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Sunday’s Lesson – February 26, 2017 – Unity of Rehoboth Beach

 

The Parable of the 10 Virgins

 

 

 

Read Matthew 25:1-13

 

This reading takes place in the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and he is clearly intent on reinforcing with his disciples an understanding of what exactly he means by “the kingdom of heaven,” and what they should expect once he has left them in physical form. The disciples have “come to him privately” (Matthew 24:3) to ask for a clearer indication of what is going to happen, and when. This parable is part of his response.

 

 

 

What do you think the message in this parable is?

 

 

 

The message can be summed up in two words: Be Prepared! Jesus warns his followers to make no assumptions about the coming of the new consciousness he calls “the kingdom of heaven.”  And he uses the background of a wedding as the basis for his lesson.

 

 

 

Weddings in the Near East at that time were a lot different than what we know of weddings, no matter what form they are taking.  D.A. Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary describes the wedding setting: “Normally the bridegroom with some close friends left his home to go to the bride’s home, where there were various ceremonies, followed by a procession through the streets – after nightfall – to his home. The ten virgins may be bridesmaids who have been assisting the bride; and they expect to meet the groom as he comes from the bride’s house…Everyone in the procession was expected to carry his or her own torch. Those without a torch would be assumed to be party crashers. The festivities, which might last several days, would formally get under way at the groom’s house.” The torch was either a lamp with a small oil tank and wick or a stick with a rag soaked in oil on the end of it which would require occasional re-soaking to maintain the flame.”

 

All ten of the bridesmaids were honored to be chosen, and all of them received the same tools and materials—lamps and oil—to work with.  We all come into this life with our soul or Spirit, with our hearts open and ready.  Then we have ‘life as we know it” and must learn to open ourselves again.

 

The lamp is often pictured in scripture and in literature as a symbol of the spirit of a person.

 

Or it could be the word of God which lights one’s pathway through life.

 

 

 

The oil typically represents the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

These are all gifts that everyone has.

 

 

 

The five wise maidens realized that they didn’t know exactly when to expect the wedding party, and chose to make sure they had plenty of oil supply by bringing extra. The five others assumed everything would unfold at once, and so brought no extra supplies of oil.

 

In both cases, those choices had immediate consequences. Those who were prepared were welcomed into the wedding celebration, i.e., the kingdom. Those who were unprepared were not admitted. This isn’t a question of punishment, but of the spiritual truth that all our choices have consequences.

 

I think all of us have both wise and foolish bridesmaids in our consciousness. The foolish are those thoughts that assume we know how and when the new dimension of consciousness known as the kingdom will arrive, and that we have already “earned” the right to be included.  We believe that we have done our work and so are ‘saved.’

 

As I reminded everyone last Sunday, if you are still here physically, there is still work to be done.

 

The wise are those thoughts that “know what we don’t know” and make no false assumptions. Being “invited”—being awakened to our innate Christ Presence and the possibility of expressing that Presence as the kingdom of heaven—is only the first step, not the final qualification. We must continue to live our lives in such a way that we are prepared to step into that new consciousness at any moment. If not, we’ll be left behind, forced to wait for another wedding. (or to learn THAT lesson again!)

 

 

 

Again, we were reminded last week about living our integrity.  Or our 5 Principles…look at them again and see how you are doing.

 

 

 

All ten of the bridesmaids saw their lamps beginning to burn out as the midnight hour approached.  The wise virgins had extra oil with them. But that extra was not in their lamps. The extra oil came from another companion vessel that they carried with them.  

 

This extra supply was separate from the oil they had within the lamp of their own spirit. This was the critical difference between those who were wise and those who were foolish.  It represents the power of their Christ Presence and their awareness of that presence.  It is the faith that they have and work on diligently.

 

Burnout happened to all ten of the bridesmaids. Burnout happens to all of us from time to time as we come to low points and times of crisis in our lives. There is nothing wrong with this at all. It is a common human experience.

 

What happens as midnight and the Bridegroom draws near is an example of the importance of preparation ahead of any time of darkness and trial and testing that may come as part of this human experience.

 

If we are doing our work, prayer, self-discovery, forgiveness, etc.  we will be prepared when the time comes and we need that extra amount of faith, patience and wisdom.

