Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

Credit ~ Robert Gendler

I wish I thought the universe granted personal requests. That what I want matters in the huge scheme of things. If I knew of a sure-fire way to get the universe to pay attention (short of violence, which always triggers a reaction!), I would do the dance, sacrifice the goat (really), burn the incense. Unfortunately, my own belief system doesn’t lean that way. I don’t believe that personal desires are of much import to the system(s) behind everything.

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the benefits of prayers, mantras, dancing, and singing our hearts out. I even believe in their power. But I figure someday we’ll know more than we do now, and that it will be similar to the placebo effect — about which there’s far too little known. Just the act of believing is good for us, I think.

In the meantime, I’m totally, non-Buddhistically ATTACHED to making things better for my loved ones. It brings out the dragon in me. And at the moment? I’m a bewildered dragon — wondering what we do when the people we love suffer. Suffer horrendously. Look death in the face daily, and retreat into their private, suffering selves.

How should this beginner’s heart respond? What is the path for those of us whose lives are filled with blessings — nothing we deserve, just the luck of birth and good fortune — when those we love are shattered by misfortune? Or illness? Or death…

How do I reach out to someone who is already steps down a path that leads only to finality? I don’t believe that there is someone or something with whom I can barter my words for her life. Unfortunately. So I do tonglen: breathing in my own pain at her illness, trying hard to breathe out calmness for her pain. Using this profound sorrow I feel to try to somehow breathe peace for her.

But it never feels like enough. And I don’t really have any answers…

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