“….sometimes heaven is just a new pair of glasses.”

In “Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy”, we read Anne Lamott: “Mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion are synonyms, and the approaches we might consider taking when facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves — our arrogance, greed, poverty, disease, prejudice.”

the bibliophile — Coimbatore, India

Elsewhere in the book, she writes:

Mercy means that we soften ever so slightly, so that we don’t have to condemn others for being total shits, although they may be that….As Father Ed Dowling said, sometimes heaven is just a new pair of glasses. When we put them on, we see the awful person, sometimes even ourselves, a bit more gently, and we are blessed in return.

During an OnBeing conversation (11th February 2021) with Krista Tippett, Alain de Botton remarks that “by “love” I mean a capacity to enter imaginatively into the minds of people with whom you don’t immediately agree, and to look for the more charitable explanations for behavior which doesn’t appeal to you and which could seem plain wrong….

We read about Sarada Ma in Swami Gambhirananda’s “Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi”: “Once a direct disciple of the Master was so offended with the conduct of a certain devotee that he requested the Mother not to allow him to get anywhere near her. But she replied, “If my son wallows in the dust or mud, it is I who have to wipe all the dirt from off his body and take him in my lap.”

Peace 🙂

“Condemn none….”

In excerpts from the journals that the sculptor Anne Truitt wrote over seven years (“Daybook: The Journal of an Artist”), we read (in an entry dated 16th August): “I have always been mystified by the speed with which people condemn one another. Feeling as righteous as Christ chastising the money-changers in the temple, they cast their fellows into the outer darkness of their disapproval. This seems to give them intense pleasure.”

In a 1959 conversation with the BBC, Bertrand Russell pointed out that “In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other. We have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way, and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”

Alain de Botton encourages us, in “The School of Life: An Emotional Education”, to recognize that “we have a duty” to ensure that our “interpretations of the lives of others” are “generous”.

In an illuminating 2010 essay (“Empathy with the Enemy”), the philosopher Roman Krznaric writes: “I suggest that we should approach empathy as the ultimate form of travel, a means of transporting ourselves into other lives in ways that can illuminate our own. There is no need to limit where we take our journeys. We must extend our empathetic imaginations not just to the dispossessed or disadvantaged, but also to those whose views and actions we might oppose or disdain, from wealthy bankers to bombastic politicians to racist work colleagues – even the sibling who broke a favourite toy. There are few better ways of bringing us face to face with our own prejudices, uncertainties and inconsistencies. That is how empathy can become both a moral guide and a basis for a philosophy of living. Socrates saw the path to the good life in the effort to “know thyself ”. The lesson of empathy is that we will only discover ourselves by stepping outside ourselves.”

Swami Vivekananda (“The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”) advises us: “Condemn none; if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.”

Peace 🙂

Silence: “communion with the cosmos”

In a 1955 Talk, J Krishnamurti asks (“As One Is: To Free the mind from all conditioning”): “What is listening?” He goes on:

I think it is important to go into it a little, if you do not mind. Do you really listen,or are you interpreting what is being said in terms ofyour own understanding? Are you capable of listening to anybody? Or is it that in the process of listening, various thoughts, opinions, arise so that your own knowledge and experience intervene between what is being said and your comprehension of it?

In one of his journal notes, (“Commentaries on Living: First Series“), he continues: “To listen there must be an inward quietness.”

Sylvia Boorstein writes about this “inward quietness” in “That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being A Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist”. Being silent, she observes is about “receiving in a balanced, noncombative way what is happening.”

Cultivating such silence, Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer in the MIT Management Sloan School, writes (in “Education is the kindling of a flame: How to reinvent the 21st-century university”) makes us “blackbelt[s] in listening with our minds and hearts wide open”.

Photo by Luca Bravoon Unsplash

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes in “Creating True Peace” that “The secret of creating peace is that when you listen to another person you have only one purpose: to offer him an opportunity to empty his heart.”

Creating peace is possible when we listen with inner silence, we are gifted, as Alain de Botton writes (“The Course of Love”), with the “capacity not to be thrown off course by, or buckle under the weight of, information that may deeply challenge certain settled assumptions.”

Ultimately, as Paul Goodman writes (“Speaking and Language: Defence of Poetry”), silence is a “communion with the cosmos”  — leading to the Love that provides Light 

Peace 🙂