Yes, they radiate the heart of love, compassion, courage, and conviction. They stand for “truth”. But what is this truth? Isn’t it a larger view of reality that goes beyond the limits of material imagination? Isn’t it an irreversible understanding of the way we are all inextricably linked to one another for better or for worse?
The following article was originally published in Joy Holland’s inspiring complimentary e-book Cultivating Your Voice in response to the question: “What would you consider is the source of your power?” I don’t consider myself a particularly “powerful” person. But the driving force in my life stems from a deeper reflection on the nature of reality, which is what I attempted to convey in this article.
These are heady thoughts in one sense. But if we actually take time to reflect on them, they can turn our world right-side up and infuse it with clarity, spaciousness, and kindness.
Wisdom and Compassion: The Source of True Power
Joy Holland: “What would you consider is the source of your power?”
The source of my “power” is my understanding of the nature of reality and the essence of mind. I place the word “power” in quotes to underline that this is not “my” power. This power doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s the natural energy and power of the universe. It’s the clarity of seeing reality as it is, which naturally empowers you.
What exactly is this understanding? The realization that everything that exists, whether on the material plane or within the realm of mind is empty of inherent exist. It’s neither permanent, singular, nor independent. Empty doesn’t mean void but rather full of potential and possibility as everything arises from and also recedes back into this empty, non-material state. This isn’t a nihilistic point of view nor is it eternalism, but the middle way. It is said: neither permanent nor non-existing.
The Fluid Nature of Reality
Emptiness is intimately connected with impermanence, which is another fundamental truth of reality. One that we often try to deny as we cling to what pleases and reject what displeases. But in reality, everything is changing not just on the gross level of one season turning into another or birth changing into death. On a sub-atomic level everything is constantly moving and changing as we speak. Nothing stays the same for a single moment.
It’s our inability to see and accept the fluid nature of reality that brings about suffering. Instead we abide by delusion, submerged in a constant play of hope and fear, acceptance and rejection, and seeing our self and the world as solid, permanent, and independent.
But if we actually take a moment to observe the world we can’t help miss the fact that everything is interdependent. Is there anything that can exist in its own right without the support of other factors? Everything actually comes about due to causes and conditions. Therefore, what we think, say, and do matters. It has an impact and an effect that is either positive, neutral, or harmful. Indeed, harming not only harms others. Ultimately, harming harms you whereas helping helps you.
Tuning into the true nature of reality as this ever-changing constant flow, helps us to learn to let go of all our preferences, expectations, and emotional drama, which are the very source of our suffering. We can enjoy life unfolding in each moment, while taking full responsibility for what we create by mindfully choosing our thoughts, words, and actions.
Letting Mind Be
How do you taste and cultivate this wide-awake sense of the world as a vibrant, energetic play?
The practice of meditation allows us to slow down, let thoughts and emotions settle, and observe precisely how it is mind itself that is the creator of suffering and happiness. By leaving mind unaltered and allowing thoughts, emotions, and perceptions to move through unimpeded, we begin to taste its open, spacious, empty yet cognizant quality – the innermost essence of mind.
Our heart naturally breaks open when we touch the true essence of mind, as we simultaneously see the needlessness of suffering. We sense the possibility of the cessation suffering for our self and others. Love, kindness, empathy, warmth, and compassion pour forth.
Though we may have powerful moments of insight, this view is not an understanding that occurs in one-fell swoop. Rather, for most of us, it needs to be nurtured with patience and joyful diligence. At the same time, the regular practice of meditation erodes away our lifetime of habitual thought patterns, allowing greater peace, spaciousness, and freedom to dawn.
Wisdom and Compassion
Wisdom – understanding reality as it is – and compassion – its offspring compassion – give rise to true “power” that is not contingent upon externals. Your genuine voice, authentic self, and strong center simultaneously emerge. You find a growing confidence and an unfailing refuge that you can return to again and again when doubts arise. You find a natural great peace that is beyond conception.
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein
How do these ideas touch your life? Do they hold meaning for you? Do they make a difference for you?