Today morning I attended a talk by a cardiologist on Acute Heart Attacks. It was a fascinating talk from many perspectives. He casually mentioned that it’s a miracle that all of us are alive, we all laughed and moved on. But later on as I was contemplating during the day – it indeed is a miracle that all of use are alive and able to do things we do. Given that earth is revolving around the Sun at a distance, not too far, not too close, just right so that life can evolve. If we look around us – there is a delicate balance that has to be maintained to make sure that we are able to live and do things in the world.
We take so many things for granted, until things start to go downhill. One of our very close, healthy friends recently suffered a stroke. He did all the right things – ate healthy, practiced Yoga, meditated, maintained a healthy relationship with friends and has a very loving family. One fine morning, he had a stroke! No sign, nothing – boom! Life came crashing down. As I got to know of this event, my heart sank and I began to wonder about him, his family, my life, my family and friends. I didn’t have the courage to go visit him in the hospital. As he was still critical and unconscious, I didn’t know what will I say to his family when I see them. After some time, I gathered up the courage to go visit the family in the hospital. As I drove towards the hospital, I still wasn’t sure how or what I will do. After I parked and started to walk towards the hospital, the story of the monk in the hospital mentioned by Thupten Jinpa in his book called A Fearless Heart about two year twins who had just drowned in an accident. The monk was asked to assist during this emergency by speaking to the family, helping comfort them. I can’t think of anyone who can say anything to console the parents or the family after such a tragic incident. The monk remembered that all I can do is breath in their suffering and send positive vibes by reaching out to my compassion inside. By practicing this sending and receiving, we are able to access the infinite space within us and introduced to infinite possibilities of our being.
Inspired by that story, I started to breath in, taking in all the suffering of my friend, who was still battling for his life, imagining all of it to be a dark cloud. I imagined my heart as a purifier that turned the dark cloud into something that is pure and clear as if – taking the suffering that was associated with the darkness. On the out breath, I sent out the healing light from my heart as an offering. I continued this as I met my friends family. I noticed that the nervousness that I had of facing the family had reduced, just a little. I also saw that my body language was of a person, who was more supportive, and prompting more of a nurturing, caring and reassuring for the family. I know I couldn’t do much – but I was there and the practice of TongLen had helped me calm down my nerves.
In addition, I was able to offer the same meditation – a much simpler version to friends family. Even though I felt sad by the situation, but when we are helpless, this practice helps us be more present and aware to make better decisions.My friend has regained consciousness but there is a long way to go. I have gone to see the family a few times since then but each time, I practice TongLen, whatever I feel right at that point, when I go visit them.
As the devastating attacks that killed and injured so many in Colombo today, reminded me that I can’t do much for the families, friends and fellow humans from my side where I am, but offer them TongLen. I invite you to do the same, in whatever way you can.
Yes, it’s a miracle that we are all alive and breathing – but when we know it’s a miracle – let’s honour this life and give it our best in every possible way.