There are pivotal times. This is one of them.
We’re all here together, no matter where we might be in the spectrum.
Hurricane Harvey didn’t happen only in Texas. Fukushima wasn’t isolated. Now chemicals are burning in Houston. North Korea’s actions affect everyone. The Trump presidency isn’t only an American presidency. Charlottesville displayed ancient hatred that has global and historical roots. Right around Harvey, there were horrible floods in India too, resulting in over a 1000 deaths.
We’re here together on one planet. This truth is inescapable.
When there’s so much pressure in the system, in this case a whole planet, there’s naturally anger, anxiety and fear.
The founder of Reiki, Usui Sensei, simply wrote:
For today only
Do not anger
Do not worry
This isn’t unrealistic. Tokyo experienced a significant earthquake during Usui’s lifetime. He was relating to it all from a real place. (Read: Japan, Reiki, Zen, Shinto and Earthquakes.)
One of the great things about the Reiki Precepts is that non-practitioners can benefit from them too, because they are universal.
Usui Sensei isn’t saying never feel angry or worried. That would be great. Instead, the brevity and directness of the words draws us in, makes us pay attention. Paying attention means we pause or even stop the habitual mind.
Often anger and worry are hardwired from repetition. We fall for them by default when there’s too much pressure. They could also be there for legitimate reasons. Whatever the case, extracting ourselves from auto-pilot is always a big plus!
There are many possible interpretations. Mostly, the precept regarding anger (includes upset, overwhelm, outrage) and worry (includes fear, anxiety, distrust), seems to be about how we relate to these feelings as we experience them. How then do we relate to the events and relationships that these feelings are connected to. If we can be present both with the events and the feelings we have, there’s a good chance for us to navigate skillfully.
Usui then wrote this as the next line:
There’s so much spaciousness in these two little words. It immediately relaxes. The breath comes in. All is good. Yes, the TV news may not be so great. But you’re good. There’s GOOD in humility. And gratitude too.
Being humble helps with anger and worry. You may be angry or upset that climate change is being denied, yet its evidence is plain to see. You may be angry or upset that hate is on display so brazenly.
Yet another terrorist attack is upsetting. Do you cherish democracy? You may be having very difficult feelings right now.
Humility softens all that. Not so you’re numbed into inaction on what’s important to you, but softening to regather your strength. Taking a healing breather.
Guess what’s next.
Be honest in your work.
Corruption, collusion, malicious hacking, data breaches, leaks, actual fake news are the headlines every day.
The planet isn’t only heating up in its ecosystem. The events of our times pump suspicion, negativity, fear, chaos and tension into the air we all breathe. These are all hot energies, creating heat in the mind, heart and gut.
Honesty is clean and cool. It’s refreshing and simple.
The planet needs simplicity.
And we need honesty from our elected officials, our government, scientists, the medical sector, the military and police, the press, corporations, banks, NGOs (see this ongoing report on the Red Cross), the list goes on. It’s any large body that has a position of responsibility and expertise, that impacts large populations of people.
We must practice honesty with ourselves and in our relationships. Dishonesty, as displayed by influences outside our lives can become extremely corrosive and toxic. This leads to inharmony in the psyche of communities, nations and the world.
So we must at least have a home base of honesty to counteract and balance. Then we can turn around and demand honesty from those in power.
Usui Sensei finishes off the Reiki Precepts with this:
Be compassionate to yourself and others.
(Contiuned below image.)
Compassion and its satellites are nuanced:
The definition of compassion is often confused with that of empathy. Empathy, as defined by researchers, is the visceral or emotional experience of another person’s feelings. It is, in a sense, an automatic mirroring of another’s emotion, like tearing up at a friend’s sadness. Altruism is an action that benefits someone else. It may or may not be accompanied by empathy or compassion, for example in the case of making a donation for tax purposes. Although these terms are related to compassion, they are not identical. Compassion often does, of course, involve an empathic response and an altruistic behavior. However, compassion is defined as the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help alleviate that suffering.
— Emma Seppälä, Ph.D.
Compassion is a rich resource. It’s an efficient resource: it helps the giver and recipient, and can be given to oneself as well. In fact, self-compassion is vital! What’s misunderstood about compassion is that it can be very powerful, a real strength. There’s fierce compassion and gentle compassion. Both have our backs.
Not only does compassion heal, it makes us patient and resourceful. It gives us a fire to sustain effort. It feels really good. With compassion we’re able to restore both ourselves and others, as well as pets and animals.
You know what else? Compassion is civil. It brings respect and the ability to listen in disagreements. It seeks a common solution, one that’s inclusive. Compassion tempers our language and approach.
Compassion is emotional intelligence at the highest level.
Our times and the events, currents, themes, trends and various forces of these times desperately need both compassion and emotional intelligence.
Then there are the words Usui Sensei used to start the Reiki Precepts:
For today only
It’s what we do now that matters. It’s about how we take care of now. This isn’t oblivious of the future, for the future begins here.
If we blunder now, there’s no future anyhow. The flooding in Houston is exactly how climate change will reconfigure many lands and populations. Just one example, regarding one challenge.
We’re responsible for today.
If we can manage today without anger and worry, walk with humility and show gratitude, be honest in our words and deeds, and source our life from a well of compassion then there’s an opportunity.
A substantial and powerful opportunity that good will prevail, and the planet with all it houses will thrive.
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Teacher of Reiki Classes in the original tradition and Japanese teachings of Mikao Usui (Sensei) in South Florida. Meditation, Healing, and Spirituality training and services.