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Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

A Heart Wide Open

--by Joel and Michelle Levy (Dec 08, 2014)


"Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depth of their hearts where neither sin nor knowledge could reach, the core of reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the divine. If only they could see themselves as they really are, if only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no more need for war; for hatred, for greed, for cruelty. I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other."  - Father Thomas Merton, Epiphany at 4th and Walnut in Louisville, Kentucky

Can you remember a time (or times!) when you were really cracked open, and beheld the overwhelming beauty or suffering of the world around you? Can you remember how it felt to have your heart that wide open, your seeing that deep and clear, and what it felt to simply be present and alive in those moments?

In one of the later Superman movies, there's a touching scene where Superman takes Lois Lane way up into the sky, and asks her to listen. "Listen. Tell me what you hear," he tell Lois. Lois listens hard, and responds, "I don't hear anything. " Superman then replies, "I hear everything. All the cries for help from all the people in danger. I hear voices of countless voices of people calling for help."

In the Chinese tradition, Quan Yin is regarded as the embodiment of Universal Compassion. Her name literally means, "She who hears the cries of the world." In Asian cultures it is understood that Quan Yin is really a dimension or quality of our own innate compassionate presence, an innate quality of being that each of us can find within the depths of our own hearts - our most essential being. In Christianity this archetype of compassion may be related to as the Christ or Mother Mary, in Jewish tradition as the Shekina, the Divine Feminine immanent aspect of God residing within us as "in-dwelling Presence."

It takes courage to wake up, to open our wisdom eyes, look more deeply, see more clearly, and feel deeply into the subtle, complex, and profound interrelationships that weave the fabric of our lives and world.

To the fainthearted, it may superficially seem easier to live in denial, mindless of the intensity of beauty, joy, and wonder, numbed to the sorrow, suffering, and pain in our lives and world. Aloof and semi-disembodied, we distance ourselves from the raw, vivid, intensity, and intimacy of our feelings and our visceral responses to the suffering of the world within and around us. Such self-protective strategies keep us distanced from our heart, our feelings, our loved, ones, yet sooner or later, most of us get cracked open, one way or another, by the raw intensity of the nature of our lives and world.

If we are truly committed to embodying compassion, there is an opportunity for gratitude, wisdom, and dedication to come together at least three times a day in our busy lives. When is this? At times when we select and eat the foods that sustain our lives.

Joel & Michelle Levey are founders of WisdomAtWork.com and The International Center for Corporate Culture and Organizational Health at InnerWork Technologies, Inc., a Seattle-based firm dedicated to developing and renewing organizational cultures and communities in which extra-ordinary levels of inspired leadership, cooperation, synergy, collective intelligence, and change resilience can thrive. The Leveys work with organizations and communities around the globe to inspire people to deepen the wisdom, wonder, compassion, resilience, and creativity they bring to life, work, and relationships amidst the myriad changes, challenges, and opportunities of these turbulent and rapidly shifting times.

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11 Previous Reflections:

 
On Apr 15, 2015 Smithg79 wrote:

 



On Dec 9, 2014 Peter wrote:

 Thank you for this reflection today. My heart and mind opened wide one day while having breakfast with a friend in a a Minneapolis café. Suddenly an awareness came over me and almost literally swept me away---I saw the older couple sitting nearby and noticed the tension in their faces...the fear and stress I saw in what seemed to be this very clear seeing were simply unreal facades which we all have...and then I knew and could see somehow that beyond and within this sense of separateness and unease shown by thi couple (and by all of us) is an infinite love which is real beyond anything I'd ever known. This love was so spacious, filling everything, and vast like the blue sky. The whole experience lasted maybe 30 seconds, I don't really know, but changed me and launched a seeking which continues to this day in my ongoing living in my closing down and opening into, closing and opening...



1 reply: Emily | Post Your Reply
On Dec 9, 2014 Syd wrote:

My own personal suffering turned into mental chaos, which  has been so deep my disappointment with myself intensified into a consuming self-hared.  My own endless suffering made it impossible to face the worlds suffering and I even felt vulnerable and unsure experiencing other peoples' suffering.   Suffering walks beside disillusionment and then when life feels hopeless it creates suicidal panic attacks or it triggers off an addiction to escape the suffering.  So for me to stop running from my suffering by my addictions I have had to find serenity.  From this serene mind with faith this has created non-attachment.  Non-attachment appears to offer a compassion to suffering because there is no attachment to suffering.  There is no fear or this endless activity of the mind wanting an escape this identity.  There is something about non-attachment that offers fa  See full.

My own personal suffering turned into mental chaos, which  has been so deep my disappointment with myself intensified into a consuming self-hared.  My own endless suffering made it impossible to face the worlds suffering and I even felt vulnerable and unsure experiencing other peoples' suffering.   Suffering walks beside disillusionment and then when life feels hopeless it creates suicidal panic attacks or it triggers off an addiction to escape the suffering.  So for me to stop running from my suffering by my addictions I have had to find serenity.  From this serene mind with faith this has created non-attachment. 

