Monday, September 13, 2010

Annie Showed Up

Candidates for Compassion

I have reframed and expanded the following quotation. The quotation was originally offered in a talk given by Rimpoche Nawang Gehlek, founder of Jewel Heart, an organization dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture and Buddhism. The subject of the talk was 9/11 and how to respond to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. However, Gehlek Nawang's observation really applies in more general circumstances and so I rewrote it for that purpose. The original issue of course was the hatred with which so many of us view the actions of the hijackers of the planes of 9/11.

We must see that when we feel anger, hatred, or some other resistance toward another person, we are not really reacting to the harm they may have caused us but we are reacting instead to that person's inability to adjust to the world and to feel about the world accurately. In such a state people act as if they are blind. It turns out they are unable to stand up for themselves, that they have caved in on themselves. They have submitted completely to their negative emotions about things. They may consider themselves righteous in the way they are approaching their own lives and the lives of others, but we can see how stupid they have actually been. They have allowed themselves to be enslaved by one or more of their negative emotions. Who are better candidates for compassion than those who have been enslaved, perhaps without even knowing they have been enslaved?

This observation is of course fundamental to the vision with which the Tibetans resist the Chinese occupation of their own homeland. The statement, “we must see…” at the beginning of the passage is a statement that if followed leads to wise behavior. If we do not see this as we must, then we risk being condemned to the same enslavement found in those who have done us harm.

“Here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

My poem refers to the ghost of my former wife, Ann Sheekley, who died in 2001, five years after our divorce, and a little over a month after 9/11. What befell Ann called me to the kind of compassionate vision I have described above.

Annie Showed Up

I am confounded.
Where did you come from this time?
In my face again,
telling me, only
you can, how I lack all earth
and float above things,
not a good thing now
that I am to choose a way
to continue, to
love the world again.

July 16, 2009 8:22 PM


  1. That we are spirit and flesh creates in us to a terrible dichotomy. I've heard it said that we aren't human beings on a spiritual journey but spiritual beings on a human journey. When we are comfortable in both, I think we've finally self-actualized.

  2. Yes, Karen, definitely both, at least for now. It is the weird thing about language, and about our inner lives that we frame this life in dichotomy as if it is the true source of the world. It is not, even though the same dichotomous conundrum seems built in to things all the way down to the fundament of the world.

    We are forced by quantum truth to frame the objects of our experiments in dichotomy when we say they are particles expressed in the form of wave functions as well as being little dots, depending on how we look at them.

    Thus it matters how we are required by our choices to look at ourselves, whether we are human looking at the dynamic of the spirit path or we are spirit being tempered in this human way. This split screen comes from bottom up as well as top down.

    Alpha and omega. Though we demand that uni-verse is uni-tary instinctively, there is this other dichotomous strain on things. The gnostic vision of the world codifies a condensed duality of good and evil. This dualistic thread of description is never far from placing its own demand on things. It is how the brain works, on and off, black and white, good and evil. And deeper yet - man and woman.

  3. Feet need to be firmly planted on the Earth, to allow the spirit to soar above it...

  4. Jinsky, astrology would argue with you there, and does in my chart, where I lack all emphasis on Earth and in fact my heart is held in opposition to it, Scorpio to Taurus. My earth is a projected and inverted mirror of myself unless I make a discipline out of remembering that I am indeed here on the planet. And with Moon in Pisces, I am embedded in the reality of earth much as a fish in water, an unconscious assumption that it will always be there and hold me as I swim and breathe.

    I have had to struggle to acquire a simulation of feet on the ground. It does not at all come natural, and in fact my primary fantasies involve getting away and going back home, whatever that means.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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