Archive for the ‘compassion’ Category

This is the Sufi Prayer written backwards! See if you can read it.

This is the Sufi Prayer written backwards! See if you can read it.

(Below is a monthly reminder I send out. I want you to see how I am involved with the Compassion Movement in my hometown. Perhaps you can start something similar in your own neighborhood? Spread the Word, please!)

Hello Compassionate Friend,

You can bet ALL of us think we’re compassionate. But are we, really?

Please join us this week to discuss how we can expand our thinking about this vital subject. We talk about everything from how to be more compassionate in our own lives as well as in our circle and community. Simply by thinking more deeply about compassion we help BE the solution to life’s many challenges. Join us and help spread the growing awareness about compassion’s great healing power.

ALL are invited to an open discussion of Compassion
Wednesday evening, October 2, 2013, 7-8pm
(note: we meet EVERY 1st Weds)
At the community building of St. Cyprian’s Center at 130 Martin Luther King Ave, close to Lovett St in Lincolnville

Why talk about it?

Because the more something is talked about, the more our consciousness is affected, influenced, and changed. In the case of talking about compassion, we in the Compassion Movement believe that universally applying The Golden Rule is the solution to all the many problems that beset our fractured world today.  “Compassion is the sign of strength. Anger is the sign of weakness.” (His Holiness the Dalai Lama in May, 2013 at Youth Engaging Compassion conference in Louisville, Kentucky.)

Talk/Walk Compassion Discussion Group is an eclectic group of citizens who gather the first Wednesday of each month to discuss aspects of compassion. This is not a self-help group but rather … a Change-Maker group.

Here in St. Augustine our City Commissioners just declared ours a “Compassionate City” — the first in Florida!!and only the 20th in the entire world to take this positive leadership stand to promote inclusiveness and healing. Spreading awareness of compassion is the purpose of our discussion group. Our goal is to help heal our challenged world, one person at a time. Starting with our own selves.

Our only affiliation is with the CharterForCompassion.org
Please feel free to PASS THIS EMAIL ON to any you think might be interested.

For further information about our monthly discussion group or how you can get involved with the Compassion Movement, please respond to this email or use one of the contacts below.

Sincerely yours,
Ervin Bullock and teZa Lord, organizers of the group

(for mapquest:)
St. Cyprian’s Community Center
130 M L King Ave
St. Augustine, FL  32084

LOCAL contact:

compassionstaugustine.org

on Facebook: St. Augustine Initiative for Compassion
MAIN site for the International Compassion Movement:
the marvel of Nature

the marvel of Nature

We are the Tunnel, mixed media, 54“x42”We were walking along the edge of his Florida pasture one day, Bill, my father-in-law and I, taking advantage of another opportunity to talk about life and share each other’s company. I surprised myself that day when, after a young and rambunctious bull hopped the fence right in front of us, I instinctively approached it, not so much from bravery as an automatic reflex. Bill was already in his eighties and I, a mere forty-year-old then, wanted to protect the enfeebled old man, whom I was uncommonly fond of, and would have taken a bullet for, if truth were known.

“Watch out,” Bill said in his droll manner, cautioning me, alert to the unpredictable ways of livestock, especially a young upstart like this rowdy yearling-bull. “He’ll butt you hard if you don’t watch out.”

Wouldn’t you know just as Bill said this, the young bull charged me. But I, propelled by guardian mode, met the chest-high head of cowhide over steel with a double whammy fist right in the middle of the young animal’s eyes. Dazed almost as much as I, the bull shook his head and jumped right back over the fence, joining his four-legged family who stood bedazzled by the young daredevil’s adventure.

~

From the moment we met I loved Bill. I knew I wanted to marry his son the instant I heard Bill say to his elegant wife, “I must be in heaven, I thought I saw an angel,” when my future mother-in-law waltzed into the room to greet me that day. And it wasn’t he who objected to my bare feet, like she did, nor the fact that I was an artist and an adventurer of sorts. He wasn’t dubious about my mothering skills either, when it came down to whether I had what it takes to raise Carter’s two youngsters he had full custody of after a vicious divorce. This was a blended family we were a-brewing, creating a new dream of different backgrounds and faiths, cultural influences, even politics.

~

Grampa Bill, after his angel passed on, wasn’t one to let dust settle. Within nine months, at eighty-seven he married an acquaintance, a woman everybody hoped would be a great companion for his golden years. Sadly, she turned out to be an alcoholic and within five years the old man was not only divorced, but taken closer to the poor house by her shiftiness. Instead of finding another angel, Bill had been cornered by a succubus.

I sat with him as he sorted that one out. The trauma sent his mind to the farthest regions of awareness as he dove into the haze of senility.

In the numb twilight of Bill’s recovering from spousal abuse, he awoke one day to feel terribly sad, upset about our son’s debilitating football accident that would leave the seventeen year-old permanently handicapped.

“The worse thing that’s ever happened to our family,” the old man moaned loudly.