 

So, it is our spiritual attentiveness and preparation that appears to be the critical issue in this parable…or the lack of.

 

I chose this parable as an opening to the Lent Season and our Lenten Series.  Lent is about Being Prepared for the resurrection that we experience, often many, many times.

 

We will be using Charles Fillmore’s “Keep a True Lent” as a guide for this series leading up to Palm Sunday and Easter. 

 

Today’s Unity Lesson – The Lessons From “The Velveteen Rabbit” -ebruary 19, 2017

 

Lessons from The Velveteen Rabbit

 

 

 

You know I believe that our messages and lessons from Spirit are everywhere.  We just need to be open to them.  And sometimes, we have to hear the Lesson a few different times in different ways.

 

Our ‘masters’ come in a variety of forms too.  It’s not just the Don Miguel Ruiz’s, Marianne Williamson’s , and yes, J.K. Rowling’s of the day that have a message for us.

 

So, it should be no surprise to you that there are many lessons in many ‘children’s’ books, including “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams.

 

I became interested in children’s books through a friend of mine who made a point of having a collection of them and added to it from time to time when she saw something that caught her eye.  The collection was for her, as she did not have children of her own, but did interact with them.

 

I don’t recall children’s stories as a child, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there, I just don’t remember having them read to me or having books about the house.

 

So, let’s explore this classic.  The actual title is “The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real). The book was first published in 1922.

 

It chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbit and his desire to become real, through the love of his owner.

 

As the story goes, a stuffed rabbit sewn from velveteen is given as a Christmas present to a small boy. The boy plays with his other presents and forgets the velveteen rabbit for a time. The presents he first plays with are modern and mechanical, and they snub the old-fashioned velveteen rabbit, and put on airs of superiority. 

 

Because of the behavior of the other toys, the poor little Rabbit was made to feel very insignificant and commonplace, and the only ’person’ who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.

 

The wise Skin Horse, tells the rabbit about toys magically becoming REAL due to the love from their children.

 

The author calls the Skin Horse a ‘person’ because he has made the transition to REAL through the love given by the boy’s uncle when he was a boy. 

 

The rabbit is awed by this idea of becoming REAL; however, he feels, his chances of achieving this wish are slight because of his treatment from the other, ‘modern’ toys, making him feel inferior.

 

One night, the boy’s Nana gives the rabbit to the boy to sleep with, in place of the usual bedtime toy that was misplaced.  The rabbit becomes the boy’s favorite toy, enjoying adventures in the playroom and yard, and picnics with him in the spring; and the boy begins to regard the rabbit as ‘REAL’. Time passes, and the rabbit becomes shabbier but happy.

 

One day, the boy becomes sick with scarlet fever, and the rabbit sits with him day in and out as he recovers. The doctor declares the boy well, and orders that the boy should be taken to the seaside and that his room should be disinfected—all his books and toys burnt, including the velveteen rabbit.

 

The rabbit is bundled into a sack and left out in the garden overnight, where he sadly reflects on his life with his boy. The toy rabbit cries, and as a real tear drops onto the ground, and a marvellous flower appears.

 

A fairy steps out of the flower and comforts the velveteen rabbit, introducing herself as the Nursery Magic Fairy. She says that, because he is old and shabby and REAL, she will take him away with her and “turn him into “Real” – for everyone.

 

The fairy takes the rabbit to the forest, where she meets the other rabbits and gives the velveteen rabbit a kiss. The velveteen rabbit changes into a real rabbit and joins the other rabbits in the forest.

 

The next spring, the rabbit returns to look at the boy, and the boy recognizes his old velveteen rabbit.

 

From the book:

 

“REAL isn’t how you are made…” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL.”

 

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

 

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are REAL you don’t mind being hurt.”

 

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

 

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are REAL you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand…”~From “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams

 

So what are the lessons that we can learn from this story?  Many, my friends, many.

 

 

 

The first, very obvious lesson is about the word R E A L.  Look at how many people are treated.  Much like the velveteen rabbit by his fellow toys.  Many, more modern, often mechanical toys had airs about them; making themselves above other, not so modern seeming toys.

 

But what happens when the rabbit is loved by his boy? 

