(Author’s Note, after the fact: I just counted 5 “fears”, 1 “fearless” and 5 “loves” in this post. You can’t have too much love, but 5 fears is crazy. This is not one of my better pieces.)
I’ve been reading Buddhist beliefs lately, not in search of a new religion, but as a willing student of world thought.
I was raised in a religion filled with ritual, fear, and dark-robed teachers. As a chronically depressed child, I didn’t need any more fear in my life but I hung with the sheep until my escape to college. I can definitely say that there was zero love in my life so I had no role models in the treatment of other people and animals. For me, life was pretty much about treading water and survival.
Navigating my adult years with highs and lows, I married, had children, moved about a bit, and experienced a life of rich creativity—without feeling any sense of accomplishment or joy from it.
I never spent much time thinking about religious doctrine, but I knew that I believed in karma.
I loved my children and my students. They shared so much with me—fearlessly.
I was too busy to think about Todays. (I was busy thinking about Yesterdays and Tomorrows.)
Like many people, I’m finding that as I look in the rearview mirror and see the end of life on this planet, I have a lot of questions.
I picked up Pema Chodron’s The Places that We Fear because Fear has always been such a huge part of my life. I’ve been dogged by the shadow of fears that were branded upon me as a child for so long that it seemed as if that’s all that Life was about.
Every morning for years, I awakened with a sense of impending doom that I shook off with a couple cups of coffee before heading out into the Light.
I was surprised to learn that bodhichitta is not a heavy-duty doctrine.
Surprise. It’s about Love.
Doesn’t everyone want more Love in his life?
In reading Chodron’s work, I see that, of course, it begins with my attention to the Love around me. And Compassion. In bodhichitta, we have the ability to feel the pain that we share with others.
Chondron says that “sometimes the open heart and mind of bodhichitta is called the soft spot, a place as tender as an open wound. It is in part equated with the ability to love.”
It’s a way to enlightenment.
“In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong…
“…And this is why my eyes are closed
It’s just as well for all I’ve seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows.”