Two interesting words crop up in today’s quotes: “exploitation” and “Invincible”.
Many of us have an experience of exploitation – either of our own or of others. We know the kinds of anger, shame and powerlessness that can arise when we focus on being exploited and abused.(Sometimes we over-focus on our exploitation and abuse, using it as a badge of identification – which it is not. Understanding it is one thing, constantly reliving it is another. More on this in another “Moment”.)
In our society, we have developed tools for interrupting and/or stopping various kinds of exploitation and abuse. Popular now are “anti-bullying” activities associated with schools and children.
It’s a little harder for us to recognize the experience of exploitation as the exploiter. But, as we live in Breaker society, we are indeed participants in exploitation. Perhaps you bullied others in school. (While I was indeed bullied in school, I also did my share of bullying. And, in Camden, NJ, “bullying” had a deadly quality to it.)Perhaps you own clothing sewn in an exploitive sweat shop somewhere in Asia. Perhaps you own stock in an oil company, one that participated in the theft of oil from Native Americans, making people poor in order to make others inordinately rich.
Compassion requires us to feel the pain that exploitation causes. To feel our own pain
and suffering. To feel the pain and suffering of others.To feel the pain and suffering that we have caused others. This is the path of our humanity. Without being able to do this, we cannot be human.
Dr. V’s quote invites us even further, though. He is pointing the way toward inclusive compassion, inclusive consciousness. When you are conscious of helping “those people”, you are practicing dualistic compassion… which is admirable! And, there is yet
another level – when you recognize that there are no “Others”, just yourSelf, in another form.
There are people who try to short-cut the process. I’ve heard people say, “I don’t see any pain or exploitation – I’m one with the Universe!” Not so fast. There’s a way to use the concept of inclusive compassion as a smokescreen, as a way to deny that there is exploitation in the world, and especially to attempt to deny one’s own role in perpetuating suffering and exploitation. “I’m one with the Universe!” means that we have carefully examined our own lives and actions for signs – direct or indirect – of exploitation and
The Chopra quote brings to mind the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and also the teachings of the Tibetan Buddhists.
Let’s talk about the Tibetans first. They have a concept called, “dra la”, which means “above the enemy”.To be so far above and removed from your “enemy”, that you don’t
have an “enemy”. Imagine a two year old hitting you with their little fist. Would you be “hurt”? Wouldn’t you tolerate or forgive their behavior? You wouldn’t hit them back, because you are so much bigger – not just in size, but in knowledge, wisdom and life experience. This “size” gives you the perspective to forgive.
The same is true, even when the “enemy” is older than the toddler.
This brings us to Jesus. We are familiar with “turn the other cheek”. Let the action happen – even accentuate it. In that way, you cannot be harmed by the action.By being “completely and totally defenseless”, we live our lives in such a way that we cannot be harmed. We become invincible.
Easier said than done!I’ve had plenty of experiences around the world where I’ve had the
opportunity to look into the eyes of my would-be attackers, with compassion and forgiveness.(Believe me, practicing compassion with a soldier pointing an assault rifle, barking orders you cannot understand, is a real test!)
And: I have completely wigged out when a Sri Lankan bus driver failed to give me six cents in change due to me. SIX CENTS! (One of my true low points…) Jesus says that I could have diffused the situation by handing over another six cents. Oh well… it’s nice to know where my trigger points are…
It’s one thing to read the words of our wisdom teachers, or practice them under ideal situations. It’s another thing to practice under challenging conditions.That is where our practice becomes a truly growing experience.