Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu. Gentle is the one who does ‘not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick.’ Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let’s dress ourselves with gentleness.
Nothing in this human realm is meant to work. So once you can deeply appreciate that- the mind of compassion grows if you understand that everybody’s up against it. I remember reading some works of Simone Veil, a French woman who lived in France during the war and she said there’s only one question worth asking anybody and that question is, “What are you going through?”
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid.
Mindfulness practice isn’t meant to eliminate thinking but aims rather to help us know what we’re thinking when we’re thinking it, just as we want to know what we’re feeling when we’re feeling it….Meditation is like going into an old attic room and turning on the light. In that light we see everything — the beautiful treasures we’re grateful to have unearthed; the dusty, neglected corners that inspire us to say, “I’d better clean that up”; the unfortunate relics of the past that we thought we had gotten rid of years ago. We acknowledge them all, with an open, spacious, and loving awareness.
It’s never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it’s been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held the old view.
Sharon Salzberg, Mindfulness and Difficult Emotions
The Buddha takes something like suffering, (dukkha), and says it’s a Noble Truth. This was an astounding thing to be doing because humans think that suffering is a nasty fact of life, and we want to get rid of it. So we’re always running around trying to find happiness and security in the things that are always changing, and of course we end up suffering more. So just changing the attitude towards suffering is what the Buddha did. Not to get rid of it or blame it on anybody, but to recognize it. Then you’re no longer looking at suffering from aversion and wanting to get rid of it or blaming it on somebody else, but seeing what it actually is in the present moment: formations arising and ceasing. That’s brilliant!