‘Call forth as much as you can of love, of respect and of faith!
Remove the obstructing defilements and clear away all your taints!
Listen to the Perfect Wisdom of the gentle Buddhas,
Taught for the weal of the world,
for heroic spirits intended!’
from Ratnagunasamchayagatha sutta
This morning I was reflecting on how one event could trigger such a range of emotional responses around the world. Some people would be waking up this morning feeling deep joy, excitement and a potential for freedom from their suffering and others are burdened with a gut wrenching sense of despair, worry and fear. And of course there exists the whole a range of emotions in between. Same event- different personal experience. All responses coming from the same human wish to be happy and avoid suffering.
That wish is what all human beings have in common and its where we can find connection.
When I open myself up to the perfect wisdom of the gentle Buddhas at times like this the Dhammapada provides the balm.
‘For hatred can never put an end to hatred; love alone can.
This is an unalterable law.’
And then the poet Auden reminds me …
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
–Wystan Hugh Auden, September 1, 1939 (excerpt)
There is the inner voice, the outer voice and the voice that goes on even after one’s death.
I know I need to pay attention to my inner voice, listen compassionately to what it is saying, what it needs, turn towards it with kindness, and then let it have its expression in the world.
And perhaps then its outwardly expression has more chance of being in line with the advice from the Dhammapada…let love conquer hatred.
And of course that is a way for the voice and wisdom of the gentle Buddhas be heard long after we ourselves are gone.