 

What happens to you and I when we are loved by another?  When we are accepted for the people we are?  When we love and accept ourselves?          We become R.E.A.L.

 

The toys–and people–become real through the wisdom and experience of love.

 

Here is how one blogger put it… Love causes wear and tear on us all, but it’s worth the pain b/c of the joy love brings. We all need to love, be loved, and belong.

 

That if you love something strong enough-it becomes real to you. It touches your heart and soul. And no matter what – it stays with you. Even when you are told you have to let go. Others can’t understand what you feel and see because they don’t feel the love you do. Loving someone or something can hurt when it’s time to say good bye.

 

For something (the stuffed rabbit in this case) to become real it must be released (parted with in the fire).

 

Applies to anything in our lives – letting the kids grow and leave to become their own persons – etc.

 

That love can make all things real and beautiful.

 

And another easy Lesson is, looks do not matter…”little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.

 

 

 

It’s when we are worn with years and the insults that have been flung at us and we have been cautioned to shut up and sit down and wait our turn and no you can’t have that and don’t be silly, get a real job, something that will help you survive. That’s when we start to see this definition of REAL.

 

 

 

Taking the example from The Velveteen Rabbit: Being Real sometimes hurts. The alternative to being real, however, is unimaginable.

 

 

 

Being Loved sometimes hurts. Although we do our utmost not to deliberately hurt the ones we love, the truth is, we inadvertently hurt the ones we love (and they hurt us), because our hearts are exposed the most to one another. What greater way is there to communicate and to exist, than to live wide openly and authentically Real with one another?

 

 

 

In the words of Melissa Etheridge, “I want to live my life pursuing all my happiness. I want a fearless love, I won’t settle for anything less.”

 

 

 

This wisdom is explored with warmth and depth by psychotherapist and social worker Toni RaifenD’Antonio in her book, The Velveteen Principles: A Guide to Becoming Real. In it, she translates the lessons learned by the Velveteen Rabbit into 12 principles that create a guide to becoming real.

 

 

 

She describes the difference between living in the land of Objects and being Real. “Once we accept the pervasive messages of the Object culture, once we believe that we should be perfect, we start to feel shamefully inadequate. No one, after all, can ever attain the Object ideal. As a result, we tumble into a never-ending cycle of struggle, self-condemnation and flailing attempts to ease the pain through money, power, drugs, sex, food or purchases…Just think about the process of abandoning your Real self. You let go of a dream here, a feeling there. Elements of yourself fall away so quietly that you don’t even notice. But something inside of you feels the loses

 

Briefly, Let’s look at her 12 Principles:

 

 

 

Principle #1: Real is Possible – The first principle reassures us that Real is possible. Just as the Velveteen Rabbit felt in his little bunny heart that he was Real, that he had the potential to be Real, and undertook developing those qualities that he needed to in

 

order to live as Real.

 

 

 

Principle #2: Real is a Process – This is the wisdom of the Skin Horse? “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept.” We begin to become Real when you begin the process of discovering and defining yourself, and we become more and more Real as we grow and mature and refine what matters most to us.

 

What can support this process? What can help us feel more real? Close relationships make us feel more Real. Work that matters makes us feel more Real. Creativity and growth make us feel more Real. Teaching, nurturing and caring for others make us feel Real.

 

 

 

Principle #3: Real is Emotional – Principle 3 speaks to the importance of being emotionally available and intelligent. When we’re Real, we honor our feelings and express them maturely and responsibly. We don’t “stuff” our feelings or project them out on to others.

 

 

 

As we become more aware of our own emotions, we learn to respect and appreciate the feelings of others. We recognize that not every feeling needs to be acted upon. This isn’t being real or authentic, it’s being impulsive. Important distinction! And this emotional intelligence leads to the fourth principle.

 

 

 

Principle #4: Real is Empathetic – The mechanical toys in the nursery had a very hard time relating to the feelings and needs of the other toys. Their constant need to be superior hid feelings of insecurity and shame. Their missing paint and broken parts their lack of perfection – created an insecurity that was out pictured as judgment. In contrast, the Skin Horse is very comfortable in his own skin. The Skin Horse is Real and not interested in being perfect.

