Collected contemplations from 2005 by Jarek Czechowicz
- The Nature of Our Illusion
- Experience, Symbols and Silence
- North Pole - South Pole
- No Thinking, No Problem
- DisAbility & Spirituality
- Social Change and Spiritual Justice
- Space, Time and Silence
- Metta Sutta
- Loving Yourself
- Welcome To You
- Direct Knowing
- Tsunami and Tragedy
The Nature of Our Illusion
The nature of our illusion is that we take our thinking much too seriously. Thinking is something that we experience, just as we experience our body aging or the changing scenery of the universe around us. As our attention attaches to any particular thoughts they manifest to some degree in imagination, words or actions, as part of an ever changing and unfolding reality.
In the 1960s American philosopher Alan Watts entertained audiences with the idea that the earth produces people in the same way that an apple tree produces apples. In like manner the mind produces thoughts. The funny thing is that we tend to think that 'we' think our thoughts. And if that doesn't make you smile then you might be taking your thinking too seriously. That's not to suggest that thinking is bad, nor that you shouldn't experience skilful thinking.
We take our thinking so seriously because 'we think' that we don't want to lose anything - at least not anything that we like or love. Yet experience constantly demonstrates that we lose things - in fact everything, yet in Truth we lose nothing. Countless thoughts have arisen and disappeared and yet we still choose to believe that they belong to the transient individual we call 'me' - 'I' indivisible, yet somehow separate, from the whole.
How do you create a thought? How do you know it's yours? You might say: "I know it's mine because no one else can observe it directly". Well you can't observe your own face directly. Does that mean that your face belongs to whomever can observe it directly?
You don't create your thoughts. You like to think they're yours - particularly if they're pleasant - because you experience them and you want to retain the pleasure of that experience. But what about all the unpleasant thoughts that you would prefer not to experience? If you think they are yours then you probably believe that you have lots of problems.
If you know that thoughts are not your creations then you can simply attend to the best available thought or action until prevailing conditions change, just as you might dress suitably when you observe changes in the weather. The best available action might mean applying your skills, 'going with the flow', enjoying the comfort of friends, seeking professional advice or taking medication.
One might ask: "But if I don't create the thoughts then who is it that attends to the best possible thought or action?". This is something you can disciver in meditation by resting attention on any paradox that discursive thinking provides. Paradox is a doorway through which conceptual thinking cannot pass but through which Truth can freely enter.
Thought - which in this context includes feelings - can be overwhelming at times. Even a small insight into it's nature can help free you of many burdens and help you to experience your inner peace sooner rather than later.
If you expect to sit still in meditation, or contemplation, or prayer, to master the mind by controlling or stopping all thoughts, then you could experience a lot of anxiety and other psychological suffering. Meditation and expanding awareness is not about being controlling or being in conflict within yourself. It simply IS being. It simply is BEING - observing the experience, the giving, and the accepting - even in the midst of complex activity.
In the Bhagavad Gita 3.4 - 3.5 Krishna states: "A man does not attain freedom from action by refraining from action. ... For not even a moment can a man be without action. All are helplessly driven by the forces of Nature". The forces of Nature include thought. Thought is natural. So sit still when you sit still and move when you move, in either situation rest your awareness in selfless contemplation.
Selfishness manifests with the illusion that things - including thoughts - can be yours, or should not be yours. There is no selfishness when there is no 'serious' identification with passing thoughts. Consequently any resulting actions are inspired, spontaneous, appropriate and compassionate through their genuine selflessness.
In light of this, if you believe that you have 'free will' then you should at least use it to be happy and to attend to some good thoughts and activities - or simply surrender to the Biblical wisdom of 'Thy Will Be Done'.
A wise person once said, "To know God you must lead a selfless life."
"But what if at the end of it all I find that there is no God?" asked another.
"Well, then you've led a 'selfless' life for nothing."
Experience, Symbols and Silence
At any moment an infinite number of events are manifesting and flowing before our awareness - and they demand our attention. In response we give our attention, usually unwittingly and according to our desires, intentions and attitudes. This interplay of manifestation, attention and desires defines the reality that we experience in our mind.
We have developed the mental habit of understanding our experience as occurring in a linear fashion, as though each event had a clear cause and a clear effect. As though we were flowing through the events rather than they flowing though us. But we also have the natural capacity to experience the very same events more deeply, as part of an unending undivided flux of consciousness.
