Living a Life of Loving Kindness by Paul Hunt Cuffee, RScP
Love has no awareness of merit or demerit; it has no scale by which its portion may be weighed or measured. It does not seek to balance giving or receiving. Love loves; this is its nature.
The nature of Love is to love, and the greatest expression of love that one can demonstrate is loving kindness.
Often in these times,
my heart weeps invisible tears
Often in these times,
my soul cries out
I am not the one
Not the One
Built to celebrate anguish
Yet in these times,
The pain of the world
Is the loudest song
The loudest song
Being sung in these terrible dreams….
Yet in these times,
The glowing road beckoning
Through this sullen night
The pathway away from chaos
Shining with warm light
We are all travelers together, journeying endlessly toward the truth. Like it or not, aware of it or not, we are each inextricably connected with the other. There is in truth NO OTHER, so it is that in our connectedness we are the direct result of, and creators of each other’s experiences of, this thing called life. For example: In response to and as an action to reverse systemic racism in the United States, you may proclaim that BLACK LIVES MATTER, with deep knowing that all lives matter, yet with that knowing you feel a driving urge to emphasize what is being forsaken: BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Knowing that interwoven into that proclamation is the undeniable truth that all of life matters, recognizing that your proclamation will shed light on an overshadowed truth, thereby bringing light to the lives of others in peril. You may exercise your freedom of speech by making statements contrary to all popular opinion or belief, enflaming passions and challenging established thought, knowing full well that inherent in that action is the promise of the First Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing you the right to speak as you see fit. Yet, you will choose to wear a mask when going out in public, against your own basic desire to not do so and knowing full well that the First Amendment means you don’t have to; you choose to do so not to protect yourself from COVID-19, but to protect your fellow humans from you.
These are demonstrations of loving kindness and radical compassion—choosing what is not comfortable in order to create a greater experience of well being for all humanity. What’s interesting about that is that often times what we are being called by our own innate good nature to do is something difficult or challenging, or just not on our to do list at the moment, yet we show up. We do the thing—wear the mask, go to the protest, yield our place in line for someone with more groceries than us, someone who appears to be struggling with their load. We attempt to lighten the load of that stranger, thereby reducing the strangeness that lies between us and replacing it with commonality. And let’s face it, these are strange days indeed.
We are being called to yield our place in line--we men who forever have luxuriated in patriarchal privilege while our women kin have been relegated to a perpetual second-class citizenship, replete with less pay for the same work, less protection in the same public space, less personal liberty over their own bodies, and less autonomy over their own lives, not to mention less respect and value for carrying an equal and too often greater burden for sustaining life. And white folk who have blissfully basked in ignorant and oblivious privilege, while people of color have been burdened by the oppressive yolk of injustice and racism—relegated to living with the quietly internalized terror of being lynched, legally or illegally, literally or metaphorically, by a system purposely designed to exploit and control their/our every movement.
Yet now, with the whole world yanked to a halt by a microscopic aggressor, we have all become allies in each other’s survival. You may want to consider that, inherent in this new reality, hidden within all this new, strange and peculiar normal that is unfolding, there are profound gifts of growth and evolution also unfolding, and there are tremendous opportunities to demonstrate loving kindness. The differences we thought and falsely believed to be real have begun to give way to a deeper understanding of Unity and Oneness.
Our collective discomfort has awakened a new realization that we are all together facing the same tribulation. White folk are organizing Black Lives Matter protests, conservative Supreme Court Justices are affirming LGBTQI civil rights, and low-wage workers are being recognized as true heroes. Often we think of compassion or loving kindness as being nice, yet what it truly calls for is the courage to be rigorously honest with yourself and others, without judgment or prejudice. To demonstrate loving kindness is to be nakedly present in the moment, seeing all that is in front of you through the gaze of Love. To demonstrate loving kindness is to allow the natural unfolding of reality with an open heart and be willing to accept what may be called consequences.
This is also the nature of fierce compassion. When we get and use the true power of fierce compassion, we begin to make the concept of Unity and Oneness real. And just what is Unity and Oneness ? What does it mean to see past our differences and to gaze deeply into the heart and soul of another in order to recognize oneself? Part of what it means is that you allow all the feelings, think all the thoughts, and in these extremely tender and volatile times, I believe it means the “count to ten” rule should be expanded to 100.
People are dying, old ways are dying, confidence and expectations around old systems are dying, and as we all know, death is the epitome of loss. Loss means grief, and grief requires presence and attention. Let us all allow for and make space for our grief, bringing it the presence and attention it warrants. Let us all allow our grief without inviting it to define us.
Out of all of this dying away there is a new birth unfolding—new with possibilities as yet unknown. It is possible to create from this unfolding, rather than wallow in self pity and nostalgia. So we allow the grief to awaken inspiration, we allow the feelings of grief to ignite creative passion, and most importantly, we allow the love we have for our world to move us into right action, creating a world that works for everyone and the foundation of a platform that perpetuates that creation.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro in The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness writes: “I don’t think lovingkindness is about being nice. I believe it is about being fearless…. To have the courage to mirror reality, you have to be willing to feel everything even as you cling to nothing.”
And so my friends, we cling to nothing, allowing only Love to shape us, and allowing only Kindness to be our expression; not sentimental nicey-niceness, but the Kindness of presence, attentiveness, honest compassion, and gentle recognition. It is from that place of Love and Kindness that our strength will grow, our empowerment will be anchored, and our transformation into fully realized expressions of the Divine will be made manifest. We are all and each of us saints, anointed with perfect wholeness, and endowed with infinite grace. Let us now and always remember that; knowing fully and deeply that we belong to each other.
In closing, I offer you this:
Do What You Can to Be Love
This virus has intentions
Changing all the dimensions And All perception Welcome to the reception Immediately following the ceremony Celebrating the second decade Of the new century
Sentries standing sentinel Guarding the toilet paper aisle We are being told to keep our distance And to politely smile It’s all air kisses And virtual hugs Someone has pulled out all the rugs Out from under our pedicured feet This virus has expectations We are being called to meet
Meat has vacated the grocery store shelf Say hello to your new self Greet the new Vegan the clean freaks And germaphobes Smile for the Instagram camera Don’t squint from the strobe This virus has called us to be Newly present Buckle your belts and return your seat backs and tray tables. Prepare for descent.
There will be no dissent The lines have been drawn clear This viruses is introducing you To your deepest fear But behold the light There far off It’s no train It’s a beacon sent to Illuminate one sweet refrain Which is this: This virus is a mysterious Gift from above This virus is calling us all to be Love
Yes my friends, we are being called to be love, you and I.
We Are All New Here.