 

 

 

Principle #5: Real is Courageous – Brene Brown wrote that, “Courage is telling who you are with your whole heart.” Real feels the fear and does it anyway. Real is willing to take risks. Real does the right thing, even when it’s not popular. Real isn’t afraid to fail, and sees every failure as a learning experience. Real knows that Failure leads to growth; New beliefs are powerful.  Courage comes with experience.

 

 

 

Principle #6: Real is Honest – The only toy in the nursery who is honest, who tells the truth, is the Skin Horse. He likes who he is, so he doesn’t need to posture or pretend to be something he isn’t. He’s not perfect and doesn’t need or want to be.  He understands that:

 

– Perfect is arbitrary. Think about how body image standards have changed over the years. What was considered beautiful 100 years ago is not what we consider beautiful today.

 

– Perfection is boring. Isn’t it our flaws, our idiosyncrasies that make us interesting.

 

– Human perfection is ultimately impossible.

 

 

 

When we’re Real, we’re comfortable in our own skin, just like the Skin Horse.

 

We say what we mean, and mean what we say. We walk our talk, and practice what we preach. This is inherent in Jesus’ teaching of letting your yea’s be yea’s and your nay’s be nay’s. No drama, no posturing, just being real.

 

 

 

Principle #7: Real is Generous – Real expresses a spirit of goodwill and encouragement, a generosity of spirit. Real supports others joyfully and is affirming. When we’re Real, we understand that there’s enough to go around, so we don’t hold back our gifts. We don’t buy into the common misperceptions about competition, and someone needing to lose in order for us to win. Real looks for win/win solutions. Real understands the Law of Giving and Receiving, that it is in giving that we receive. Real knows that sharing our light doesn’t diminish it, but allows it to grow ever brighter. Real understands that we are all One, that we are inherently connected, which makes generosity natural and even logical.

 

 

 

Principle #8: Real is Grateful – Gratitude flows when we are able to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Developing an attitude of gratitude opens our eyes to the beauty around us, and to the infinite possibilities that surround us always. Real associates gratitude with awareness and appreciation. Real takes the time to be aware of our surroundings, to observe our lives, and those that share it, without judgment, to appreciate our journey and those that share it. Gratitude is the gateway to grace. When we’re willing to be in gratitude, we invite grace into our lives and experience unexpected blessings.

 

 

 

Principle #9: Real can be Painful – As the Skin Horse explained to the Velveteen

 

Rabbit, sometimes becoming Real can hurt. The more we tell the truth about

 

ourselves, the more open and vulnerable we are, the more risks we’re willing to take,

 

the more possible it becomes that we could be hurt. We might not like what we see.

 

But being Real means we keep looking, that we’re willing to accept ourselves, and others, warts and all. We start to care more about contributing, about being of service, than we do about the opinions of others.

 

 

 

Principle #10: Real is Flexible – Real is adaptable and able to adjust quickly to change. When we’re Real, we hold ourselves lightly, not taking things personally, or ourselves too seriously. Real goes with the flow.  Real understands that:

 

– Change does not equal disaster.

 

– Change is natural. The I Ching teaches that “life is change.”

 

– Change does not mean we failed.

 

– After a big change, we are not going to be the same. Real understands that change

 

is necessary for growth.

 

 

 

Principle #11: Real Love Endures – In his book of Toltec wisdom, The Mastery of Love, Don Miguel Ruiz teaches that: “We can talk about love and write a thousand books about it, but love will be completely different for each of us because we have to experience love. Love is not about concepts; love is about action. Love in action can only produce happiness. Fear in action can only produce suffering. The only way to master love is to practice love. You don’t need to justify your love, you don’t need to explain your love; you just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master.”

 

 

 

Thus my signature on my emails…Loving is the answer.

 

 

 

Principle #12: Real is Ethical – “The process of becoming Real eventually makes us calmly content with ourselves, which means we no longer feel overwhelmed by self-consciousness and self-doubt. We are so comfortable in our worth as human beings that we are able to act according to our highest values in a way that is practically automatic. Almost without trying, we begin to act in ways that are consistently ethical.” What I call living in your integrity. 

