Many of us think that compassion drains us, but I promise you it is something that truly enlivens us.
When we walk slowly, the world can fully appear. Not only are the creatures not frightened away by our haste or aggression, but the fine detail of fern and flower, or devastation and disruption, becomes visible. Many of us hurry along because we do not want to see what is really going on in and around us. We are afraid to let our senses touch the body of suffering or the body of beauty
Death can come at any moment. You could die this afternoon; you could die tomorrow morning; you could die on your way to work; you could die in your sleep. Most of us try to avoid the sense that death can come at any time, but its timing is unknown to us. Can we live each day as if it were our last? Can we relate to one another as if there were no tomorrow?
I am always cautious about naming the known, as we often forget to hold in regard those whose names will never be known to anyone outside of their close circle.
The roots of all living things are tied together. Deep in the ground of being, they tangle and embrace. This understanding is expressed in the term nonduality. If we look deeply, we find that we do not have a separate self-identity, a self that does not include sun and wind, earth and water, creatures and plants, and one another.
Don’t ever think compassion is weak. Compassion is about strength.
In being with dying, we arrive at a natural crucible of what it means to love and be loved. And we can ask ourselves this: Knowing that death is inevitable, what is most precious today?
We have been teaching together [with Kaz] now for more than twenty years in sesshins, in international travel programs in Japan and China, as well as intensives on Buddhism that focus on the work of Zen Master Dogen and Ryokan, as well as on many of the Mahayana sutras.
In accepting death as inevitable, we don’t label it as a good thing or a bad thing. As one of my teachers once said to me, “Death happens. It is just death, and how we meet it is up to us.
Compassionate action emerges from the sense of openness, connectedness, and discernment you have created.
I am working on a technical paper on compassion. So I am reading everything I can on the subject, including my own mind and heart.
[I’m inspired by ] courageous young people who take a stand and go into the field to serve; really old people who see that every minute of life is to be lived fully and compassionately; and so many between this world and that world.
Catastrophe is the essence of the spiritual path, a series of breakdowns allowing us to discover the threads that weave all of life into a whole cloth.
Most of us are shrinking in the face of psycho-social and physical poisons, of the toxins of our world. But compassion, the generation of compassion, actually mobilizes our immunity.
My test for veracity has always been: How this will settle with a person who is dying? Boundlessness seemed to me to open the door to the true nature of mind that is pointed to in the Heart Sutra.
No single answer can hold the truth of a good heart.
Cease consuming, practice generosity.
We believe that it takes a strong back and a soft front to face the world.
May I see my own limits with compassion, just as I view the limits of others.
We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages: that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival.
For me, Buddhism is a psychology and a philosophy that provides a means, upayas, for working with the mind.
I remember having a discussion with [Kaz] about his translation of the word shunyata as “boundlessness,” instead of the more traditional “emptiness.” I said: “Kaz, everyone is used to the word emptiness for shunyata. This might not sit well with people. He said: “Translator’s prerogative!” Then he added, “One cannot assume we know what they meant….” I agreed.
Developing our capacity for compassion makes it possible for us to help others in a more skillful and effective way.
Compassion may be defined as the capacity to be attentive to the experience of others, to wish the best for others, and to sense what will truly serve others.
All beings, including each one of us, enemy and friend alike, exist in patterns of mutuality, interconnectedness, co-responsibility and ultimately in unity.
I believe that women and girls today have to partner in a powerful way with men – with their fathers, with their sons, with their brothers, with the plumbers, the road builders, the caregivers, the doctors, the lawyers, with our president and with all beings.
When we have disorderly lives, it makes it difficult for our minds to be orderly and for us to be at ease with disorder.
We in the “developed” world seem to have many auditory strategies that insulate us from the presence of silence, simplicity, and solitude. When I return to Western culture after time in desert, mountain or forest, I discover how we have filled our world with a multiplicity of noises, a symphony of forgetfulness that keeps our won thoughts and realizations, feelings and intuitions out of audible range.
If compassion is so good for us, why don’t we train our health care providers in compassion so that they can do what they’re supposed to do, which is to transform suffering?
When I first was exposed to Buddhism in the mid-1960s, I said it was so practical and utterly pragmatic. That’s what attracted me to Buddhism.
I’ve worked in the prison system, on death row and maximum security. I did that work for six years. I’ve worked with some of the most difficult people in our society. Buddhism was accessible and helpful for these individuals.
Kaz’s wilder work captures the great beauty of the human heart and the natural world.
Yes, creation is moving toward us; life is moving toward us all the time. We back away, but it keeps pushing toward us. Why not step forward and greet it.
Compassion has enemies, and those enemies are things like pity, moral outrage, fear.
Since we are already Buddhas, happy and suffering Buddhas, wise and confused Buddhas, we are already Buddha.
My work has been in the field of engaged Buddhism. That is my own practice, which began in 1965 that formed the base for the work I was doing in the civil rights and anti-war movement.
Whether or not enlightenment is possible at the moment of death, the practices that prepare one for this possibility also bring one closer to the bone of life.
There is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and too often we feel like we have to exhale all the time. The inhale is absolutely essential-and then you can exhale.
The Shobogenzo is an enormous work that captures the vastness of Dogen’s realization. Kaz, over many years, threaded the beads of these many fascicles into a great mala of wisdom.
To work with Kaz on this kind of project is a fascinating process…He seems to be Dogen himself when offering the translations that we Western collaborators then refine with him.
We have even done a weekend on Japanese grammar! Not that I know anything about Japanese grammar, but it was Kaz’s idea, and it was a bit of an adventure, to say the least.
Buddhist practice is the grounding for this work, this life, this way.
How about Burma, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, our streets, our neighborhoods, our own minds. We don’t have to look far – and we should look far as well.
All are interconnected…the environment; rights of the dying; care of caregivers; education and medical care for peoples of the Himalayas; prison work; those living on the margins of society, particularly kids.