I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together ~ John Lennon
And what is your reaction to this man when you look at his face? What thoughts and stories are you creating about who he is and what criminal acts he has committed? Do you feel fear or repulsion when you look at him, or do you perhaps feel sadness or compassion toward him? And in reality, could this not possibly be your Son or Brother? My Son or Brother.
I think that outward appearances make it very easy for us to judge others, and form positive or negative feelings. A sweet little old lady crossing the street touches our heart and stirs feelings of love and caring. A cute puppy makes us feel joyful and childlike. And a man with a swastika (卐) tattoo on his forehead may create fear and loathing, and perhaps stirring the horrific memories of someone like Charles Manson.
But did you know that the origin of the swastika comes from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning “all is well”. The swastika is said to contain the whole mind of the Buddha and can often be found imprinted on the chest, feet or palms of Buddha images. It is also the first of the 108 auspicious symbols on the footprint of the Buddha.
But this is not about symbols or individuals at all, but the observation of self. Using visual input as a reflection of who we are, and are not simply based upon certain stimuli. And how very clearly this can be a tremendous delusion for each one of us. Whether we look at an animal and decide we reign supreme over its life that it may be murdered for food, or look at a tattoo on someone and deem them to be a pariah. And at what point do we remove this blindness, dogma and ego, that we may understand and see that we are all deeply connected beings? And this brings me back to one of Bhante Sujatha‘s sayings of “Let it begin with me”.
I am not going to change the World and neither are you. In fact, just attempting to change one other person is an unwise and unskillful waste of our energy. And certainly one that lacks mindfulness and wisdom. We can only apply healthy cultivation by observing our own minds and annihilating each sensory fabrication one by one. Individually, with patience, allowing ourselves to observe the rise of these thoughts and feelings while not attaching any stories. What we find that remains is simply the truth. Without fears, hopes, wishes or judgments, I believe that our hearts open like a lotus flower drinking in the Sun.
We are each so much more than the sum of our parts. Sights, sounds, smells and even thoughts are each of no use without the other senses. Just as we are not-self without all other life which reflects itself as split second images in the mind. Slowly, we can begin to see that without all other life there can truly be no self (anatta). It is not what I am, but what I am not.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.