Tenderness and the Awakening of Compassion

Pema Chodron writes in The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (2002,)

All beings have the capacity to feel tenderness – to experience heartbreak, pain, and uncertainty. Therefore the enlightened heart of bodhichitta is available to all of us. The insight meditation teacher Jack Kornfield tells of witnessing this in Cambodia during the time of the Khmer Rouge. Fifty thousand people had become communists at gunpoint, threatened with death if they continued their Buddhist practices. In spite of the danger, a temple was established in the refugee camp, and twenty thousand people attended the opening ceremony. There were no lectures or prayers but simply continuous chanting of one of the central teachings of the Buddha:

Hatred never ceases by hatred

But by love alone is healed.

This is an ancient and eternal law.

Thousands of people chanted and wept, knowing that the truth in these words was even greater than their suffering.

Bodhichitta has this kind of power. It will inspire and support us in good times and bad. It is like discovering a wisdom and courage we do not even know that we have. Just as alchemy changes any metal into gold, bodhicitta can, if we let it, transform any activity, word, or thought into a vehicle for awakening our compassion.

The 11 Best Beaches to Visit in Europe

Lori Zaino of The Points Guy lists some of Europe’s best beaches:

  • Balos Beach in Crete, Greece
  • Spiaggia dei Conigli in Lampedusa, Italy
  • Playa de La Barrosa in Andalusia, Spain
  • St. Peter’s Pool in Malta
  • Rambergstranda Beach in Norway
  • Praia dos Galapinhos in Portugal
  • Plage Notre-Dame, Île de Porquerolles in France
  • Stiniva Beach, Vis in Croatia
  • Silistar Beach in Bulgaria
  • Rhossili Bay in Wales
  • Jurata Beach in Poland

Putting the Broken Pieces Back Together

Sereno Sky writes in Lonely Traveller (2014,)

Unfortunately, when you’ve fallen apart, there is no one who will be able to put the broken pieces back together but yourself. People may want to help, but in reality only you can do the dirty job of picking yourself up again, piece by piece.

A Little Bit, Done Often

Leadership coach Suzi McAlpine suggests building habits and rituals starting with one small thing, which, if done consistently and collectively, will get you closer to your vision and goal:

It was the commitment to do one small thing, and to do it often, which mattered. I knew I could commit to small steps. That was the magic of my success. Turns out, Stanford researchers also say this is the way to go if you want to master positive, long lasting change. Habits are what matter. The one small thing you do consistently every day is what delivers steady and long lasting positive change. This philosophy also applies to building a high performing, cohesive leadership team.

Understanding the ‘Self’

Stephen Batchelor writes in Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist (2010,)

Gotama did for the self what Copernicus did for the earth: he put it in its rightful place, despite its continuing to appear as it did before. Gotama no more rejected the existence of the self than Copernicus rejected the existence of the earth. Instead, rather than regarding it as a fixed, non-contingent point around which everything else turned, he recognized that each self was a fluid, contingent process just like everything else.

Notions of Happiness

Thich Nhat Hanh writes in The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation (1999,)

Our notions of happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.

A Raft to Cross the River

Vietnamese-born monk and writer Thich Nhat Hanh writes in Interbeing (1987):

Perhaps Buddhism is the only religion that speaks about its own teachings as a raft to cross the river and not as an absolute truth to be worshipped and safeguarded. This is the most drastic measure that Buddhism utilizes to deal with dogmatism and fanaticism, which are the causes of some much conflict and violence… According to Buddhism, knowledge itself can be an obstacle to true understanding, while views are a barrier to insight. Clinging to our views can cause us to lose the opportunity to come to a higher or more profound understanding of reality. Buddhism urges us to transcend our own knowledge in order to advance on the path of enlightenment. All views are considered to be “obstacles to knowledge”…. According to Buddhist teaching, if we cannot continually expand the frontiers of our knowledge, we will be imprisoned by our own views and never able to attain the Way.

The World is Complicated and Full of Grays

President Barack Obama in conversation with novelist Marilynne Robinson:

When I think about how I understand my role as citizen, setting aside being president, and the most important set of understandings that I bring to that position of citizen, the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels. It has to do with empathy. It has to do with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of grays, but there’s still truth there to be found, and that you have to strive for that and work for that.

Peace of Mind is Possible

American psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein writes in In the Face of Fear, Buddhist Wisdom for Challenging Times (2009):

Life is difficult, the Buddha taught, for everyone. Suffering he said, is the demand that experience be different from what it is. Of course we do what we can to address the pain. Sometimes illnesses are cured. Sometimes relationships are mended. Sometimes losses are recouped. Sometimes, though, nothing can be done. The Buddhas teaching of liberation was that peace of mind is possible, no matter what the circumstances.

The Middle Way of Buddhism

Richard Holloway writes Doubts and Loves: What is Left of Christianity (2020,)

The genius of Buddhism is it is a Middle Way that repudiates two extremes, the worthless life of self-indulgence and the equally worthless life of self-torture. The difference between Buddhism and Christianity is that Buddhism is essentially a practice, an arduous discipline that can deliver peace and compassion to its adherents. Christianity also has its spiritual disciplines, but it has never able to divest itself of the belief that doctrines are themselves saving and life-changing. Much of this goes back to the originating genius of Christian theology, Saul of Tarsus who became Paul. The paradox is that what was for Paul a liberating psychological experience was later to be hardened into a formula that radically contradicted his original insight and the experience that prompted it.