The ocean and it's waves serve as a useful metaphor. A single wave on the ocean can be photographed, recorded and understood as an abstraction but it is far more meaningful to experience it as part of the ocean. When we think about a wave through the use of words or symbols we are not experiencing the wave, we are experiencing our own thinking about the wave.
The process of understanding things as we do reveals to us the nature of our mind, yet our ignorance prevents us from knowing this. We think we are having insights into the nature of the wave, or whatever else we might be investigating.
To come closer to the experience of the thing or the event we need to approach its source. We begin by letting go of pointers such as words, symbols, verses, explanations, descriptions and theories.
The real experience of all things is in silent awareness.
The real experience of all things is in silent awareness. In silent awareness we come to know that our mind, body, ideas and prayers are inseparable parts of the arising and subsiding waves of creation. All of it is the prayer, the mantra and the song arising in a pure field of awareness.
North Pole - South Pole
A spiritual seeker found herself wandering around the South Pole. She didn't know where she was but had heard that she would become enlightened once she arrived at the North Pole.
Fortunately the weather was fine and there were a number of spiritual teachers at the South Pole at the time. And they had all been to the North pole.
She went to each teacher asking for directions to the North Pole. Each raised their right arm parallel to the ground but each pointed in a different direction.
No Thinking, No Problem
The thought of 'not thinking' might seem very strange to some people. Yet everyone experiences 'not thinking' at various times, though they may not be aware of it. When the state of 'not thinking' arises together with an awareness of that condition then a sense of deep inner peace emerges.
Most people recognise that they have experienced an unconscious state of 'no thought' after dreamless sleep. Many long to return to it every morning not long after they wake up. The pitfall is that it is an unconscious state.
Entering a state of 'no thought' while awake and active strikes a note of concern, or even fear in people who think compulsively. This is because they equate lack of thought with being out of control. For them, incessant thought can give the illusion of having a measure of power. And so they seek through thinking a condition that thinking cannot provide.
Both pleasure and pain can cause a temporary detachment from thought. In some cases pain can cause a significant shift toward awakening consciousness. Unfortunately pleasure is deceptively misleading and can easily bring deeper unconsciousness.
A state of higher consciousness is marked by a reduction of incessant analytical thought, a lack of worry, a freedom from frustration and anger, and a sense of ease and flow. One still interacts with daily life as it unfolds but one is less likely to get caught up in its snags.
Being fully absorbed in an inspired activity, or in one that requires great focus, can also lead to a temporary state of 'no thought'. Unlike dreamless sleep, impressions are made in the mind during these states but awareness shifts away from the habitual engagement of ongoing thoughts.
Obstacles to achieving 'no thought' arise with the belief that the condition has to be understood intellectually. An attachment to an intellectual outcome prevents the state from arising because the belief, and the resulting desire to understand, generates more thinking.
If one is inspired by thinking itself, then a point of 'no thought' can be reached through the observance of thought as it arises and subsides. This cannot be achieved through a linear rational thought pattern or 'thinking technique' but rather through noticing the nature of thought, noticing the transition from one thought to another, or noticing the way that arising thoughts seek and get attention.
An insight through inspired thinking gives the impression that thought is somehow external and objective to an internal and equanimous observer. This initial detachment from thought is what gives rise to the idea of stilling the mind. There is a sense of stillness even though thought continues on as usual. The sense of stillness indicates that one is becoming free of thought. An increased sense of contented peace always accompanies a positive detachment from thinking.
It is not a matter of controlling the mind through will power. Rather it is a disentanglement from attachments to pointless and unproductive thinking. This is accomplished through a peaceful and patient inner acceptance of whatever arises.
Seeking to control thoughts with will power is like trying to beat the waves of the ocean into stillness. It just creates more agitation. The key is to compassionately and patiently ignore unproductive thoughts while gently retuning the attention to inner peace, or at least to more productive thoughts.
Thinking prevents the arising of the peaceful inner condition that is sought through thinking. Achieving inner peace through compulsive thinking is like looking for light in a dark place that has no access to light. The best course of action is to leave the dark place and enter the light. In spiritual terms this is done through surrender, acceptance, love, compassion, and being fully present in the moment.
Sustained absence of thought is rare. Yet every time it is experienced with awareness one learns to rise above the waves of thought. The practical result is that unproductive thinking is replaced with inspired thinking and unconsciousness is replaced by an awakening awareness.
