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Tag Archives: loving kindness

Being Alive

I originally wrote this on Bowen Island, attending an Art of Hosting retreat. It reminded me of the counter cultural nature of Parker Palmer’s writing and events focused on his work. It is about communicating and seeing others as fully human.

In today’s divided world, this seems countercultural. An essential element to hosting and dialogue is listening to others in respectful ways. It does not mean we agree with them. What it means is we are open and listen to hear how they experience living their life, guided by one’s conscience and sense of values that ground us. Values give each of us strength, anchoring us and letting us understand what is proper and improper.

When we invite people into conversation, listen deeply, and ask questions which shake our certainty about the world we turn inward and focus on what grounds us to respond to them and help heal a hurting world.

Perching pensively–

Holding pen tentatively;

Senses coming,

In the midst of nature’s beauty.


Becoming aware;

Listening deeply;

In the midst of sounds flowing.

Breeze caressing gently–

Sunlight bathing softly;

Basking in these moments,

Resting in peace.

A colleague took this picture of me on top of Cates Hill on Bowen Island as I wrote and they were gracious enough to share it with me. It is spectacular with water and land in the panoramic view.

Bodhisattva Prayer for Humanity

In my post one step, then another, I concluded with The Prayer of St. Francis, which is a significant part of my life and of my family.

Recently, I came across this prayer and understand the Dalai Lama recites it daily. I found several links between the two prayers. I serve as a guide, bridge between the our lives and those in need. There are many metaphors in this prayer for me to take the shape of as I move through the world. Even if I cannot reach others physically, perhaps I can be a lamp from a distance as to help guide them in a moment of darkness.

Perhaps it is only in a kind word and acknowledging of the other who is present as we pass each other in a store. Kindness can be in short supply and in moments such as the one we are presently in a smile and greeting may make all the difference.

As I watched the news last night, they interviewed people who were setting up local help initiatives for seniors, donating food that might go to waste from a restaurant, and setting up a small food bank on the walk in front of their house. It is in moments such as this we become a lamp in darkness, a vase of plenty, and a tree of miracles.

Too often, we think (over-think) that miracles happen out there with some divine impulse. Maybe it is in the ordinary we discover the extraordinary.

“May I be a guard for those who need protection
A guide for those on the path
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood
May I be a lamp in the darkness
A resting place for the weary
A healing medicine for all who are sick
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings
May I bring sustenance and awakening
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow
And all are awakened.”

The other day, I heard Lean on Me by Bill Withers. It has this prayer’s message. Withers wrote the song as a call to others to lean on one another during challenging times. This form of love is agape, a love of one another as human beings, as opposed to a romantic love per se. But, romantic love that survives to become a pragmatic love (from the Greek pragma) takes on the agape more than romantic with time and seasoning.

What Can I Do?

I posted What Can I Do on December 12, 2012 as a response to the Sandy Hook school shootings.

Several weeks ago, Kathy asked if I Google myself. I replied I had, but there was not a lot. I told her I thought there was maybe a page related to Teacher as Transformer, my Twitter account, Facebook, presentations I made, etc.

Kathy Googled me and found a link to Amazon. It was a book review for a poetry anthology published by Silver Birch Press.

I have poems in the anthology. The review included Barbara Mojica‘s comments: One of my favorites is “What Can I Do” by Ivon Prefontaine. Here are a few lines: Change begins in me./I am a catalyst/I look inside:/Call forth a gentle spirit-/Give it voice.

As I explore mindfulness in daily life, I thought this was an example of two related phenomena. First, as a writer and teacher, I do not know how my words and actions might transcend time and place. Second, as a result, there is a demand on me to be mindful of how I speak and act.

Here is the text of the poem and below is a video with a reading and more context to the poem.

On a sombre day–

Grief and sorrow the order,

Message heard:

Change begins in me.

I am a catalyst

Look inside:

Summon forth a gentle spirit–

Let it speak.

In light, love happens–


Reaches out its hand

Beckon others to join.

Rings on clear pond,

Ripples of love touch,

Love cascades forth,

Good people meet.

Good touches good,

Prayer meets prayer,

Love conquers hate

Join together.

Good people summoned–

Their tears catalyze,

Grieve and heal as one.

Be Kind Whenever Possible

In the midst of living life, be KIND. If life is one of success, be kind and show others the way. If there is joy, lift others up and be kind. If there is a setback, be kind. This moment sha…

Source: Be Kind Whenever Possible

The post linked provides a short list of what benefits we accrue when we are kind and two quotes that support the personal need to be kind. As challenging as it is sometimes, being kind is essential to our personal well-being. We feel better when we are kind to others. When we smile, we share what is good in our life with them and acknowledge them as a person.

The Dalai Lama said to be kind when it is possible and it is always possible. Kahlil Gibran counselled kindness is a manifestation of strength and resolve. When we are kind to others, we are mindful and present to them and their needs in that moment and act towards them in an uplifting manner.


Naming Values

I posted several times about the need to name values. I think this is important at the personal and collective levels. The word value shares the same root as the French word valoir which connects to such words as valour and valiant. Values give us strength and courage so we can act in a meaningful, purposeful, and courageous manner.Values anchor us our lives. We are not simply adrift on the sea losing sight of the horizon.

I think naming values, as nouns, brings them to life differently than saying something like, “I value” which monetizes the value as if it were currency. Naming a value allows me to hold the value. Although I do not think values are fluid in the sense they change definitions, certain values are important at times and others at other times in life. In this regard, it is important to not only name the values, but to return to them from time to time and tend to them like a gardener would to their flower bed.

Some values I will name and explain connect to others either in creating a balance or without the other they would not be fully understood.

Compassion – Buddhists refer to this as loving/kindness and it begins with one’s self. Compassion and its close cousin patience allows me to make mistakes or to be distracted and gently return my self to the moment. It balances the passion I have for certain things in my life. Without compassion the flame burns hot and is quickly extinguished.

Respect is the honouring of one’s truths and respecting the truth of others. Truth comes from the word troth and happens in relationship. Mindful listening and speaking are essential to respect. It is more than nodding one’s head and turning away.

Community is living with another, sharing what is common and important – the named values – and lifting each other up in difficult times. Mindful listening and speaking play a critical role. The functional community, one with purpose, is able to recognize its moments of dysfunction and communicate effectively. Within community, there is an honouring and respecting of the diversity and autonomy of each other.

Responsibility allows one to respond mindfully. I am responsible for my words and actions. Living in community calls on its members to be responsible or the community cannot survive. I think autonomy and responsibility are companions. Autonomy is the freedom to choose, but not at the expense of others. I set aside self-interest as I mindfully attend to the truths of others.

Wisdom is that which is shared and passed on from generation to generation. It allows the community to act prudently while expanding. Wisdom in this way is a common sense held by the community and learned by each ensuing generation. Carefully and attentively, we choose those things which apply and add as necessary.

Open-mindedness is in part the honouring of truths. Curiosity and the concept of beginner’s mind play a critical role. I step away from my expert’s role with predetermined solutions and replace it with the beginner’s mind of mindful listening, mindful speaking, and right action. The possibilities are generously fueled by curiosity with a sometimes playful face.

Justice is the fairness and equity we find in the most functional of communities. Things are not always equal, but understanding the multiple truths within a community, respecting those truths, and working with a beginner’s mind allows justice to emerge. This is not relativism gone wild, but born out of wisdom, being responsible for words and actions, and being compassionate brings justice to the forefront.

This list is not exhaustive. For the moment, these are the values I choose and name as the most important.

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