Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

angry heart: juggling change & compassion ~

The hardest thing I face daily is juggling. I’m not good at letting things go, in case you haven’t already figured that out :). So this whole learning how to love/ beginner’s heart thing is HARD. Far too often I want to smack somebody uppaside the head, as my Aunt Bonnie would say.

So this article from the Buddhist quarterly Tricycle is very timely. It’s all about juggling. The incredibly difficult type, the spiritual equivalent of five balls in the air. Where I’m trying to reconcile my desire to change things w/ my knowledge I have to do with love and compassion. What to do, in other words, when the system itself is corrupt, and you really believe that one person’s inner change is not enough…


The author, David Edwards, argues that “The problem is that while we are struggling on an individual basis toward selflessness and compassion, vast systems of economic and political power are working to undermine the process.” I agree, Mr. Edwards. So…what do you recommend? What can I do? Besides posting a new tirade to Facebook?

I recycle. I buy Fair Trade, when possible.  So that others have access to decent wages and living conditions. I vote w/ my $$ — I don’t shop places w/ bad work practices, or bad politics. And I’m trying to buy less overall. But it’s not enough, I know. Too often I do what’s easy :(.


But just how do I negotiate the obstacle-strewn, bumpy backroad of compassionate activism? There’s a term for this in Buddhism — engaged Buddhism. And of course Unitarians have been about social justice/ social action since the get-go :). If there is anything I’m learning as I explore this idea of Beginner’s Heart, it is that we have to infuse love even into our justifiable anger. We have to try to meet people in their good intentions, I’ve always believed.


What we do when their intentions seem driven by greed, or profit, or short-term gain is where I lose perspective. How do you love the oil company willing to sacrifice the safety of its workers (BP) to save $$? Two different switches would quite possibly  have averted the multi-BILLION $$ tragedy of the Gulf oil spill. How do I engage w/out anger?

Obviously I have no easy answer(s). I navigate much like I drive: carefully. With attention and mindfulness. And I try to remember that the journey is the point. But it’s a LOT easier in my 10-year-old convertible than it is on the bigger journey …

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