 

 

 

Real understands that our actions have consequences, a ripple effect, and so we become exquisitely aware of our effect on others.

 

 

 

We live the Golden Rule, not because it’s a “rule” but because it has become an extension of our Realness.

 

 

 

Real happens when we are willing to see that we are exactly as God created us to

 

be, we stop apologizing for who we are, and embrace who we are.  

 

 

 

Something interesting happens when we’re willing to be real, to be vulnerable, to know the truth about ourselves and others, to focus on love, to be genuine… all of a sudden, we start to see things differently. Because we’re no longer interested in pretending, or trying to be something we’re not… because it’s so much easier to just be who we are, all of a sudden we have more energy, more enthusiasm for life, more ideas, more joy. This is not magic. It’s the result of freeing up all that energy we used to spend keep the mask in place, all the energy we used to spend hiding, more interested in our fear and our stories than in being real.

 

 

 

Toni speaks to this:

 

After he became Real, the Velveteen Rabbit looked upon the world with the quiet wisdom we acquire when we have grown enough and learned enough to understand what Really fulfills and sustains us as unique individuals. To put it another way, we know what gives our lives true value and meaning. This is the ultimate goal we reach as we mature as Real people.

 

 

 

The hunger for a sense of meaning – for true value – is universal and as old as humanity itself. We all want to feel that we have a purpose and that our presence on this planet matters. Many times, this desire is dismissed as impractical and even frivolous. But when you are Real, the quest for meaning is central to your life. It leads you to nurture your own values, interests and passions and to connect with others in empathetic and positive relationships. This doesn’t happen without some effort.

 

 

 

A Real life demands your active participation. It doesn’t happen to you. You design it and then create it. Real doesn’t mean you’ll be perfect at anything. It means that you’re willing to  grow and learn through experience. And as a result, you know that you always did your best.

 

 

 

Besides saving us from regrets, a life conducted in this Real way creates a beautiful and unique story that becomes our legacy to the people we love and, perhaps, to people we never knew. This is the greatest reward of living as a Real person. It’s not stuff or power or achievement, but rather a sense that you are using your time on Earth well, that you are connected to others and that your life matters.

 

 

 

Once you are Real, and you know that everything you say and do matters, you can also understand that we each leave a mark on the world that remains long after we’re gone. Whether we recognize it or not, we all create a legacy…. If you become more Real in your own life and bring that to your relationships, you are practically guaranteed to leave behind an inspiring example for others. Your life’s message will encourage everyone you touch to live with a sense of wonder, curiosity and openness, rather than cynicism and fear. It will say, “I was Real. And you can be Real, too.”

 

Compassion – Unity of Rehoboth Beach – February 12,2017

 

Compassion

Big Unity will often have a theme for each year that we in the trenches can use as a guide or a jumping off point for Lessons.  At least that’s how I like to use them.

 

This year the theme is “Unleashing Your Divine Potential.”  And the word for this month of February is Compassion, which you may have figured out by the Reading.  The affirmation for the month is ‘I treat others as I would want to be treated.’  I’ve included it on your insert in case you wish to add it to your Spiritual Practice for the month.

The verse for the month is from 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

 

Compassion –

The etymology of “compassion” is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” More involved than simple empathy, compassion commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering

This is not Pity, which separates us from another’s suffering, compassion opens our hearts and connects us to that individual.

It is not sympathy, which is simply recognition of another’s lack; it looks beyond the lack and the personality to the desire of the other person to rise above his lack.

 

The compassionate person does not cry when others cry, but he uses the energy that he would waste in tears to stretch forth his hands in encouragement to the one in need. Beyond the tears of another he sees, the upreaching, for comfort, and he gives this comfort. Beyond the seeming pain of another he sees the longing for health, and he speaks words of health and strength. Beyond the loneliness of another he sees the desire for friendship, and he gives kindness and understanding.

 

Compassion does not judge by negative appearances; it always looks beyond them to the self within, and to this inner self it declares the truth of its being. It says to every soul, “Christ is within you, and Christ is your freedom.”

Often we’re taught that having compassion is a sign of being weak because it means you’re not going to stand up to abuse or oppression. Compassion is strength—it means you’re not going to be consumed by hatred. Your actions may then be more effective because they’re not born under that angry fire, which can be very confusing because it can make you feel as though you have no options.