Non-attachment appears to offer a compassion to suffering because there is no attachment to suffering.  There is no fear or this endless activity of the mind wanting an escape this identity.  There is something about non-attachment that offers faith within the void of suffering.  This non-attachment feels empty, yet it is quiet and is just watching.  Non-attachment appears to be faith and serenity together not based on my thoughts, not on my feelings, not on my body, nor my perceptions.  It seems everything arises and disappears into this stillness and peace, a compassionate giving, where suffering and chaos begin to dissolve. 

I am just beginning to touch this non-attachment to suffering, to chaos, and is a radical acceptance where serenity becomes faith and faith is serenity.  It is where there is no effort or striving.  Just this still point to suffering, letting go as faith and serenity becomes  compassionate.             

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1 reply: Amy | Post Your Reply
On Dec 8, 2014 Bhavana Pankaj wrote:

There is an elderly man I see every day on my morning walks who makes a living - I got to know the day I stopped to greet and speak to him - by making flattened balls of cow-dung for religious and domestic purposes. Our eyes would meet every day but something withheld us from venturing further. That day, I folded my hands and said namaskar to him. He responded in a way that took me by utter surprise. He told me he lived alone - he did not marry - and how his entire family had passed on; how with much difficulty he made two ends meet etc. And then he smiled a warm smile and blessed me with such heart that his earlier acerbic disposition (or so it appeared to me) just vanished. As I walked away, there was this one overriding feeling: people, mostly and essentially, need affection, attention, a kind word, a little time... just a little love. My heart only cracked a little more that day. And I wouldn't want to exchange this for any security. I don't know if this is courage. But I do know  See full.

There is an elderly man I see every day on my morning walks who makes a living - I got to know the day I stopped to greet and speak to him - by making flattened balls of cow-dung for religious and domestic purposes. Our eyes would meet every day but something withheld us from venturing further. That day, I folded my hands and said namaskar to him. He responded in a way that took me by utter surprise. He told me he lived alone - he did not marry - and how his entire family had passed on; how with much difficulty he made two ends meet etc. And then he smiled a warm smile and blessed me with such heart that his earlier acerbic disposition (or so it appeared to me) just vanished. As I walked away, there was this one overriding feeling: people, mostly and essentially, need affection, attention, a kind word, a little time... just a little love. My heart only cracked a little more that day. And I wouldn't want to exchange this for any security. I don't know if this is courage. But I do know that it is His love that I and each one of us has been trusted with - not to hold on to it, but give of it with a fullness - every time, as much as conditions allow.

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On Dec 8, 2014 Hmmmm wrote:

My my heart seems most sensitive (wide open) to God
I found this prayer that I thought everyone would like;

O Holy Spirit
Beloved of my soul,
I adore you
enlighten, guide strengthen 
and console me;
Tell me what I ought to say
and do and command me to do it.
I promise to be submissive in
everything You will ask of me
and to accept all that You
permit to happen to me,
only show me what is Your will
Amen



On Dec 8, 2014 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

A heart wide open means being 100% present to the experience, person and moment. It allows for deeper empathy & understanding of light and dark. I've experienced this many times because I live mostly in this state (it is simply how my heart is made, or at least I've always thought so). I think when we realize being open to all the suffering does not equal we have to fix everything this is freeing. The protection lies in this realization, being open does not mean fixing everything. I really believe that as long as we do our part; listen, become engaged in whatever passions we have, use our skills and talents to serve others (and in turn ourselves) there is much good that can be done and is being done. Here's to being open with our hearts and feeling all the feels. Hugs from my heart to yours!



1 reply: A | Post Your Reply
On Dec 7, 2014 david doane wrote:

If we could see ourselves as we really are, that we are one and we are sacred, there would be no need to for the hatred, greed, cruelty, and war in the world.  That is a beautiful statement from Thomas Merton.  We would respect and honor each other.  And we wouldn't have inconsideration, bullying, racism, poverty, starvation, pollution.  What a beautiful world it could be.  I've never had my heart so cracked open as to hear the cries for help of all people of the world.  I hear only a fraction of the cries, loud as they are.  I don't avoid distancing myself from the suffering of the world, abundant as it is.  To a great extent, I am distanced from my raw intense feelings and my visceral responses to the suffering of so many.  I am numbed to much of it.  My daily hearing about the suffering seems to result in my taking it for granted, being calloused to it, feeling powerless to do anything about it, and just living with it.  I gues  See full.

If we could see ourselves as we really are, that we are one and we are sacred, there would be no need to for the hatred, greed, cruelty, and war in the world.  That is a beautiful statement from Thomas Merton.  We would respect and honor each other.  And we wouldn't have inconsideration, bullying, racism, poverty, starvation, pollution.  What a beautiful world it could be.  I've never had my heart so cracked open as to hear the cries for help of all people of the world.  I hear only a fraction of the cries, loud as they are.  I don't avoid distancing myself from the suffering of the world, abundant as it is.  To a great extent, I am distanced from my raw intense feelings and my visceral responses to the suffering of so many.  I am numbed to much of it.  My daily hearing about the suffering seems to result in my taking it for granted, being calloused to it, feeling powerless to do anything about it, and just living with it.  I guess if I were to crack open and deeply hear the suffering, I might crack up, or at least feel overwhelmed by it, so to protect myself or have the illusion of protecting myself I don't open wide my heart.  Sad, but true. 

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1 reply: Lfm | Post Your Reply