Awaken every being in the Universe realizing there is only one consciousness…
To awaken one’s true self one must awaken all beings.
There are innumerable sentient beings in the world.
I vow to help them all awaken.
My imperfections are exhaustible.
I vow to overcome them all.
The Dharma is unknowable.
I vow to know it.
The way of awakening is unattainable.
I vow to attain it.
Kwan Yin is who I often find sanctuary in. At times, it seems I am nothing like her, the Divine Mother, because my anger is fierce and my shadow side tends towards deep abyss. This is where the torture of comparison lies. The truth is, I AM her and she is me. I have great compassion for this World and ALL in it, as well as anger and pain. I pray the bodhisattva prayer often. And on the days when connection and helping others is the last thing I want to do because I am feeling unworthy, overwhelmed or alone, I make a choice to physically connect. Usually, these are the days I want to stay home and hide under the covers but I force myself to nurture me, take care of myself and then go out and CONNECT. In the connection, I am both healing and being healed.
Today was one of those days.
To force myself to connect, I drove myself to a local bookstore. When I arrived, I decided to first grab a coffee at the café inside. As I waited in line, I took notice of the scene around me: the one-person staffed barista who was visibly frazzled at drink orders piling up, the line behind me growing to five people deep, and the three people ahead of me waiting for their drink orders to be filled as they had already paid. I brought my scope in a little tighter and then I noticed the young man waiting directly in front of me. The man was in his mid-to-late 20's and was wearing a chef’s uniform looking deflated and distracted. I caught his eye and smiled. He smiled back and then smiled at little Anouk riding in a sling on my hip. I then asked if he was on his way to work and this ice-breaker question was just the connection that was needed…for us both.
See, people NEED connection. Healthy connection is healing. In conversing with the young chef waiting for his coffee, distracted with the thoughts of what a long day of work laid ahead of him, we were able to chat and recognize one another and acknowledge that we saw each other in life. We were WITNESSING each other’s lives. Life isn’t easy but it also isn’t all horrible. I have often thought that life is both wonderful and horrible and it’s all tied up in a ribbon called ALIVE. This warmth and aliveness is vital for us. It’s also contagious. Our connection invited those around us to start connecting as well. The barista calmed as he saw no one was angry for being made to wait, and when everyone had a drink in hand, we all singly broke off from the small group that had formed and wished each person a better day than when we came in. Everyone felt seen, recognized, heard and appreciated.
Once I had my drink in hand, I headed off to the section of tarot cards, meditative practices and UFO/extraterrestrial encounters. Sitting on the carpeted aisle floor was a young teenage girl mumbling to herself, surrounded by a number of books. She looked up at me and asked if she was in my way. I told her she wasn’t but that I was curious as to what books were lying around her. She immediately stood up and explained she was reading about extraterrestrial encounters. She then stopped and said, “What do you think of encounters like this?” This young woman was alive with seeking knowledge and stories, and here we were in the middle of a busy bookstore on a rainy Autumn Saturday afternoon engaging with one another, neither of us caring that we were nowhere near close in age, but instead relishing in conversation that had depth and a factor of possibility. There was only deep respect and no judgment. We bantered back and forth on talk of extraterrestrial, Lemuria, Atlantis, Collective Consciousness and eventually we talked about the difference in our diets, she following a Vegan diet and me following a Ketogenic diet. As we talked, I almost forgot that I had never met her before, I forgot how old she was, and I honestly forgot we were in the bookstore. My present moment was enveloped in conversation with this young girl. Even little Anouk, sitting on my hip, was quiet as she listened, sitting right at the perfect place to catch every word. The young girl’s mother approached and we were both brought back to the awareness of our surroundings. As we took leave of one another, we both blessed one another. My literal words to her were, “Good luck and many blessings with the rest of your life.” She smiled a genuine smile and said, “You too. And to your baby.”
Encounters like these are REAL. The real takes us to a place of depth, of curiosity, of respect. These moments help us to evolve and BE our best selves. Our connections in these valuable moments are what make life WORTH living. It’s substance.
If you ever have a day where you are feeling low, CONNECT. Even if you don’t feel like doing it, DO IT. I am usually the one to engage others first because waiting for another to do so usually means you miss an opportunity. I do it EVERYWHERE I go. Years ago, riding a train through the countryside of Italy, I sparked a broken English conversation about a drawing one little girl was sketching and it enveloped her whole family into our conversation, and by the time we arrived at their train stop I was invited to come home with them for the night and eat dinner and drink wine. In my many flying adventures through the World, I have met the most interesting people in those tiny confined spaces. You literally have nowhere else to go and yet most people never even say "hello" to one another. The stories you hear and the people you connect with are better than any fictional story you could ever read, and I usually walk away with an email address, a phone number or at the very least a hug. We are all one with one another and when we witness each other’s lives we begin to heal ourselves and in turn the World.
*The photo is a large head of Guanyin on display at the Art Museum of Pittsburgh. It was once a part of a full statue of Guanyin, a bodhisattva or Buddhist deity who has attained enlightenment but has chosen to stay in this world as a disciple to aid the needy. Sculptures like this one were often grouped together in temples or stood alone and outdoors at pilgrimage sites. The considerable size of this head suggests an exterior location. By this date (1279-1368, Yuan Dynasty), most of the Chinese representations of Guanyin were female, and this statue is sculpted with the coiffure of an aristocratic Chinese woman. Originally a bright covering of polychrome paint enlivened this figure, yet her solemn, contemplative gaze and downcast eyes underscored her divinity.*