Welcome to this glorious Friday, October 23, 2020! Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again. What do you say we think about others?
How many have helped you to become the person that you are today? When I think about this question, I get overwhelmed.
For generations upon generations, to some extent, countless others from all around the world have contributed to your life; your family, the people who grew your food, your teachers, those who built your homes and schools, and well, considering our interdependence, this list could go on forever. We have been supported by an infinite number of beautiful souls, human and otherwise. I often wonder if any of those who helped support us, think about, and recognize how they have contributed to our lives and helped us to grow and thrive. Do we think about all those who, through our actions, we might benefit? Our actions have rippling effects.
Whether we are aware of it or not, I’ve come to believe that everything we do, in varying degrees, affects others. What if we were to be Mindful of this inseparability in everything we do?
Though as a child I did a poor job of following through, my parents, teachers, and the religious denomination I belonged to, taught me to consider the well-being and rights of others before my own. I was, however, way too self-absorbed to put this wisdom into action. This doesn’t suggest that I wasn’t helpful and of service. I most certainly was in so many areas of my life. Nevertheless, when push came to shove, it was me before them.
As I look around at what is happening in our beloved world, in one sense, amidst all those who have and continue to put others before themselves, there seems to be a resurgence of self-preoccupation – an extreme selfishness to protect one’s own personal interests and comforts. This often comes at the expense of another. It may be that I’m hyper-aware of this self-obsession as it is so familiar to me in my life’s experience. Because I was consumed with it for so long, I know what being fixated on myself looks and feels like. As I think about this meow, I am reminded of the isolation, fear, and inner turmoil that accompanies this self-cherishing behavior. Yuck.
While we would all benefit by directing our energy towards the flourishing of others, there are paradoxical times when we must undoubtably care for ourselves and put our own well-being first.
Earlier today I got to have minor surgery to remove some skin cancer (I’m grateful to live in a part of the world where I have access to such technologically advanced healthcare). If I didn’t take care of this, well, obviously there would come a time when I couldn’t put your interests before mine. In fact, if I didn’t take care of this lesion, I’d require even more assistance from others for my fleeting survival. Nevertheless, I’m beginning to see how there is another way that we can care for ourselves while we simultaneously have the interests of others in the forefront of our awareness.
As the physician’s assistant was removing the cancer, I thought to myself, “not only does this benefit me, but it allows me to continue to be of service for others.” What if when we eat our meals, that so many others are responsible for, we were to consider how each bite is going to nourish us so that we can continue to be of service to others? What if each time we sat on our meditation cushion, we dedicated the merits of our practice for the benefit of all – humans, non-humans, and all our environment?
In everything we do, in varying degrees, we affect everyone and everything. What if we were to intentionally consider the well-being and interests of others with each of our thoughts and actions? Though I may have quite a bit of work to do to fully embody this altruistic ideal, I aspire. This is a world we could all flourish in. And while I can’t force anyone towards this philanthropic journey, as so many others have done before me, I can do my best to walk the path enough times so that it becomes visible to others.
I love you and there isn’t anything you can do about it,
With Bows of Appreciation,
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