Overcoming fear with compassion
No one has to tell you we live in tumultuous times. Conversations with my clients, students, and friends reveal that they are finding it a challenge to be in a peaceful and loving state. Daily reports of hate and anger and violence toward others and the earth make it all too easy to succumb to negativity ourselves. It becomes all too easy to lose our sense of peace and centeredness, making it hard to keep our anxieties and fears and worries at bay.
Yet maintaining our sense of peace and centeredness is exactly what we’re called to do. But we can’t, and don’t have to, do it alone. Despite outward appearances, a shift is happening that is pulling us toward greater oneness and balance. We have glimpses: Muslims giving keys to their mosques to Jews whose places of worship have been destroyed, and vice versa, and groups and individuals doing countless acts of loving-kindness to counteract anger, hatred, and pain.
Grace, joy, and love
What we’re witnessing, and are in the midst of, is nothing less than the end of an era—and the backlash is very strong and very nasty. Yet what I perceive time and again in prayer and meditation is that we must act from a place of grace, joy, and love. No doubt about it: This is difficult when we’re surrounded by loud, strident voices and acts of anger, hatred, and fear, all of which are intended to divide us and create more anger and fear.
It’s time to do your own work! If you find yourself caught up in feelings of judgment, anger, and fear, consider them gifts, gifts that show what still needs to be healed in you. If you receive each instance as an opportunity for personal growth, you will not only be healing some deep inner wounding in yourself, but also in the collective.
We may think otherwise, but we truly do have a choice, moment by moment, between fear or love, judgment or acceptance. To be clear, acceptance is neither passively letting something happen nor condoning something you disagree with. It is acknowledging with clear vision where you are, what the situation is, and agreeing that you will not add to the negative emotional energy around it. We are being called to act with confidence and solidarity, with the love and compassion that arises from a heart of gratitude. Deepen your spiritual practices. Great peace and love is available even in this tumultuous time. Every time you tap into that peace and love—and act from that place—you not only provide an antidote to all its opposites, but you support the emerging, underlying shift.
Gratitude and kindness
You cannot live in fear and in love at the same time; you cannot be in judgment and in gratitude at the same time. Do your work so all you do comes from a place of love and gratitude. Practice gratitude daily, especially when you feel judgment.
Every act of kindness, every act of love, has an exponential effect in this unsettling climate. A wise person has said, “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
Rabbi David Wolpe writes, “We bring light into this world not as a source but as a prism—it comes through us. As electricity requires a conduit, so spirit moves through human beings to touch others in crucial moments.” We live in such a crucial moment right now. And, it is our acts of kindness and love that allow us to touch others – to connect with those who are suffering; they are true acts of compassion. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Compassion can be as powerful as thunder.”
May you connect with Source. May you do your inner work. Just think what can happen if every one of us does that. I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptural passages: “Let justice roll down like water; and righteousness like an ever-rolling stream.” (Amos 5:24). “Righteousness” in this text means “doing the right thing,” rather than having a superior attitude (it is not self-righteousness). I always picture a thundering waterfall and a swift-moving creek or river when I read this text.
Remember: Water seeks its own level. Although it may appear as if fear and separation are ruling the day, great love and compassion are apparent, too. It is time to be kind. It is time to be love. Be gratitude. Connect with others. Be in solidarity. And may your compassion be as powerful as thunder!
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