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.