Street-Wise Compassion

It’s easy, at least for me, to feel compassion (and act up on it) when encountering someone less fortunate than I. The man sitting on the ground, by the entrance of the Starbuck’s on the corner of Broadway and 66th street, for example. I met him on Monday, as I exited the M104 bus to catch the downtown 1 train (let’s face it, trains are faster).


He wasn’t begging, pleading or yelling obscenities (as some of our street-living brothers and sisters are wanton to do). I asked him if he was doing ok, if he needed anything to eat. He thanked me and said he had just eaten a sandwich. Just a quick exchange, some human contact, we probably both needed it; to remind ourselves that we are human, that just saying hello is sometimes enough.

But I find it infinitely harder, for example, to be compassionate with those who seem to have it all. I know it’s a huge mistake and that how could I possibly think that just because someone is able to take a train (and it is fair to assume they are going to a place of employment, for example), that they are “better off.” What? Do I have x-ray vision? How arrogant and, more importantly, pretentious of me to think that! I must constantly remind myself to “be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” (Plato, Ian McLaren or John Watson)

    May you be safe,
    May you be healthy,
    May you be happy,
    May you live with ease.


There is something so powerful motivating about being in a large room (conference center at Menla Mountain), surrounded by mountains, by trees, chirping birds (and chipmunks), laborious woodpeckers, beautiful thangkas and the remnants of memories of a New Year’s Eve retreat with Robert Thurman and Sharon Salzberg.

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But alas, after four days of trail restoration in the Catskills, I returned to the hustle and bustle of the big apple and right on schedule, the monkey mind that had been napping gently lulled by the chirps and squeaks and squawks, began to wake and mimic the sounds of the city. And so did my annoyance at the people not walking on the right hand side, the push and pull of subway trains, the delays of the MTA, the warrior-like prance of women pushing strollers. So this morning, as I sat for my daily #MettainMay sit, I was reminded of the anecdote that Bob Thurman uses to remind us to live compassionately:

“Imagine you’re on the New York City subway, and these extraterrestrials come and zap the subway car so that all of you in it are going to be together. Forever.” We might not like everyone, but we’re going to be together forever, so we need to get along, we need to take care of one another, and acknowledge that our lives are linked. Isn’t living on earth like being in that subway car? We’re all together forever; our lives are interconnected. Forever

Do Something for You

We are fast approaching the end of the first week of #MettainMay, 31 days of lovingkindness meditation. Funny how time flies, no?


view of Mahasukha Spa at Menla

In the spirit, then, of not only caring for others, but ourselves as well, I will be spending four days at beautiful Menla Mountain (Center for Health and Happiness). I am going to be, as my friend J says, “cleaning the outside,” in other words, I will be helping clear the trails around the property.

I will also be getting a massage and taking advantage of the wonderful Mahasukha Spa. Now, since the magical, beautiful, wondrous area of the Catskills is not cell phone friendly, I will still be sitting every day, but my internet access/presence will be minimal—another benefit!

In the meantime, I look forward to reading your comments/posts on random acts of kindness, or how lovingkindness meditation is benefitting you and others and as always I wish that you all may be safe, healthy, happy and live with ease.