Tonglen. To breathe in the way of the world, as it is, and release in its stead, compassion.
Why bother? I ask this question frequently, often in despair, clinging to my equanimity.
Time was when I would wander to Waverly Park to walk pond’s edge but now I sit at Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s pond, one of mind but with ripples no less revelatory, if I wait for them to still.
Only in clear reflection, he tells me, do I find what is true, such a loaded word (his) but I have no other for it. My own experience tells me those moments of clarity, of mindfulness, reveal all I am. Not necessarily easy on the eyes.
I work at not picking apart others’ words, such rabbit holes those are, but I need to work harder. “Waiting and letting” the ripples still reveals a clear reflection. When I don’t believe I need to be shown all there is, what I offer in response falls far short.
I know I can’t change the world so why act like it? Compassion does not parade itself. Like the Tonglen, it is a practice. That’s it. Daily ripples. There’s no applause just revelation.
I don’t have answers. I stopped looking for them long ago. I don’t lack for questions, however; theirs is a healthy competition for my attention. Meditation helps me review them but sometimes I get too attached. Easy to be pulled one way or the other, at first breath.
It is not for me to change anyone but knowing their pain changes me because now, I am aware. Quickly, I search for some similar experience or feeling, not to offer as a response but to remember of what I am capable. And not all of that is good.
I don’t think compassion is guaranteed. It seems more like an ever-present possibility but with boundaries. The more difficult the moment, the more precise the drawn line, always in appreciation of the attention it is getting.
Compassion is quite comfortable with silence as a response, again attending to what is possible without need of a spotlight. No breaking news here. And that seems misunderstood maybe because it’s true.
Such is clear reflection, never sure of what I will see but not disappointed, not really. There are times I am utterly surprised at how I am revealed at pond’s edge, especially my flaws, but I haven’t lost my compassion.
And that is what scares me most because without equanimity, I am another war zone, the next mass shooting, trolling to hurt. Everyone has a troll suit in their closet. Everyone.
I breathe in the way of the world, waiting for what rises, letting the ripples still at pond’s edge.
That is the practice.