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Compassion Doesn’t Choose Sides

Compassion Doesn’t Choose Sides

Recently I did an interview with Rick Archer at Buddha at the Gas Pump. I had not been given any questions in advance, so I had no idea what direction Rick would take the discussions.

The first direction he took was toward my suicide attempt.

The archive of that interview has been up only four days at this point, and between the unedited original video and the official BATGAP video, it has already been watched more than 5000 times. http://batgap.com

The responses have been incredible, and one of the most common comments I have received is thanks for the compassion and “realness” with which I talked about the subject of severe depression.

Rick clearly pushed a lot of buttons with a “chin up” and “it’s just wrong” comment he made, but his remarks were important for all of us to hear. He gave voice to a common frustration that many people feel in not knowing how to relate to others who feel so alone or helpless in their despair. In the same way that one who has never had metaphysical events cannot relate to the scale of confusion that comes from having such profound experiences, one who has never reached such severe depths of despair as to attempt suicide cannot relate to the scale of confusion that comes from hitting a psychological/mental/emotional bottom where death seems to be the only way to finally end the suffering. For the person embodying the metaphysical event or suicidal ideation, everything is far too intimately and individually experienced for most others to empathetically relate.

Since the interview, I have been contacted by academics, therapists, social media groups and individuals who thanked me for helping to illuminate the immense struggles of people seeking to connect and feel less alone, less confused, and less depressed. Many said that just hearing me tell my story made them feel relief; that it was helpful to hear someone admit publicly that as our world is changing it can by REALLY hard to adjust to new feelings, new experiences and new understandings.

Most who contacted me also expressed dismay over Rick’s judgmental “it’s just wrong” comments, which they viewed as a lack of compassion. But I want to urge people who look at this kind of judgment as heartless to reach a little deeper. As I talked about in the second half of my interview, our individual reactions in these times have the power to change the world. Rather than responding to what one might consider to be a lack of compassion with an equal measure of lack of compassion, we can use our own experiences and our own voices to invite greater dialogue and understanding.

We can start by simply acknowledging the vast common ground we all stand on. We can acknowledge that while we may have different perspectives and opinions, we all share a deep desire to be happy and to see others happy as well. We can embrace that in each other right where we are, without imposing anything further into the equation.

Once we’re willing to meet each other where we are, and we open up to both receive and give from a more compassionate place within, we will soon be able to see and acknowledge joyfully that we also share a deep desire to love each other unconditionally. We can admit that we have no idea how to do that yet, but that doesn’t prevent us from finding ways to direct our spiritual life toward that end. Because unconditional love is where we’re heading. It’s what Jesus and Buddha taught and what countless religious doctrines teach. So why not point our spiritual compass in that direction now?

I encourage everyone to aim to gather on our vast common ground and support each other wherever, however, whenever we can. Because every voice, every presence matters. None of us are in this alone, ever.

I love you and I am so glad we’re here in this exciting time together.

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Me And That Dalai Dude

Me And That Dalai Dude

I grew up with a deeply personal relationship to Jesus but was never a church goer, nor was I interested in Christianity or any other religion. Jesus was the only religious figure I had ever really thought about, so I never knew anything about the guy known as the Dalai Lama or the guy he represents, Buddha. But as I reveal in my book, four years ago I discovered I have an unusual and very rare connection to Buddha and his great ambassador, the Dalai Dude, and my life seems to keep validating this over and over again.

dalai2

April 2014

This April, as happened last year, I was in a crowd of people who came to see the Dalai Lama speak at his temple in India and happened to be standing EXACTLY where His Holiness came to stand and take photos, so I got to hold his hand – twice. As my friend Nicole witnessed with the same shock I experienced, this year he actually looked straight at me among the crowd, reached out his hand to me and then came to stand beside me for the photo.

DalaiLama2.0

April 2015

Last week some friends and I went to hear the Dalai Lama give his final talk of a three-day teaching to Tibetan students. We thought the talk began at 8:30am like the previous days, but it turns out it was scheduled to start earlier. When we arrived at 7:15am the venue was already full and we were directed to a hillside out of sight of the main teaching area. As we were walking up the hill I noticed a row of men at the entrance to the teaching hall dressed in traditional Tibetan costume. I asked one of the guards if I could just duck under the security rope and take some photos and he said yes.

dalai waitingI had been standing in one spot taking photos for less than 60 seconds when another guard told me I had to step behind the white line, which when I looked down I could see meant I had to step backwards about six inches. When I looked up again I saw a car coming right in front of me, and to my surprise, it was the Dalai Lama. (Photo is without any zoom.)

dalai talk3And then because I was already near the main teaching area when he arrived, I was able to stay there with no problem.

dalai talkI left the talk a few minutes before it was over because someone else was speaking and I wasn’t interested in what they had to say. As my friend Tanja and I headed out to the main road to wait for our other friends, we realized we might actually see the Dalai Lama coming out the same way. Sure enough, less than five minutes after we started walking, here he came, right in front of us. (Video is also without zoom.) Dalai Lama leaving teachings.

I feel incredibly blessed to have these strong connections to such powerful teachers of kindness, compassion, joy and peace. In my metaphysical experiences I get exquisite time with Jesus and Buddha, and in my physical experiences I get extraordinary time with the Dalai Lama. I am always aware of feeling deeply grounded and real in their presence, because I am reminded then of who I Am, sharing in profound collective energies of Divine Love.

As we all are, though most do not know this. But I tell you, it is true. It is true.

May every moment of our time together in Love – with whomever we are around – be of benefit to all beings.

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