busy, as there is no place, and no time, that this path cannot be cultivated, deepened, developed. There is no day in which we cannot learn, grow, develop in the Path of the Heart, and become safe -- the thorns removed. Or, like diamonds which were once the only thing to cut a diamond, so too, that penetrating tendency of the heart, when focused and well-applied, can itself become the rapier of insight that cuts cleanly and clearly through delusion, leaving us disentangled, unscathed, unburned. For the fires cool and come to an end in this deep mountain lake -- the fountainhead of the well-spring of the Dhamma, sometimes called the water of the spirit. Let us bring the fires of our heart here, and bathe ourselves deeply in this spring -- a spring and heart wide enough for everyone, in the garden of our hearts, to come and bathe together -- peacefully, when they are ready. But in our own hearts, we can bring them there now. May no one suffer further. May all conflict come to an end. At least here in my heart, that it may be a space and oasis of peace and healing in this world. With compassion, Tathālokā Therī out ~ in the Spotsylvania Woods Lake Anna, Virginia Dark Moon September 15, 2012

He abused me, he beat me, he robbed me, he stole from me: In those who harbor such thoughts, hatred never ends. He abused me, he beat me, he robbed me, he stole from me: In those who do not harbor such thoughts, hatred ends. For hatred never ceases through hatred, through love alone it ends -- This is an ancient law. The world does not know that we must all come to an end here -- In one who knows, the quarrels cease at that moment.

-- The Buddha, Dhammapada vv 3-6


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To Take No Offense

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