“Close both eyes; see with the other one. Then we are no longer saddled by the burden of our persistent judgments, our ceaseless withholding, our constant exclusion. Our sphere has widened, and we find ourselves, quite unexpectedly in a new, expansive location, in a place of endless acceptance and infinite love. We’ve wandered into God’s own jurisdiction.” — Father Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart; The Power of Boundless Compassion
I have read this quote for retreats and sermons and just for my own pleasure many times over the last few years. I have always read it from the position of me looking at others; strangers, neighbors, family, people I disagree with, fear, and am totally mystified by, and everyone else. I recently read it during the opening meditation of a Saturday Morning Retreat, suggesting that people hear it from the position of looking at themselves. I invited them to be the object of this other way of seeing and perceiving that is expansive, accepting, and infinitely loving. I hadn’t actually intended to do that at all. Standing there looking at these dear people I cared about, I was struck by that assumption that this was about how I perceive others and how humbling it was to turn it inside out, shining a light on how saddled I felt by the burden of my persistent judgments, ceaseless withholding, and constant exclusion of myself. I felt a big lump in my throat, like when a dear friend lovingly tells me how I hurt their feelings. That’s what it felt like in my gut as I stood there barefoot in my yoga pants reading this quote to a group of people lying on their backs with their eyes closed. I had a real desire to hug me inside-out and say Oh, my goodness – I’m so sorry. I did not meant to do that. That is not at all how I want you to ever feel. Thank You so much for telling me. Experiencing such boundless compassion, love, and acceptance from myself gave more substance and tactile understanding for what it means to see others that way.
The Meditation Mantra of the Month is the word Namaste. Namaste is the word that is most often said at the end of a yoga class. And it is a greeting said a bajillion times a day in places like Nepal, India, and more places than I surely know about. I imagine there are enough claims of what it means as people who say it. What I understand it means is “that which is sacred & holy in me, recognizes that which is sacred & holy in you”. I think it’s a pretty powerful statement. Seeing the sacred & holy in others grows out of seeing the sacred & holy in yourself, first. Seeing with the other one. That’s a powerful practice in compassion, forgiveness, love, encouragement, humility, and community that can only grow out of you then to others. This is not a practice that makes perfect. No one will ever do this perfectly, that’s why there’s acceptance, forgiveness, and infinite love. Namaste is a practice that is perfect.
So, we will be more intentionally practicing namaste in our Daily Bread Yoga classes this month. Feel free to join us, no matter where you are.
peace on your head,
****The first line of the Fr. Gregory Boyle quote comes from the following Rumi poem that is not formatted correctly as I cut/paste it from elsewhere – sorry. ****
A Community of the Spirit
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.
Open your hands,
if you want to be held.
Sit down in the circle.
Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.
At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.
Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.
You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”
Twenty more will come.
Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.
From Rumi – Selected Poems (Penguin Classics)
Translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne