“Sensitivity is a sign of life. Better hurt than hardened. I bow to those who keep their hearts open when it is most difficult, those who refuse to keep their armor on any longer than they have to, those who recognize the courage at the heart of vulnerability. After all the malevolent warriors end each other, the open-hearted will inherit the earth.”
~ Jeff Brown, Ascending With Both Feet on the Ground
On the way to work earlier this week riding the train to the 2nd district of Vienna, an elderly man caught my attention. He wore an attire of black dress pants, a starched white, shirt with a blue-stripped tie and a tweed jacket as he sat by the window. The jacket hung loosely over his shoulders which he adjusted every once in awhile with trembling hands. There was a black winter coat neatly piled beside him on the train seat. A faraway look shone in his eyes through his metal-rimmed glasses. He glanced in my direction when I entered the train, but looked straight through me.
In both hands he held some wooden beads, while his lips moved silently. The crease between his eyebrows grew deeper as he held the beads with one hand and with the other moved a finger methodically in circular motion over one bead at a time. And then onto the surface of his pointy finger of the opposite hand. Eventually, he put the beads away in the inner pocket of his jacket.
Momentarily he wrung his hands together and then adjusted his jacket once more. He pressed his lips together and took a long, deep breath. Afterwards, lightly placing his hands together at the fingertips holding them in a thoughtful pose.
Right before his stop he stood up and put his arms into his jacket and then donned his elegant winter coat.
It so happened that we were getting off at the same time. He was slightly confused as he stepped onto the platform. He needed a moment or two to orientate himself before disappearing into the shuffle.
It struck me how many people have a heart full of so many different things that we can’t possibly ever know. We face each day in our fragility and try our best to get through life. Let’s keep our hearts open even in the midst of our vulnerabilities and be compassionate. First to ourselves and then to others. In patience, hold your essence gently and sacredly.
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― RIP, Maya Angelou, born 4 April 1928, died 28 May 2014
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.
*Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation of the 5 basic precepts as taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni
Seek and you shall find what you may already have
Sometimes it’s your own shadow standing in your path
I have spent my life with a vision of myself,
But I may have been somebody, somebody else.
I feel a change in the tide
As I hold my heart open wide.
Knew what I could be
I never felt the power inside of me
Now I stand in all the wonder
That the mirror couldn’t see.
I have the power inside of me, yeah.
I have the power inside of me.
Every time I held a rose, I only felt the thorns.
I feel like todays the day I finally was born.
Now that I see me through these eyes,
I can do more than fantasize.