via google
via google

Buddhists believe firmly in connection. We don’t always see eye-to-eye on other tenets — reincarnation, the divinity of leadership, vegetarianism. There are more. But that all things are connected? I know of no Buddhist who believes otherwise.

It seems so very simple to me. And it has since I was a small child: each of us, animate or in-, touches the being of everyone/thing we come into contact with.

I’m not convinced of the ‘butterfly effect,’ which posits that infinitesimal changes in a system can result in large results, later. But I do believe that my actions impact all my surroundings. From the current (& obvious) trend in quantifying our carbon footprints, to the relatively insignificant action of walking across the wet grass to pick up my paper, there are consequences. I read recently that even several hundred years after cultivation, when land is examined — even when it’s reverted to 2nd-growth forest — you can tell the differences in the soil. Even a path from hundreds and hundreds of years leaves its mark.

via wikipedia
via wikipedia

Hence my efforts at tonglen, at trying to breathe peace into a disordered present. Far too often, I don’t remember. At my mother-in-law’s funeral, for instance, I could only hug my sisters-in-law, offering love & warmth physically. I totally lost the ability to think, to breathe in their grief & breathe out peace & comfort. Oh well, right? At least I knew they needed hugs!

But much of life happens on the fly, living it. We don’t get time to think, especially when littles are involved. I don’t contemplate, when I’m caring for my bumptious 2-year-old grandson; I react. 🙂

And that’s our major problem. With time, most of us can learn the ties that bind each of us one to another. But in the heat of an international tragedy, for instance, we revert to our basest instinct: fear. Fear governs our decisions, putting the saddest kinds of hate speech into the world. I always hope we’ve learned from past tragedies — how the refugees of Nazi Germany, turned away from America, were returned to die in horror. How the ‘refugees’ who came to America have paid us back a thousand-fold w/ their intelligence, entrepreneurship, their hard work. How Steve Jobs was the son of refugees. How Anne Frank was a refugee.

So when I try to understand hatred, I think first of how fear distorts our awareness of human connection. Which doesn’t fix things, of course. But it does help me not to fall into a similar pit of darkness.

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