Sunday Sermon


Sometimes, you don't feel what you think you should be feeling. You should be concerned, but you just can't seem to care, or you should be happy but you find that you're apathetic instead. It's particularly prevalent among the Flock when finals roll around - you expect to feel like you've accomplished something when a class or even a degree is completed, but in the back of your mind you know that all you've done is create more work for the future. (If you doubt this, check with those who graduated last year...)

Whenever I think I should be feeling something that I'm not, I am left with a vague sense that there is something wrong with me. It is yet another opportunity to doubt myself, to second guess this moment. "If I were a good Buddhist," I say to myself, "I'd let this feeling be, and move on." Self-doubt turns to self-reproach, and the real reason for the disconnect between your feelings and your expectations about your feelings is never explored.

As usual, stepping back and seeking a broader view is helpful. For example, in a certain situation in my life right now I'm not feeling as compassionate as I'd like. Rather than chastising myself for being cold-hearted (which I've done plenty of...) I should be relaxing my grip on the feelings. Stepping back from the feelings, I can just let them exist without making any decisions regarding them. By accepting that I feel the way I do without judgment, I can get past any feelings of disappointment in myself and possibly see the reasons behind the feelings. In this particular case, I have realized that I am not feeling compassionate because I am holding on to expectations of others. I have projected my beliefs and ethos onto others, so when they do something I wouldn't do, I'm upset. (That's right - I'm responsible for my own discomfort. Again.)

Once that trail of mental interactions became visible to me, I was able to look at the real issue - accepting these others as they are. Even though I am still cross with them, I can work on loving them just as they are. As I've pointed out here before, love is the guide. In order to love others as they are, you have to first accept and love yourself. Once I begin to accept my feelings (uncharitable as they sometimes are) I can begin to accept the actions of others (regardless of how lame I think they might be). I can be angry and still be compassionate; an improvement for everyone involved.

Acceptance is the atomic bomb of compassion. Hostile feelings are melted by it, apathy is eradicated by it, and love cannot help but be the fallout.

Go in Peace.


Raksha said...

Well, babe, I was with you right up until the end. For you, acceptance may indeed be the atomic bomb of compassion, but that's not how it works out for me. I can accept things completely and still feel incredibly hostile or overwhelmingly apathetic, and more often than not seething hatred, rather than love, is the result.

But not to make this all about me: I'm glad you've started to work through your feelings on this situation. It's a tough spot and it's probably a much more helpful way to approach it for everyone involved.

His Sinfulness said...

I might argue that we don't mean the same thing when we say "acceptance" but that is a topic for another sermon. :)

Clayton said...

I accept your view is that. Seriously, these words could be a tension breaker.

Clayton said...

I meant the literal words "I accept that this is your view" can ease tension and create understanding for the self.

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