I Have Arrived. I Am Home.
I have been hesitant to post or write after coming back from my sabbatical. If you read my recent LinkedIn post (pic below), I shared that I am now asking myself what my intention for sharing is before I post. If you are personally affected by the events in the Middle East, I am truly very sorry for the suffering that’s happening and send you light during this time.
During my break, I’ve been reflecting on life in diverse ways: I lived for a week with 100+ Buddhists and monastics from all over the world at Plum Village, I engaged in conversations with coaches in Bali, and I turned the volume Off on mental stimuli to create space for deeper reflections internally.
I wrote 5 Insights From My Sabbatical on Linkedin, but in this newsletter I wanted to share a more heartfelt expression that has been emerging for me.
- Compassion Matters: The most transformative part of living with monastics was the felt sense of compassion in a peaceful community. There were a few ingredients that helped: we were living in nature, we had a spacious schedule, and we had a shared moral code. Every single person took personal responsibility for their words and actions, and self-corrected constantly. We were a diverse group from Africa, Europe, U.S., China, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand… and yet there was no Other-ing, as there was a shared belief that all humans are inter-connected,
I remember thinking: “Peace is possible with humans.” In hindsight, I can see how much of a gift it was. The felt sense of peace there was in stark contrast with the world I came back to. And it made me wonder. What’s different? The key difference is the amount of compassion that was offered to each other and to the world, with no expectation in return. Compassion makes a difference at every level of scale. How could we all bring more compassion into our lives to generate more peace in the world?
- “No Mud, No Lotus”: Most people try to avoid suffering and pain at all cost. “No mud, no lotus” is a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh who says that suffering is the mud that is necessary for the lotus (something beautiful) to bloom.
Hanh was exiled from his home country Vietnam for 39 years after being vocal against the war. He has experienced a lot of suffering in his life, and mindfulness practices supported him through many storms. Today, he leaves an incredible legacy of compassion-based advocacy movements and communities he has created (often from the frontlines). He is an example of someone who was able to transform pain from extreme events into positive contributions to the world. It’s not unusual for someone with a lasting legacy in the world to do this with their pain. It takes a lot of wisdom to live in this way. How could we cultivate more wisdom?
- “I am home. I have arrived.” is a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh that greets us at the entrance of Plum Village Thailand. In that quote, he is talking about taking refuge within ourselves as our true home. It is a beautiful practice that helps us stay grounded during times of high-change. It also helps us give our minds a break.
Our impact can expand when we find a home within ourselves and realize that most of us have everything we need already to be happy. Suffering exists within all of our lives, but it is unevenly distributed. What I’ve taken away from my travels is that there is a path that involves being kind to our own suffering while also showing compassionate support to others’ suffering too. No fear, all love. Many people are on this path.
I’ll meet you there.