Hearing and Feeling the Cries of the World

War and Suffering

Breathing in, we allow ourselves to feel the inevitable suffering that occurs in this life.  

Our heart’s natural response to this suffering, while breathing out, is compassion.  

We breathe in the pain and suffering of this world like a dark cloud, letting it pass through our hearts. Rather than bracing ourselves against this pain and suffering, we can let it strengthen our sense of belonging and interdependence within the larger web of being.  

Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) is the Bodhisattva of Universal Compassion. His name means “One Who Hears the Cries of the World.” Long ago he vowed not to return to Nirvana until all living beings had been liberated from suffering. Avalokiteshvara listens to and feels the pain and suffering of the world. He breathes in, receiving the cries and anguish of the world and responds with the greatest care and compassion.  

In Buddhism, the traditional vow made by the Bodhisattva is to alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings.  

The path of the Bodhisattva is to remember our belonging and connection with all of life. When we know in our hearts that we are connected to the insects, animals, trees, the earth, and every living being, we do not cause harm or suffering to any of these parts of ourselves.  

Rather, we become sensitive and attuned to the cries of the world, and we learn to respond with wisdom and deep compassion. We develop the wish to free all beings from their suffering and its causes; we desire, more than anything, to bring them happiness and peace.  

Indeed, the practice of Tonglen is an excellent way for us to train our heart and mind so we too can develop universal compassion and help alleviate the suffering of all living beings.

 

Source : Used with permission from Neil Steven Cohen at Naljor Prison Dharma Service, PO Box 1177, Mount Shasta CA 96067. ( http://www.naljorprisondharmaservice.org/whatweoffer.htm)

Photo Credit: Intellimon Ltd.