DisAbility & Spirituality
Much of modern society is based on ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’; on willful action rather than inspired action. Because of that, our ideas of ability and disability represent a quite limited view. A mature society that understands itself from a spiritual perspective will not think in terms of disabled; it will enjoy the unlimited resources of all ‘enabled’ people.
Society’s perceptions of disability grow out of our shared goals and values. When the value system is based on ‘doing’, people come to expect that they will be gratified through an ideal set of actions. Action apparently promises relief from feeling undervalued, unimportant and inadequate—and any other number of negative conditions.
Action is obviously a part of everyday life, but society, which has surpassed itself in the field of action, now finds itself in a phase of diminishing returns. Conflict, stress, and overwhelming fears of loss and failure are outweighing the simple joys of living.
Some spiritual humourists have observed that we might be better described as a society of ‘human doings’ because our lives, thoughts and conversations tend to revolve around willful action. There is a constant struggle to maintain, improve or escape current conditions, and a desire to experience some ideal condition that promises instant gratification.
Unfortunately instant gratification doesn’t mean that you get lasting gratification instantly, it means that gratification only lasts for an instant, just long enough to keep you dissatisfied. If it was otherwise then it would be called ‘permanent gratification’.
In willful action your attention is constantly looking to the future with expectation. This creates an inner friction between an imperfect present condition, and an imaginary but highly desirable future condition; whereas in simply ‘being’, your awareness rests in the present moment and responds to arising circumstances without inner friction, or at least with less friction.
When our measure of value is based in ‘being’, then a more permanent gratification manifests through a sense of inner peace. Many burdens drop away, and mental knots unravel, of their own accord. This is not a super-human achievement; it is a natural state of being available to anyone.
Consider a wondrous landscape that inspires music or a painting. The landscape simply ‘IS’. It doesn’t intend anything. Yet its simple presence can inspire a great work of art, as can the presence of a friend.
Just as air inspires the body, just as Creation inspires life, you can inspire action without having to willfully do anything. Sometimes that inspired action is your own, at other times it manifests as the inspired action of others.
We are all faced with limitations and obstacles. For some people, numerous obstacles seem to appear at once. Whether able-bodied or disabled the thing that bears down upon us is the ongoing intellectual and emotional weight that we place on our experiences.
Consider the nature of an obstacle or a disability. Obstacles only arise in relation to desire. Where there is no desire there is no obstacle. If you genuinely have no desire to do something, to control something or to own something, then no obstacle can arise.
If you are fulfilled, contented and at peace, then you do not need to do anything willfully. If, as a contented person, you choose to do something, then it becomes selfless because you don’t need or desire the outcome for yourself. Any action you take becomes a natural action that emanates from your ‘being’ rather than from your ‘doing’. Your action is inspired for the benefit of others.
Content and at peace in your ‘being’ you are at once content and at peace in your doing. You can still choose to face obstacles in order to do something for a good cause, but the obstacles are no longer seen as a heavy and negative psychological burden. Obstacles become an adventure in the service of others.
Many people think of spirituality as being an alternative to religion when in fact spirituality can complement any area of life. Spirituality provides us with a way of integrating our knowledge, our beliefs, our faith and our actions to create well-being.
Well-being reflects the integration of the various elements of the individual and of the society, including those elements that seem to oppose integration. Note that the keyword is ‘well-being’ and not ‘well-doing’. The full social integration of all people begins with a shift in perception, away from just ‘doing’ and toward just ‘being’. Just Be.
Social Change and Spiritual Justice
Inner peace, or at least a spiritual dimension to life, is a prerequisite for understanding real social change. Ravi Ravindra points to this in his book 'Christ the Yogi' when he writes: "... only those who have left the world can change it."
The idea is strangely familiar to many people and has links to both mundane and scientific notions. Some pragmatists value the idea of thinking outside the square. In physics a related principle is known as Gödel's Theorem. These are based on the assumption every system has an inside and an outside.
Any system of thought or explanation of reality offers an appearance of consistency from within itself, and that system can only be changed from a metaphorical 'outside'. This outside position is perhaps more appropriately described as a shift in consciousness, an expansion of awareness or a moment of insight that moves the thinker beyond the given system.
Ravi Ravindra's statement - found in his insightful reflection on the Gospel of John - points beyond the linear and the lateral. Like all statements of its type it can hold complex meaning. More importantly it can provide a paradox, a rift in thought, and an opportunity to experience another 'world' of knowing.
