Looking At Everything

Recent postings on Jade Mountains have got me reflecting quite a lot on how we can be driven by influences that end up being not good reasons for doing things.

I guess that everyone is different, but up there for me in these influences there are the things that other people think I should be doing; then there are the habitual patterns; and then there are the things that in some way I personally feel I should be doing – and here I find it gets tricky.

It seems that there is often some deep hurt or sadness inside us that makes us want to help or heal or somehow change the world and put it to rights. I am (often deeply) disturbed by the question What am I doing about it– where the it can be whatever we personally are drawn to, which for me has included the abuse, prostitution and trafficking of children; decimation of ancient forest, woodland and wilderness; the pain and suffering of members of my – quite extended – family.

Letting go of this disturbance and the craving to help seems to need an honest and direct looking at what is driving us. And sometimes what we need to look at triggers a deep hurt and even a sense of despair. Not looking somehow leaves the hurt and despair driving us, and yet the looking can be heartbreaking. I was once told by a senior monk that yes, it could be heartbreaking and actually sometimes it had to be – the breaking made an opening for the compassion to flow through us.

And from this it seems to me now that there can be a move not so much to grand heroic initiatives and world changing grand plans but rather to small acts of kindness. The horizon of our concern comes down to the personal, direct and immediate – I spend time with my family, I go and work or just be in the woodland, I try to respond as best I can to whatever calls for help come to me.

Then the feeling of the need to justify my actions can be seen as one of those distractions I find to pull me away from what is right in front of me, and yes, this can sometimes be because I am frightened or hurt by what I think is right in front of me.

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3 thoughts on “Looking At Everything”

  1. This posting is an act of kindness, Andrew.

    This has been a huge and somewhat defining struggle for me as well. ‘Should’ has been a major obstacle for a long time. The temptation to stay entranced by the self-demands to ‘fix’ things remains strong, but you are right: it’s a distraction.

    At times, I have to drop right into the physical sensations of the sadness that arise with these issues, feel through them without even labeling it. Maybe this is some rudimentary form of acceptance, I don’t know. Often the opportunity to give or receive a small kindness follows. Coincidence?

    Your posting is a comforting mirror to working with this, thank you.

    In gassho, Jim

  2. Hello Andrew,
    I can’t quite follow the reflecting-process, but -being different- I feel a great respect towards your training in this way.

    How do I look at everything-I thought? I don’t know, the ‘looking’ the ‘at’ and the ‘everything’ don’t feel seperate at the moment; to me this means I am responsible too for what happens, I am part of it and that frightens me really while I write this. And within that immediate fear I sense what I can’t describe, can’t understand and can’t think about.
    in gassho

  3. Dear Andrew,
    yes, it’s interesting to see how different we are and how these different things can drive us if we don’t stop and look. I well remember what used to drive my life (trying to help starving, poor people). A talk with a monk clarified the drive – and since then I feel less driven by this particular aspect, or guilty that I have not achieved what I ‘had to do’. A weight fell off my shoulders.

    Interesting what happened last week though. I received an e-mail from someone I know in a far away country. Would I help his charity who is helping poor children to go to school and to give them a chance? BUT why did some thoughts of resentment and doubt appear in me? just because I was asked to do something and this had not come out of ‘my drive’? After all, it’s so much better if the solution comes from people themselves rather than outsiders (as Adrienne put so succinctly).Giving freely, willingly and openly and getting my self out of the way – I’ll ponder about this.

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