I wanted to share what I read in classes yesterday on 9/11 to give my students something to take with them and hopefully provide some contemplation and peace in whatever it is they are feeling.
These are summaries and excerpts from Chapter 14 in When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. I will highlight her exact words in bold.
When we allow ourselves to be with, instead of avoiding pain, there is a soft and tender part of that process and experience that points to something we all share in a common. When pain touches us and softens us (whether it is ours or someone else’s) it can be turned into profound compassion. This tender spot can be called the Genuine Heart of Sadness or Bodhichitta, our Noble Heart.
Pema talks about this heart like a jewel that has been formed and buried in the earth for millions of years. Despite what surrounds it, it remains beautiful, unmarred, intact. She goes on to say: In difficult times, it is only bodhichitta that heals. When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel read to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself. This is the time to touch the genuine heart of bodhichitta.
She finishes the chapter : In the process of discovering bodhichitta, the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We jump into it. We slide into it. We tiptoe into it. We move toward it however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.