One expression of inner peace is the ability to consciously leave behind all kinds of thinking, including the thinking you are now experiencing, to enter a state that reveals a higher level of order. Call it intuition or the Will of God. Call it the intelligence that governed your development since before you can remember, or for that matter, since before you could even begin to think about it.
This higher order intelligence is the perfection of the path of least resistance. All forces are applied and distributed at the right time and by the right amount to sustain creation. It is balance and justice in its very essence and not something that any individual can posses. It is the state of natural being. Faith without the need of hope. Having without the need of acquiring. Change without the need of effort. Mental opposition and resistance to this natural balance causes the appearance of conflict and psychological suffering.
Human intelligence without inner peace or a spiritual dimension is a low order intelligence, albeit quite a powerful one. It finds itself bewildered and at odds with almost everything. It tries to force things to conform to its own will and limited expectations. It becomes full of anger and pride when faced with obstacles, invariably leading it to take actions that often worsen its predicament, all the while pursuing some imaginary reward.
From the intellectual and emotional perspective everything could be so much better, everything needs to be put in balance. From the spiritual perspective everything is already better, or rather, everything is at it is. Everything IS in balance.
Space, Time and Silence
In time there is nothing unchanging. In space there is nothing solid. In silence there is nothing thought.
Our attention moves toward the objects that stimulate our desires, but rarely rests in that which contains those objects, namely space and time. Our attention moves away from the objects that stimulate our aversions, but rarely rests in that which contains those objects, namely space and time.
Our thoughts are constantly moving from this object of thought to that object of thought. A restless movement of arising thoughts and dissolving thoughts, arising impressions and dissolving impressions, arising sensations and dissolving sensations. Yet our attention rarely rests in that which contains these manifestations, namely silence.
We tend to assume that space, time and silence form something like an infinite container, something separate, ineffable and abstract, yet somehow substantial, and out of which thoughts and objects mysteriously appear. The tendency of the mind is to draw the attention away from this container and into its contents.
Notice the unnamable shapes. Notice the timeless moments. Notice the gaps in thought. ( You can sometimes notice these more easily when you laugh ).
When the attention moves away from the contents to rest in stillness then the container disappears, and space, time and silence permeate every object and every thought.
A CONTEMPORARY INTERPRETATION BY JAREK CZECHOWICZ
The Buddha's Hymn of Loving Kindness.
This is what the wise and skilful ones instruct to attain peace:
Be honest and humble. Speak gently and sparingly. Be content. Cultivate your inner peace.
Do not overwhelm yourself with useless and numerous tasks. Live simply. Let your manner be balanced toward all people. Be neither impudent nor groveling.
Do nothing that the wise would not do. Be joyful and undisturbed.
Wish peace for all beings, whether you perceive them to be large or small, visible or invisible, near or far, born or unborn, in high or low positions.
Deceive no one. Despise no one. Harm no one. Have no desire for the suffering of anyone.
Embrace all creation with boundless love just as a loving mother cares for her only child.
Cultivate a pure heart. Radiate loving kindness unbounded by space and unobstructed by selfishness.
Learn to be constantly mindful until you can sustain your mindfulness in all circumstances, whether walking, standing, sitting or laying down.
Free of selfish desires, free of egotistical opinions, free of distracting thoughts, free of turbulent feelings, abiding with clear vision, in a state of sublime peace, the one with a pure heart is free of suffering.
What is your body? Where does your body begin and where does it end? The answers might seem obvious, until you stop to wonder at your body.
Wonder has been limited by many thinkers because they haven't known that wonder is approached, and experienced most fully, by dropping all concepts. Consequently it has been under-represented in our language through usage such as 'I wonder what this means?'.
Wonder is the glorious state of mind that observes through intuitive insights rather than intellectual incisions. Wonder digests creation in ever greater portions, and with increasing ease. Wonder is immediate. Wonder in now.
Most people can experience a degree of wonder at extraordinary phenomena. Great scientific equations are born of wonder, as is great art. But very few people experience wonder at the mundane and the obvious. And what is more obvious than one's own body?
Wonder at the way your body recycles nature! Wonder at the way it is transformed by nature!
Water flows through your body constantly. Where does it go? Back to nature and into the next body. As does food, as does air. Can anything be more obvious? Every other particle of your body has come and gone in the same way since you were stardust.
Consider the following composition by St. Augustine: "People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; And they pass by themselves without wondering."