He wept that day I sat beside him, quietly talking of our son’s recent injury. Bill then reached into his pocket to grab what he thought was his linen handkerchief, always there. He didn’t realize it, and I said nothing to upset him further, but instead of the hanky he dabbed his flowing tears with a soft, used one-dollar bill.

I remembered hearing one of his daughters insist to the caretaker that he always had to have one in his pocket. “So daddy has some money and still feels he has some control over his life; just a token to help his self esteem,” she’d instructed.

~

Now, nearing ninety-nine, Bill was waiting for me as I caught the next plane from out west where Carter and I had gone camping. Bill knew – somehow, even at that final stage of the bumpy ride, filled with both joys and ravages that life brings us all – exactly who he wanted at his bedside. Of his four grown children and their spouses, I was the only in-law requested to be present. That’s because Bill was always more to me than just my husband’s dad.

Carter and I had driven out west on a month’s-long celebratory camping jaunt in honor of having successfully raised our kids. The minute the youngest joined his sister, safe and secure in college, we took off cross-country, driving to a new campsite every night, bicycling everywhere we could, cooking delicious food on wood campfires right outside our roomy tent. We were in Montana riding our bikes on the golden hills of the plains where the buffalo used to roam so abundantly, with the endless and eponymous Big Sky above, when we received word that our own old buffalo chief, Bill was on his death bed.

~

Three days before, Carter and I had ridden our bikes around southwestern South Dakota at Wounded Knee, close to the Lakota Indian Reservation. We were infatuated by the landscape, as foreign to us as if we’d landed on Mars. I leaned my bike against a rock and wandered away on foot from where Carter was intently observing a small animal or chasing some reptile between the hilly mounds and scrubby brush of that arid place.

A few quick strides and I came upon a jaw-dropping sight: an old grey buffalo, lying peacefully in a patch of sunlight. He must have gone off by himself, too, and was enjoying the last of the day’s fading sun. He paid me no attention as I came within ten yards of him and stayed that distance, half hidden by a hilly outcrop. I stood watching, fascinated to get so close to so magnificent a wild beast. He blinked and gazed toward me. I froze and met his eyes. He lifted his massive head back to catch the sun’s warmth, and serenely closed his lids, accepting my closeness.

He was at total rest, as if waiting, willing to embrace the inevitable shadow of the day’s end that was quickly approaching. I couldn’t help but think he might be getting close to pulling his last breath, by how resigned yet expectant he appeared. Immediately I thought of Bill, back home, and how he too, might be savoring his last moments in the gentle sun of life. The buffalo’s strong neck held his proud head high, feeling every morsel of warmth, absorbing it, yet at the same time he seemed to be honoring the disappearance of the bright disk above.

At my respectful distance I stood stick still, fascinated by such regality and noble strength that even in old age, was evidence of this huge animal having been a great leader in his day. As I watched the old buffalo I sensed he was preparing to die. What else could explain how this giant old rogue, now so feeble, so incapable, couldn’t keep up with the rest of his herd? Or why he had found this sunny, isolated spot to nestle in, between craggy rocks, so well hidden that Carter and I hadn’t noticed him when we approached the area earlier on our bikes.

While watching the old bull, his wet and flaring snout held high, his eyes occasionally roaming the horizon – totally aware of me – I saw how solemnly, how bravely he faced the last strong rays of the resting sun. Again, I thought of Bill, our family’s Grampa, and wondered if this ancient bison – not in distress but oblivious, and ready to leave behind that which no longer served his noble pursuits – was a sign that our own family’s chief, back home, was soon to leave his earthly body.

A few days later, in Montana then, we received the call.

Bill waited for Carter to arrive first, and then for me to come the next day, because there was only one seat out of Missoula the day we got the expected news. When Bill saw I had made it, he right away sat up in bed, agile as a trapeze artist, and said, “Oh, you’re here!” and immediately fell back down. Within an hour he lapsed into the in-between shadows of not-here, not-there of his approaching, last sunset.

~

Our kids were away in college as their Grampa rested in these waning hours of his life’s shine, while Carter, his brother and sisters and I gathered around our family’s old bull, being present for the head of our family’s comfort and ease in this, his glorious and final passage.

I wouldn’t have missed this most important event in Bill’s life, his last rite of passage, just as momentous as his earlier ones must have been. His four children and I stood around his bed, we who loved him so, witnessing Bill’s last breath as we joined hands around our favorite old bull, saying prayers, whispering comforts, saying our good-byes, offering heart-quaking thank yous.

Moments after, there was only stillness from Bill’s suddenly empty form, lying nobly and chief-like, surrounded by his tribe.

~

Later, alone with the love of my life, the man who shared his father’s great capacity to nurture, to love, I asked Carter in a small voice, “Why do you think Bill wanted me here?”

My own father, with whom I’d had a strained relationship, died twenty years before with me by his side also. Since marrying Carter, Bill had become my surrogate father, my pal, a role model for parenting: an unmatched spiritual mentor. He filled in the chinks of my broken faith in paternal strength, making up for all the misunderstandings and shortcomings of my own father, a troubled man. I could talk to Bill in private about my dreams, and he’d help me understand myself better. His wisdom affirmed how the subconscious affects us all so deeply. Dreams, you see, were Bill’s passion, and while he was a successful businessman, he was also an expert dream interpreter. He encouraged everyone he met to follow their dreams.

