...reflections from a Compassionate Listener

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Truth is like oxygen.

Today at our Advanced Training we held the Truth Mandala ritual (a gift to the world from Joanna Macy). All thirty-two of us gathered in a tight circle, which was divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant held a symbol - dead leaves for loss and grief, a stick for anger, a large stone to symbolize our cold, hard hearts when we are fearful, and an empty bowl for emptiness - for what's missing. The ground underneath the mandala is the ground of hope. Each person was invited to enter the mandala, pick up the object that we feel drawn to, and speak from that quadrant. Indeed, truth is like oxygen. It takes so much courage to face the times we live in - to continue to generate the strength and courage necessary to feel, to act, and to anchor in a place of compassion for all that we fear - not just for what and who we love.

We entered the circle, one by one, with our tears, sorrow, grief, rage, longing and prayers. Joanna, a Buddhist scholar and environmental activist who brought this work that she calls "from despair to empowerment" to people around the world, knows that when we take the time to feel and express our despair, we are able to move through numbness and hopelessness, and reconnect with joy, clarity, and the energy to act on behalf of our beloved planet. I began using the Truth Mandala in trainings ten years ago, and have witnessed again and again the beauty and power of this ritual. Today, Andrea led us in the ritual, and it was no different.

Today in the circle of the mandala, those participants who have experienced some of the darkest that humanity has to offer, showed us the capacity of the human heart to forgive, and to love. That in itself gives us so much hope. Three remarkable men - one from Sudan - a "Lost Boy" who was forced into being a child soldier; a man who lost his family to the insanity in Rwanda, and another man who miraculously escaped from the war in Chad. And now they are teachers for us, their hearts so full of love...

After the long ritual, we stand in a circle, in silence, arms linked tightly, gently swaying in an ocean of compassion, with no need for words.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Leah, what quick work. The power of this weekend has been a-mazing! Yehudah