“A central question confronting spiritual life today is how we can best respond to the tremendous conflicts and uncertainties of these times. The war on terror, the seemingly intractable violence of the Middle East, poverty and disease, racism, the degradation of the environment, and the problems in our own personal lives, all call us to ask: What is the source of this great mass of suffering? What are the forces in the world that drive intolerance, violence and injustice? Is it possible to hold differences of view in a larger context of unity rather than in conflict and hostility?

For instance religious views; rather than take religious views and teachings to be ultimate statements of absolute truth, they might be better understood as skillful means to liberate the mind. Instead of pitting one view against another, we might let go of rigid attachment to any view, and ask the very pragmatic question, “Is this teaching leading my heart and mind to greater wisdom and peace, to greater kindness and compassion? Or does it lead to more divisiveness, to more selfishness, to more violence?”



Mindfulness is the quality and power of mind that is aware of what’s happening—without judgment and without interference. It is like a mirror that simply reflects whatever comes before it. It serves us in the humblest ways, keeping us connected. We can start the practice of mindfulness meditation with the simple observation and feeling of each breath. Breathing in, we know we’re breathing in; breathing out, we know we’re breathing out. It’s very simple, although not easy. After just a few breaths, we hop on trains of association, getting lost in plans, memories, judgments and fantasies. This habit of a wandering mind is very strong, even though our reveries are often not pleasant and sometimes not even true. As Mark Twain so aptly put it, “Some of the worst things in my life never happened.”


 So we need to train our minds, coming back again and again to the breath, simply beginning again. Slowly, though, our minds steady and we begin to experience some space of inner calm and peace. This environment of inner stillness makes possible a deeper investigation of our thoughts and emotions. Notice the difference between being lost in a thought and being mindful that we’re thinking. Becoming aware of the thought is like waking up from a dream or coming out of a movie theater after being absorbed in the story. Through mindfulness, we gradually awaken from the movies of our minds. 


What, too, is the nature of emotions—those powerful energies that sweep over our bodies and minds like great breaking waves? In a surprising way, mindfulness and the investigation of emotions begin to deepen our understanding of selflessness; we see that the emotions themselves arise out of conditions and pass away as the conditions change. 

The wisdom of understanding selflessness finds expression in compassion. We might say that compassion is the activity of emptiness (of oneself). Compassion arises both on the personal level of our individual relationships and on the global level of great cultures and civilizations interacting with one another.

How do we find compassion in the middle of storms of anger, hatred, ill will or fear?
Most importantly, we need to acknowledge that these feelings are arising. In this regard, it is mindfulness that can bring the gift of compassion, both for ourselves and others. Through mindfulness, our hearts become spacious enough to hold the painful emotions, to feel the suffering of them, and to let them go. But it takes practice to open to the difficult emotions that we’re aware of and to illuminate those that are hidden. We often live in denial. It’s not always easy to open to our shadow side.  And even when we are aware (of our “shadow side”), we can get caught in justifying these feelings to ourselves: “I should hate these people—look at what they did.” From justifying these feelings of hatred and emnity (which is quite different than being mindful of them), there can come a strong feeling of self-righteousness. We forget that the feelings and emotions we have are all conditioned responses, arising out of the particular conditions of our lives. Other people in the same situation might feel very different things. Although at times it may be hard to believe, our feelings are not necessarily the reflection of some ultimate truth. Self-righteousness about our feelings and view is the shadow side of commitment. We sometimes confuse this self-justification with the feeling of passionate dedication. Feelings of hatred, emnity, fear, self-righteousness, greed, envy and jealousy all do arise at different times. Our challenge is to see them all with mindfulness, understanding that these states themselves are the cause of suffering and that no action we take based on them will lead to our desired result—peace in ourselves and peace in the world.”

Snippets from a good article called:

Mindfulness, Compassion, & Wisdom, Three Means To Peace

By 

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