We extend into infinity, even at the obvious level of everyday existence, through all the forms of matter that temporarily construct and constitute our body. We extend into infinity through the countless elements that we unwittingly share with all.
Sometimes sequences of words are remembered and repeated yet their meaning is lost. The same happens with ritual actions. Words and rituals have preserved much human knowledge, not by containing the knowledge but by pointing to it. When meaning seems most obvious then it is usually lost. When we learn to wonder at the obvious things around us then their lost meaning reappears.
If you have a headache you don't hit your head. If you have a sprained your ankle you don't stomp on it. If a part of your body is damaged and hurting, then the sensible thing to do is to treat it with care until it can function at its best. So why can't you always treat yourself and others with due care? Perhaps there is something you have overlooked.
Pain signals that attention is required, but sometimes damage in a body-part is apparent only when it is nearing total loss of function. There are also instances where the nerves and feelings don't register pain at all.
Imagine if all your body-parts were numb. You might not notice damage until it was too late. You might even harm yourself many times inadvertently.
Now imagine that other people are like parts of your own body to which you are numb. You can sense them externally but you can't truly register them internally until they make contact with a part of you that is sensitive.
If people are hurt and in pain they might try to send you pain signals. If they are happy and in pleasure they might try to send you pleasure signals. Of course you'd prefer to go toward the pleasure signals, and avoid the pain signals, at least until the latter become too painful.
Here is the significance of this imagination. When your body's nervous system recovers from it's numbness you can then better determine the relation of your various body parts and the condition of those parts. When your awareness recovers or discovers its metaphorical 'spiritual nervous system' you can then determine the true relation of yourself to other people.
Once you begin to expand your awareness, awaken your consciousness, recover feeling in your 'spiritual senses', the idea of loving your neighbour as yourself begins to make perfect sense. You realise that you are not separate from your neighbour. Your neighbour is an extension of both the 'spiritual you' and the 'physical you'.
You might hurt others because you think you are separate from them. Others might hurt you because they think they are separate from you. This is acting like a person who, while sleeping, repeatedly hits his numb head with his arm, and in the morning complains of a headache. While sleeping he does not realise what he is doing. On waking he begins to realise the truth:
Love your neighbour as yourself
because your neighbour is You.
Welcome To You
Things arise and pass away constantly. Some affect us, some we ignore, and some don't even seem to be arising or passing. A moment ago your body was over there and now it's here. You were thinking something else and now you're thinking about this. What gives you the sense of being you?
You were once a baby and now your old enough to read this. You look very different today and you will look very different in the future. If you could hold the baby that was once you then you would probably not recognise that baby as being you. In one way you are not the same person. In another way you are the same.
If the baby is you then why is it so different from the way you experience yourself now? If that baby is not you then why have you experienced a sense of sameness? The sense of identity that links the you of yesterday to the you of today depends on an illusion of continuity in time. Your sense of temporal continuity seems to extend from a vague past unconsciousness up until the present moment.
One day in the future your body will return to dust and to the elements. Is that 'you' as well? If you could hold the dispersed dust, water and other subtle elements that once formed your body, mind or soul, then you would probably not recognise yourself in that future state.
What would happen if you could experience a sense of continuity in space in the same way that you now experience a sense of continuity in time? Your sense of spatial continuity might begin at the vague outer recesses of infinity and end right here.
If you experienced yourself as being continuous in space in addition to being continuous in time, then you might find yourself in Paradice (plural of paradox). You might look around and become aware of yourself within the things around you: people; nature; the universe. Look! Your perception of time and space has suddenly collapsed into the present moment and everything is You.
Say hello to You.
Smile and wave.
Welcome to YOU.
The underlying assumption in much of thinking is that the thinker has time to consider all available information. In reality this is never the case. In time-poor conditions such as emergencies and time-rich conditions, like those approaching meditation, conventional thinking can give way to an awareness that could best be defined as 'direct knowing'.
Direct knowing is accessible to everyone, yet strangely unfamiliar to many people. It has some basic pre-requisites: inner peace, active-calm, calm acitivity and trust. One is actively-calm when relaxed, alert and ready to act. One is calmly-active when performing a task without distracting thoughts or feelings. These are accesible but uncommon states because thoughts and feelings generally mask inner peace.
