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.”
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.”
A few days before Sarada Ma passed on, a lady came to visit her. Seeing the Mother ailing, the lady was distressed and wept. The Mother’s words (“Sri Sarada Devi and Her Divine Play”) to the lady were Her last recorded words.
“Learn to make the world your own. No one is a stranger, my child; the whole world is your own.”
There is no proviso here — No one is a stranger. The whole world is your own. Every person, every being, every thing — is our own, Every person, every being, every thing is family.
i have not come across any higher Teaching than this — both as a guide to living, and as a means of communion with the Divine.
Chapter 6 of the “Maha Upanishad” (a text that was composed probably as early as 300 BC) has a conversation between a young person, Nigadha, and a sage, Ribhu — an incredibly deep conversation (translated by A. G. Krishna Warrier) that covers the nature of reality, the ultimate truths, and how to live. In Verses 71 and 72, we read the following: “Only small men discriminate saying: One is a relative; the other is a stranger…..the entire world constitutes but a family…”
One of the haikus of the 18th century Japanese Buddhist Issa reads (in “The Spring of My Life: And Selected Haiku” translated by Sam Hamill):
“In cherry blossom
shadows, no one,
a stranger now”
Towards the end of a sermon titled“On Being a Good Neighbor“, that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote and revised many times between 1962-63, we find him saying: “As you leave this place of worship my friends go out with the conviction that all men are brothers, tied in a single garment of destiny.”
Each person, every sentient being is family; every thing is family….the boundary of our home is the edge of the Cosmos. Let us live by this.