Compassion for These We Envy


Icarus flies as well close to the sun.

This post marks the eighth
anniversary of starting this weblog. Thanks for reading!

might know that the story of how I come to have a book is occasionally as crucial
to me as the book itself. Cindy is portion of our extended loved ones, and every single
Christmas she offers me a couple of books that are acceptable to my interests. Offered
her restricted sources, she finds them in bargain book shops, gently utilized or
seemingly unread, slightly broken or merely undesirable.

year she gave me Thoughts on Virtue:
Thoughts and Reflections from History’s Excellent Thinkers
, Philip Larkin Collected Poems,
Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable (whose
cover boasts a handsome, hunky Icarus in midair), and the Dalai Lama’s An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in
Each day Life
. The latter’s only wound appears to have been water harm that
created the book’s jacket stick to the very first pages.
Dalai Lama is a favourite of mine, so that is the book I’ve been reading. As is
his wont, his teachings commence nearly as well merely prior to delving deep into the
murky waters of human nature, although he could argue with such a phrase
suggesting essence or identity that is unchanging.
I came across a description of contemplation that answers a lot of of its critics:
We have to know how to pace ourselves down to the
snail’s pace of profound contemplation though also making certain that we do not
overlook our neighbor’s trouble or that of the fish swimming in polluted oceans
a lot of thousands of miles away. [p54]
this basic way, he reminds us that, although concentrate is a present of a meditative way
of life, it is generally held in context with the larger image of a neighbor’s
have to have or our environment’s plight. His “snail’s pace” created me consider of a snail I
wrote of in the introduction to the third section of my book of prayers, Coming Out to God:
A snail stretched its complete length in a strenuous
assault, climbing the tall image window. Inside, these of us on retreat
discussed our vision of the future church. A sadness had slipped into some
hearts, as normally occurs the final day of a retreat. The typical objective,
camaraderie, and caring intimacy that are seasoned at such gatherings inevitably
lead 1 to wonder, Why cannot it generally be like this? Our visions of hope for
the church painfully reminded us of our place—or lack thereof—in the present
church, intensifying our letdown. Yes, we had been on the downhill side of our
mountaintop expertise. But the gradually ascending snail, apparently
unintimidated by the extended vertical climb, supplied hope for progress.  [p119]
reading a sacred text, a lot of of us know that meditating on a line or phrase or
believed that disturbs us might be as useful as reflecting on 1 that is pleasing.
And so I quickly identified my “disturbing” text in the Dalai Lama’s elaboration of
It is not challenging for us to create sympathy for
a youngster in the hospital or an acquaintance mourning the death of a spouse. We
have to start out to take into account how to retain our hearts open toward these we would
usually envy, these who get pleasure from fine lifestyles and wealth. [p105]
me, that is a hard 1! The Psalmist had no qualms complaining to God:
For I was envious of the arrogant
saw the prosperity of the wicked.
bodies are sound and sleek.
They are not in problems as other folks are
are not plagued like other persons. …
Consequently the persons turn and praise them,
uncover no fault in them. …
at ease, they enhance in riches.
All in vain I have kept my heart clean
washed my hands in innocence.
 [Psalm 73:3-5,
10, 12-13  NRSV]
Any person
who knows me knows also that I cannot precisely claim that I have generally “kept my
heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.” But nevertheless, without having impugning
them as “evil,” why do qualified athletes and performers, celebrities and
CEOs reside so nicely, though “do-gooders” scrape by?
point is, when I began writing this post, parenthetically referring to the
depiction of a attractive and handsome Icarus in the sky on the cover of
Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable, I hadn’t
but believed that this could be an illustration of maintaining “our hearts open
toward these we would usually envy.” The myth of Icarus is that he flew as well
close to the sun, melting the wax on the wings that held him in flight. Quite a few of
these we envy “fly as well close to the sun.”
the mighty have fallen,” cried David in a psalm of lament at the opening of two
Samuel upon hearing of the killings of Saul and his son Jonathan. David had
earlier resisted killing Saul when he identified him sleeping, in spite of the
humiliation, threats and attacks he had endured from him. The “ideal” king
showed compassion.
for these who do not endure such a comeuppance as Icarus or Saul, the Dalai Lama
believes we have to hold open our compassion for all who share the human
There is a specific irrationality in responding to
injustice or harm with hostility. Our hatred has no physical impact on our
enemies it does not harm them. Rather, it is we who endure the ill
consequences of such overwhelming bitterness. [p111]
each the mighty and meek endure might hold our hearts open for our sake if not
for theirs.

Thanks to Toby Schmidt, cover
designer of
Mythology: The Age of Fable, which
options the image of Icarus utilized above.

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Copyright © 2019 by Chris
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