August 26     

Today's quotation:

It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers and sisters. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them. . . . Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers and sisters for what they are, not for what they say.

Thomas Merton

Today's Meditation:

I'm not an idiot, and I'm not a rude person.  But sometimes I say things that might make other people think otherwise.  That's how I know that when other people say or do things that make them look rude or obnoxious, the chances are very good that the person's words or actions are not a good indicator of who that person is.

I might put on a monkey suit and act like a monkey, but that doesn't make me a monkey.  Likewise, the fact that another person acts like a jerk doesn't make that person a jerk.  In reality, we all are beautiful creations of the same God-- whatever we perceive God to be-- here on this planet for a human experience, going through similar trials and tribulations but reacting differently to them.

It's in silence and solitude that I can come to the understanding that every person on this planet is a brother or sister, and deserving of my love.  Out in the "real world" it's very easy to fall into the trap of reacting to everything other people do.  When I do that I don't give them the respect, courtesy, or compassion that can result only from deep contemplation.  So I need to carve out times of solitude for myself so that I can come to understand people better and not be so reactionary when the speak or act.

Every person on this planet is deserving of my gentleness as they go through their lives making mistakes and hurting themselves and others.  When I can see them for what they are, then I can practice compassion; until then, though, my gentleness will not be seen as I react to their words or actions rather than to their presence as fellow spirits on a difficult journey in a beautiful but trying world.

Questions to consider:

How do you see other people?  How do you react to jerks?

How might we learn to be more tolerant and understanding of other people's mistakes, even when those mistakes affect us?

How often do you give yourself the gift of silence and solitude?

For further thought:

The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves "inside the skin" of the other.  We "go inside" their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering.  Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering.  We must become one with the subject of our observation.  When we are in contact with another's suffering,  a feeling of compassion is born in us.
Compassion means, literally, "to suffer with."

Thich Nhat Hanh

more thoughts and ideas on solitude
more thoughts and ideas on compassion



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