Now Carter looked at me and said simply, “Because dad loves you, teZa.”

My heart grew like a balloon pushing against my chest, realizing I was included in this inner circle not by chance, but by life’s many choices that had led us all together.

the Tipping Point

the Tipping Point

When enough of us share with others that Compassion is the answer to our current global dilemma … the world will transform into a higher realm of understanding the diversity of our human condition. Now that so many of us are already aware of this need … we have arrived at “the Tipping Point” … the number of awakened souls already achieved, to ignite a worldwide transformation. We have done this one person at a time. YOU can help the Love Revolution already afoot by becoming more involved with thinking, and acting compassionately. Help spread the word that Compassion is needed to bridge gaps between people all across the globe: caused by political, cultural, and religious differences. There are many ways you can help.

The first is visit the Charter for Compassion’s website and add your “click” (your voice) to affirm the idea of a compassionate world. The Charter for Compassion is the worldwide grassroots movement, originally sponsored by TED (after Karen Armstrong won the “wish” of 2008). The Charter’s work is dedicated to spreading the word and educating others about the necessity of living more compassionately. Affirm the charter (no obligation!) then come back and read how to further spread the word by starting a discussion with your family, your neighbor … your community. Right below here I’ve included the guidelines by which we’ve started a group to discuss how-to-live-compassionately in our own community.

Start a compassion-discussion group in your neighborhood or community

These guidelines can be used to start a discussion group in your circle, your town, church/ temple/ synagogue/ tent/ living-room/ basement, organization, or within your own family. Each topic can be a focus of conversation for a group. The following is a summary of Karen Armstrong’s book, “12 Steps to a Compassionate Life.” Armstrong’s book is a more thorough explanation of the Charter for Compassion, which we’ve already discussed here on Lord Flea.

Read the synopsis of “12 Steps to a Compassionate Life” aloud, to begin a discussion.

1. Learn About Compassion –Study first how compassion is expressed in our own traditions, then explore similarities with other traditions. Understand that, Doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, is the future of humanity.

2. Look at Our Own World – Begin in our own family and community to practice the Golden Rule. Daily, make sure not to do to someone what we wouldn’t want done to ourselves.

3. Begin With Self – Love your own Self first, then you can love someone else.

4. Empathy – Learn to feel empathy for our own struggles, and then we will feel it for others.

5. Mindfulness – Cultivate wholesome states of mind. Change destructive thinking and behavior patterns to positive thinking. Observe, then choose to change by using the Awareness–Acceptance–Action method.

6. Action – Build new habits of mind-body-spirit by practicing repetitively the Golden Rule.

7. How Little We Know –Seek to understand rather than be understood, letting go of certainties and judgments. Recognize the unknown and unknowable.

8. Communicate with Others –Ask questions of others; listen intently and sympathetically; allow possibilities to expand our convictions. Accept that it’s okay not to have all the answers.

9. Concern for Everybody – Let go of certainties and believe in the absolute equality of human beings, knowing we are all part of the web of life, and our creed is the Golden Rule.

10. Knowledge –Recognize the dangers of habitual thought patterns. Open to understanding others throughout the world. Study other cultures and traditions with an impartial attitude.

11. Recognition –Look at another and see that we are the same; there is no us and them. Relate our own suffering to the distress of others.

12. Love Our Enemies – Acknowledge it’s difficult to love our enemies. Transcendence occurs when we learn how. This happens by recognizing the sanctity of all life. Now we can find compassionate solutions to all global problems.

How this group can succeed

Start a discussion group based on the points above, a good way to locally take action and help our world heal. In addition, while discussing the12 Steps for Living Compassionately privately or publicly, create a safe environment for heartfelt sharing by respectfully listening when others speak. Cross-talk, whispering or joking with someone else while another is sharing, muttering or making faces, countering or commenting on another’s point-of-view do not create an atmosphere of safety so essential to the process of discussing how meaningful change occurs.

In discussion, we strive to express only our point of view and truly hear (listen) to the others who speak by turn. In countering another, too often a cordial discussion can escalate into an argument. Sharing, then, is expressing your own view, not denying anybody else’s.

To clarify group’s intention, read this after the 12 Steps

These twelve steps to a compassionate life are neither aligned with any political movement or party, religious or social affiliation, nor any outside influence other than the Charter for Compassion.

We are self-sufficient and do not accept contributions from outside sources, relying solely on our members’ support. Our purpose is to help bring about peaceful change so the world can live more compassionately.

(The above two paragraphs could be read aloud at the beginning of a compassion group discussion meeting, passing the basket if funds are needed for space or refreshments. This format is copied from the successful manner in which anonymous meetings are run. Please begin a group in your community, as we have in ours. Share with us here at Lord Flea how your group is going, its successes, its challenges. Thanks!)

Love to you all from your pal,

Lord Flea aka teZa Lord