In the sixties I spent a lot of time working with human rights. In the early years, I was sometimes more motivated by fear and saw some of the painful results of that ego at work. I remember a sit-in at a small Southern lunch counter. We were two North­ern students, so young and so self-righteous. We had no idea

what those in the town were thinking and feeling, and we did not want to know. We only wanted to express our viewpoint and righteousness. We wanted to change them.

We came into the lunchroom and sat at the counter, facing the glares of those sitting around us. The cook just looked at us and asked what we wanted. “Coke, milkshake, doughnut” came our replies. We were feeling smug; was it really this easy? He gathered some items and carried them to the counter. I remem­ber how he approached me with my doughnut and the large glass of Coke, sweat-covered from its icy contents. I looked at the glass with pleasure since the day was hot. He reached out with the glass, and with no hesitation poured it over my head. While I sat there in shock, he crumbled the doughnut over me too. The second counterman did. the same to my partner. Then he nodded, and others at the counter simply picked us up, two young women, one white and one black, carried us out the door, dumped us on the curb, and locked the door behind us.

In those early days, I totally lacked compassion for this opposition. They were wrong and I was right; it was that simple. I had no ability to be present with their pain nor to hear them. I had no ability to be present with my own fear nor hear myself.

 

Years passed and I did learn. It was a tough learning, a fruit of many tears and bruises, of much pain and confusion. But slowly, I did learn the power of compassion and presence. No one incident was my primary teacher, but I do remember a few hours in a small jail. One of my cell partners was an older, Southern black woman, large of body and with soft, deep eyes. She wore a black dress covered with red roses and a tiny hat still adorned her head. I was angry at what had happened that par­ticular day, an incident not too different from the one above. I was expressing that anger, muttering, pacing the cell. After about an hour she walked up to me so sweetly and in a kind voice invited me to sit down. “Aren’t you angry too?” I asked her. “Yes,” she replied, “but I also love them, sweetheart, and they are so afraid.” She hugged me gently as I wept. She taught me with those simple words that anger and compassion were not mutually exclusive. It was the first time my eyes really opened to what was happening around me, and from this sister, whose name I never even knew, I began to learn the power of love.

 

–Barbera Brodsky

 

 

“When we are looking through our magical glasses, we can learn to realize that there is only energy in a primordial form. But the full leap in consciousness occurs when we realize that the one who is looking through the glasses, and indeed the glasses themselves, are the same as what is being seen – it is all energy, or all love; the subject is identical with the object. We realize that there is no separation between what is being seen and the ‘who’ that is seeing. This is the ultimate and deepest meaning of Presence.

        At first we may think that we ‘experience’ Presence, but that is a dualistic mindset that will eventually be transcended. One may say: ‘I had a wonderful experience today; I experienced Presence!’ However the statement betrays the fact that the speaker is using dualistic language – there is a subject, ‘I,’ and an object, ‘Presence.’ This is a deluded experience. The student has missed the point. When we fully realize the all-consuming nature of Presence, we release our sense of self and all of its encumbrances. This is the point of liberation: there is only Presence, the oneness. Thus, the actual experience might be stated, ‘Presence is all there is,’ or, ‘This is it’.”

 

– David A. Cooper (Ecstatic Kabbalah)

 

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