Tag Archives: friendship

Where is Your Voice?

Nakalele Blowhole, Maui

Photo: Kent Buckingham.

Are you brave enough to speak your truth in this world? Are you able to ask for what you need? Defend the rights of others? Be the voice for the voiceless?

At 43, I am still learning how to use this instrument. At times, I can feel the fear gathering in my throat- getting stuck in the muck of self doubt, the fear of being perceived as selfish, or worse- the fear of being judged. This fear silences me and it takes away my freedom, my happiness, and my power.

Thich Nhat Hahn tells us that every answer can be found in nature. By going out into the fresh air, breathing deeply, stepping mindfully, and listening carefully we can receive the wisdom from all of the living beings that surround us- the trees as they sway and creak, the waves as they gather and crash, and the wind as it rages and roars. These voices have spoken for millions of years and exemplify the confidence and courage- steadfastness and simplicity- that I long to manifest.

It is through my practice of observing nature, that I have been able to connect with my deepest truth and my unique voice. Whether I am on the trails of Mt Rainier, at the cliffs of Nakalele in Maui, or in the starlit desert of Chaco Canyon, if I sit still- and listen- I am able experience the interconnectedness of all things and tap into the current of the world. In these moments of quietude, I sense that my body is made from dirt and wood, water and salt, space and air. Sinking into this knowing, I can realize that:

Their voice is My voice. 

And although it may last for just one moment, in that moment, I am a bird set free. With that awareness, I am given permission to be brazen, to open my compassionate heart, and to glide into the universe unapologetically. With that awareness, I am released from fear and able to express myself and flourish.

On this day:

May all beings hear the wisdom of the trees, the ocean, and the wind.

May all beings have the ability to be their true selves.

May all beings be free.

LLM

 

 

 

 

Interbeing- Thich Nhat Hahn

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“Interbeing: If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here-time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper elements.” And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without “non-paper elements,” like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh

The Five Mindfulness Trainings by Thich Nhat Hahn

buddha:stonesThe Five Mindfulness Trainings

The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. They are a concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate the insight of interbeing, or Right View, which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are already on the path of a bodhisattva. Knowing we are on that path, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.

Reverence For Life

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.

True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and stop contributing to climate change.

True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices (2009)

A Friendship Blessing (Includes The Anam Ċara), by John O’Donohue

 

beautiful bloom blooming blossom
Photo by Gru on Pexels.com

From Anam Ċara

A Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam ċara. 


The Anam Ċara

In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship.  One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam ċara.  Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and ċara is the word for friend.  So anam ċara in the Celtic world was the “soul friend.”  In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam ċara.  It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life.  With the anam ċara you could share your innermost self, your mind, and your heart.  This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging.  When you had an anam ċara, your friendship cut across all convention, morality, and category.  You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul.”  The Celtic understanding did not set limitations of space or time on the soul.  There is no cage for the soul.  The soul is a divine light that flows into you and into your Other.  This art of belonging awakened and fostered a deep and special companionship.  In his Conferences, John Cassian says this bond between friends is indissoluble: “This, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what no interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part.”

In everyone’s life, there is great need for an anam ċara, a soul friend.  In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension.  The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are.  Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious.  Where you are understood, you are at home.  Understanding nourishes belonging.  When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person’s soul.  This recognition is described in a beautiful line from Pablo Neruda: “You are like nobody since I love you.”  This art of love discloses the special and sacred identity of the other person.  Love is the only light that can truly read the secret signature of the other person’s individuality and soul.  Love alone is literate in the world of origin; it can decipher identity and destiny.

It is precisely in awakening and exploring this rich and opaque inner landscape that the anam-ċara experience illuminates the mystery and kindness of the divine.  The anam ċara is God’s gift.  Friendship is the nature of God.  The Christian concept of God as Trinity is the most sublime articulation of otherness and intimacy, an eternal interflow of friendship.  This perspective discloses the beautiful fulfillment of our immortal longing in the words of Jesus, who said, Behold, I call you friends.  Jesus, as the son of God, is the first Other in the universe; he is the prism of all difference.  He is the secret anam ċara of every individual.  In friendship with him, we enter the tender beauty and affection of the Trinity.  In the embrace of this eternal friendship, we dare to be free.  There is a beautiful Trinitarian motif running through Celtic spirituality.  This little invocation captures this:

The Sacred Three
My fortress be
Encircling me
Come and be round
My hearth and my home.

Consequently, love is anything but sentimental.  In fact, it is the most real and creative form of human presence.  Love is the threshold where divine and human presence ebb and flow into each other.

All presence depends on consciousness.  Where there is a depth of awareness, there is a reverence for presence.  Where consciousness is dulled, distant, or blind, the presence grows faint and vanishes.  Consequently, awareness is one of the greatest gifts you can bring to your friendship.  Many people have an anam ċara of whom they are not truly aware.  Their lack of awareness cloaks the friend’s presence and causes feelings of distance and absence.  Sadly, it is often loss that awakens presence, by then it is too late.  It is wise to pray for the grace of recognition.  Inspired by awareness, you may then discover beside you the anam ċara of whom your longing has always dreamed.

The Celtic tradition recognized that an anam-ċara friendship was graced with affection.  Friendship awakens affection.  The heart learns a new art of feeling.  Such friendship is neither cerebral nor abstract.  In Celtic tradition, the anam ċara was not merely a metaphor or ideal.  It was a soul-bond that existed as a recognized and admired social construct.  It altered the meaning of identity and perception.  When your affection is kindled, the world of your intellect takes on a new tenderness and compassion.  The anam ċara brings epistemological integration and healing.  You look and see and understand differently.  Initially, this can be disruptive and awkward, but it gradually refines your sensibility and transforms your way of being in the world.  Most fundamentalism, greed, violence, and oppression can be traced back to the separation of idea and affection.  For too long we have been blind to the cognitive riches of feeling and the affective depth of ideas.  Aristotle said in De Anima, “Perception is ex hypothesi a form of affection and being moved; and the same goes for thinking and knowing. . .  .  Thinking particularly is like a peculiar affection of the soul.”  The anam-ċara perspective is sublime because it permits us to enter this unity of ancient belonging.