It is considered normal when the mind seems to float from one idea to another like a small feather blown about in a gust of wind, or when it jumps about like popcorn. Less desirable when turbulent like a log tossed about in a raging river. More desirable when forced into a narrow focus like the photons of a laser. But these are all forms of mental agitations in search of fulfillment or pleasure.
So much of pleasure is little more than a degree of relief from pain. We unconsciously create unnecessary pain every time we try to control situations for selfish purposes. This condition is summed up by the statements: "I'll be happy when..." or "If only...".
The pursuit of happiness suggests that happiness is to be found at the end of a journey, at the end of a work, at the end of a course, at the end of an equation, or at the end of a rainbow. But it's either not there, or not there long enough to satisfy desire. Whenever a better future condition arrives it's not long before another problem, and another aversion arises. Consequently thinking, be it informal or formal, often becomes a tool for steering away from aversions and toward desires, through interminable attempts at controlling conditions that change.
Conventional thinking doesn't understand the beginning of things and it doesn't understand the end of things, yet it imagines it understands the middle of things.
Sooner or later that kind of thinking implodes on itself, figuratively speaking, creating confusion, depression, anxiety and all kinds of complex problems. Conventional thinking doesn't understand the beginning of things and it doesn't understand the end of things, yet it imagines it understands the middle of things. It regularly reaches a point that can be roughly interpreted as meaning: "HERE IS THE EXIT" or "THIS WAY OUT", but it can't leave itself behind. Instead it says: "There must be way out of here" or "There must be some theory that explains this." And so it turns back in on itself.
The experience of direct knowing extends beyond the plays and struggles of inner and outer conditions. It allows us to deal with all conditions as effortlessly, joyfully and painlessly as possible. Pleasure and pain remain as before but become more manageable, because direct knowing helps us to understand that we are not inextricably locked into particular conditions, and in turn leads to more compassionate and direct action.
'Compassionate action' is powerful, forgiving and for the highest good, like a sunrise that energises everything, regardless of what the thing was, or how it behaved the day before. 'Direct action' is immediate, like water that reflects light instantly, not pausing to ponder whether it should or shouldn't reflect the light.
Compassionate and direct action sometimes manifests in people during emergencies when thinking 'stops' automatically. In these situations people demonstrate heroic and even superhuman qualities. They do the right thing at the right time without 'thinking' about it.
In states approaching meditation, attachment to thinking falls away by observing how thinking arises and dissolves. Thinking, when needed, becomes more skilful. Action, when needed, becomes more graceful and free of selfish motives.
Direct knowing is another aspect of the intelligence that helps us to breathe and do all the other things we normally do 'without thinking'. It is an awareness of the peaceful silence out of which thought and action manifest.
The simplicity of peace is incomprehensible. To really 'know', you must become your own proof.
Tsunami and Tragedy
To come together to oppose a perceived threat or avert a disaster is a natural social response for civilised and evolved human beings. The tourists who stayed in Asia to help survivors and the many volunteers who have since gathered to offer aid have shown great courage and compassion. Our personal challenge for the future is to awaken these inner qualities permanently, to enable selfless action, even when there is no overwhelming threat or disaster.
In everyday life we are often unable to act selflessly because our minds are possessed by many selfish fears and desires. If true wealth is meant to provide a sense of complete and permanent satisfaction then it is only available by firstly doing good for others. This doesn't mean doing something good while hoping secretly for some personal reward. It means doing something helpful without expecting a personal reward.
This might seem quite paradoxical until we realise that we are part of the whole and not a collection of independent observers. If our lungs refused to give oxygen to our body, if our heart refused to supply blood, if any part of us refused to give to the other parts, then we would become very sick or die. Our heart doesn't wait for a negotiated settlement before it starts pumping. Neither do the parts ask for more than they need. Yet we often forget to be selfless until circumstances shock us into being so.
A disaster like the Tsunami can temporarily free our mind of its usual obsessions and compulsions. During a small window of opportunity we can have an insight. We can understand deeply, and not just intellectually, that our treasures, grand or small, are not actually ours. There is nothing that we can possess. No material thing is secure and free from dissolution. If there is any security then it is in having a peaceful mind, a mind that can let go of its losses, share its gains, and in the process create a better world for all.
By helping others through their tragedies we can learn how to deal with our own tragedies. In turn, each of our own tragedies provides us with an opportunity to grow in our compassion for others. If we feel helpless in overwhelming circumstances then we should still do something helpful for others, be it through a gift or a thought. If we feel we need help then we should seek help and still do something helpful for others.