Compassion for Others
One thing I know for certain, in all aspects of life, without the right, there would be no left and without the left, there would be no right. As Thich Nhat Hanh wrote...in his book, “Peace is Every Step” “If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-“ with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be.
If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. Without sunshine, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see wheat. We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. The logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.
Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here – time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.
Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up lonely of “non-paper” elements. And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without non-paper elements, like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.”
This morning when I read the news, I felt sad, sad that we as a people find it in our hearts to condemn a man for taking a drink of water when he was giving a speech. It doesn't matter to me that he represents thoughts that are on the right and I often view myself as on the left. The man is a human, he needed water, for whatever reason. He is just like you or me, a person, speaking what his heart feels and he needed water. Where is our humanity, where is our desire to be compassionate, to be understanding, and yes, tolerant of one another and each others needs.
In the big scheme of things, what really matters in life is that we all want the same thing out of life and that is happiness. Its a universal desire, despite income, race, religion, or sex. Spending our time, picking on such small things, removes us from the notion that we care about one another as fellow human beings, that occasionally need water for a dry mouth, to sooth a tickle in the throat or just because. Because a man speaks an opposing view, does not mean we have to be so critical of everything they do. After all, without the Right, there would be no Left. We are inter-being with one another. Compassion should be universal.