 

Compassion gives us an opportunity to step back. When we explore the nature of compassion, we recognize that disturbing and disruptive actions come from a place of pain. We can truly wish the other person well—wishing they could be free of that pain.

 

We realize that obsessing over another’s faults holds us back and limits us because it requires so much of our own energy. It’s as if we’ve let them take over our own mind and body. To recapture all that energy, we have to be able to let go of the other person. If they have issues, they are their own. If we need to take action to protect ourselves or others, we do that, but it doesn’t have to be from a hateful place.

Do you see the difference?

 

The positive part of anger is its energy—it’s not passive or complacent. Our job is to capture the energy without getting lost in anger’s damaging aspects, such as negative tunnel vision.

 

A perfect example of capturing anger was the Women’s March, which took the anger of many and turned it into an expression of what people wish and hope for in their future and the future of their children – equality for all.

 

The concept of compassion was central to Jesus: “Be compassionate as God is compassionate,” he said. He was compassionate to everyone, including and especially those who were considered outcasts or untouchables: the poor, the maimed, the chronically ill, lepers, Samaritans, Gentiles, tax collectors, sinners and even women, who fell to the bottom of the social strata at that time. Jesus pointedly rejected the purity system that dictated who had rights and who didn’t; who was to be acknowledged and who wasn’t; and who one could speak to, eat with, touch, help, defend or befriend.

 

In his brilliant book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, author Marcus J. Borg writes: “To put it boldly, compassion for Jesus was political. He directly and repeatedly challenged the dominant sociopolitical paradigm of his social world and advocated instead what might be called a politics of compassion.”  Jesus ignored social boundaries and violated purity protocol, demonstrating again and again that the letter of human-made law is less important than the spirit of God’s law, which is love and compassion.  Jesus said, ‘Love one another.’ That should be the End of the story!”)

 

COMPASSION was one of the outstanding qualities of Jesus.

Many have spoken on compassion:

“Compassion is the basis of morality.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer

 

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ― Mother Teresa

 

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

 

“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.” ― Albert Einstein

His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote,

According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering. It’s not passive — it’s not empathy alone — but rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering. Genuine compassion must have both wisdom and lovingkindness. That is to say, one must understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free others (this is wisdom), and one must experience deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient beings (this is lovingkindness).”

Have you ever seen someone do something courteous and then get angry for not being properly thanked? True compassion has no expectation of reward, even a simple “thank you,” attached to it. Expecting a reward maintains the idea of a separate self and a separate other.

How to be more compassionate?  Pema Chodron says, “start where you are.” Whatever mess your life is right now is the soil from which enlightenment may grow.

After all this talk of selflessness, it may seem odd to end with compassion for oneself. But it’s important not to run away from our own suffering.

Pema Chodron also said, “In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves.

And in –

Matthew 7:12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets

Loving thy neighbor is intrinsically connected with loving yourself. Maybe you’ve never been concerned about self-love, but it is vitally important. How you treat yourself, including how kind and compassionate you are toward yourself, can inform everything you say and do, and most certainly how well you love your neighbor.

So ask: What can I do today to improve my situation? How can I enjoy my life just as it is?

 

Steve Maraboli, in the Life, the Truth, and Being Free “How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”
Instead of recognizing the differences between yourself and others, try to recognize what you have in common. At the root of it all, we are all human beings. We need food, and shelter, and love. We crave attention, and recognition, and affection, and above all, happiness.

 

Reflect on these commonalities you have with every other human being, and ignore the differences. Here is an exercise from Ode Magazine — it’s a five-step exercise to try when you meet friends and strangers. Do it discreetly and try to do all the steps with the same person. With your attention geared to the other person, tell yourself:

  1. Step 1: “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”
  2. Step 2: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”
  3. Step 3: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.”
  4. Step 4: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.”
  5. Step 5: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

Look around you at the folks gathered here today and think on those statements.  It will be a good practice for when you walk out that door.

 

Remember:   Proverbs 18:21

“The tongue has the power of life and death…”

Be compassionate towards yourself and towards others.  It’s what Jesus, our Wayshower would do.