what to do in a catastrophe

13 01 2010

In Buddhism, we have several practices to help ease the pain and suffering of others.

They are called things like Tonglen, and Maitri, and Lovingkindness.

In all of these practices, one places one’s awareness and thought and heartfelt feeling on another person and their situation.

We imagine the details of what they are going through and try and really feel it, and then send them our own sense of well-being.

As best as we can, we close the gap of emotional distancing inside ourselves that we often create to make ourselves feel safe or protected or to maintain our good mood.

We aren’t afraid to maybe not feel so chipper in the light of the often massive scale of the kind of suffering others have to go through on a daily basis who live in the realms of the world where poverty, sex trafficking, genocide, war and natural disasters take place.

The point is not to be overwhelmed. The point is to let your heart really genuinely break for the specifics of other sentient beings conditions.

To feel deeply for others and send them our wish for their suffering to cease, is a natural aspect our our good human heart/minds.

This moment of castrophe in Haiti gives us that opportunity.

As Nicholas Kristoff tweeted this morning, “Today we are all Haiti.”




3 responses

13 01 2010
Martha McPhee

Thank you. Very wise and thoughtful.

14 01 2010
Kate T.W.

Yes. Today we are all Haiti.

9 02 2010
Michael Stagg @ Dharmapreneurâ„¢

This is a great post. I make it my business to practice lovingkindness as often as possible. It helps me connect to others in a way I never knew before.

When you realize that you are connected to every other being on the planet it’s hard not to feel what others are feeling especially in cases of large scale disasters such as the quake in Haiti.

Yes, we are all Haiti just as we are all Africa, America, Mexico, Iran/Iraq or any other land on this planet. In short, no one is separate from anyone else. We all can experience each others joy just as we all can experience and provide comfort during times of extreme anguish.

Love is the ultimate agent of healing. We all should do what we can to send as much love as we can (prayers, supplies, medicine, etc.) to Haiti.

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