I was lucky enough to watch the Dali Lama give a talk about this very subject last night. I wish that I could have not been as distracted as I was so that I could have allowed his words to sink in more. I got home from work late and then there was a domestic situation that I had to deal with...all of which meant that I arrived to the talk late and distracted. I still had parenting responsibilities to attend to so I was not able to devote my full attention.
Still...he was amazing. His laugh is one of the best things I have ever heard. And he almost always was laughing at himself...good reminder.
I will not say what he said because I am not sure. I can only report what his words said to me. What I heard. What I felt. What I learned.
I was reminded with his talk about how much our home life has to do with our moral fiber. How much I as a mother am given the mantle to instill hope in my kids. I don’t do this by telling them to have hope, or even being particularly hopeful. No, I do this by loving them, showing up for them and being a good example of a person who is centered, balanced and loving.
Parents are the building blocks for raising people who are hopeful. Our children are the seeds but we are in charge of how much sunshine, rain and the condition of the soil. Seems like a lot because it is. Pay attention.
What I heard is that this parenting relationship is the place where we provide our children their ability to hope, or not. We mothers and fathers are responsible for showing kids how to persevere. We are the ones that need to teach. But how can we do that if we never were taught, or refused to learn ourselves? I think His Holiness attempted to point out to us last night that we all must deal with our demons and all that we lack, so that we can do a better job than the parents before us. That we can do everything we can to correct the errors of the past and move forward. And for each of us, it begins with our parenting.
I think he started with family as the most discrete unit and then extrapolated that out to the communities we live within and then on to the 7.2 billion other people, plants, and animals we share the earth with...we begin at home, so that we can take it out to the greater community and spread seeds of hope to those who might not have been so fortunate. Who were perhaps never given hope, had parents that were not capable of fostering and growing hope. It is our job as citizens to be willing to give it to all around us and we do that through compassion.
Next he appeared to depart from his trajectory by discussing our enemies. But in fact, this just deepened his message for me. If we examine how we feel and behave with our enemy, we learn things. So we are to pay close attention to what we say, how we react, how we feel and what we do with our enemies. The people who challenge us are our greatest teachers. Our shenpas (meaning attachment or a place where we get either hooked or stuck) this is the lesson ground for us. We can see how other’s conduct or mere existence, causes us to behave in a habitual manner. And if we pay attention to how them being them causes us to morph into someone we don’t really like all that much, or is relegated to a habitual course, we can elevate ourselves and find compassionate joy in something we used to find hard, aversive and painful.
He also mentioned that anger is not useful. Anger breaks connection. Anger kills the compassion. Yep, every. single. time. This hit home so hard. I have wasted so much time being angry over things, all in this mad effort to control and instead of growing or being useful to myself or anyone else, I just killed opportunity after opportunity to understand, to love, to be kind, to practice compassionate living. Dammit.
And finally, he suggested that above religion and factions and cultures and countries and race and the differences of us all that we all share humanness. And if we can go there with each other, two souls with blood coursing through out veins, we can relate to each other and that perhaps this might be the whole point. To see the other 7.2 billion people on the planet as being just like us while being completely different. First, we are human and then we are all the other things that we fight about, kill each other over and misunderstand and call that living.
So apparently creating hope is a process. Creating hope means that we start at home, under our own roofs, we pay attention to how we parent and then make adjustments. Then we consider how what we learned, or didn’t, affects our ability to participate in our community. We are mindful of anger and how it poisons our own well. We use our enemies as teacher to guide us toward a better understanding of ourselves and then we take that information and bring it all back to the unalterable conclusion that we are all human.
Hope just might be the cycle that keeps us all going and if we are flagging, perhaps it is because we got lost along the way. And perhaps, just maybe if we feel lost we can reach out to others who have the hope and ask for some. And if we have the hope, we can look for those struggling and offer it to them for fun and for free. Leaving our gift of hope free of judgment and condemnation regarding how the person lost hope to begin with...we just show up and provide the hope. No questions asked.
We bring the light, not judge for the darkness. We attempt to understand and if we can’t understand, we try to learn. And if we can’t learn, we ask ourselves why we can’t learn. And then we try to find some way in our hearts to love anyway.
This is the course of my life. I am here, every day all the time. Trying to create hope. For me. For you. For others. For my children. For the planet. I want this so that I can share it not just clutch it tightly to my chest to keep for myself. I want to create hope and then share it. That is what hope is for, to be shed down upon all of those around us, in our homes, communities, states, nations and toward the brother and sisterhood of all mankind, even those we very much dislike. Those we dislike have the best perspective to show us where we need to grown, change and stretch in the direction of goodness and light.
We are all responsible for creating hope. Every minute of every day. Forever. It is our greatest gift to each other, for each other and for ourselves. The world depends upon us to do our part. And we can always do a little better. Day by day and moment by moment.
And so that this most awesome task doesn’t grind us to a bloody pulp, His Holiness showed us how to laugh at our own ridiculousness. How to laugh when we fall short. How to find humor in all of the ways our humanness interferes with our ability to create hope. And, at least for me, he showed me last night that I should and could remember to smile and laugh while I am fucking it up. Because if I want to build connection, anger has no place. Anger kills connection, always. So I must release it first within myself and then towards myself and then to laugh in anger’s face.
And that my friends is enlightenment to me. Laughing in the face of anger, resentment and fear and loving through it anyway. All while finding bemusement within our own hearts for our own humanness. It begins right there, if I let it.