Love and Compassion – The True Drivers of the Human Experience

The teachings of the Buddha dissect existence into fundamental elements. Contrary to René 
Descartes, this dhamma is not pure bricks and mortar, or pure materialism; it describes the 
make-up of all reality in a holistic, all-encompassing way.

“Love and compassion…are the ultimate source of human happiness, and the need for them lies at the very core of our being.” - Dalai Lama


From Prime Creator were birthed polarities from a field of compassion: Yin and Yang; Light and Dark.

We were born into this maya—this separation or illusion. The whole universe seems so real and finite to us, yet now many scientists believe we are part of multiple universes, a multiverse. The illusion runs even deeper into other dimensions, particles demonstrating intelligence, and holographic connectivity. Not just inside the universe—within our own bodies, we’re dancing with electricity.

“Each body is a universe, as good a universe as you could conceive.” - Swami Amar Jyoti

We are part of something so awesome, so inspiring, so massive and so fantastic!

Yet, so many, particularly Westerners, feel disconnected, fragmented, frustrated, fatigued, unsatisfied, unhappy, depleted, overworked, stressed and are suffering from sickness, are perhaps overweight and unhealthy.

Many people feel a spiritual hunger that is not being satisfied by their work, relationships, material ambitions or even just the battle to produce enough to sustain themselves. 

They feel far removed from our cosmic connection and destiny.

For many, life is like climbing an endless mountain and never reaching the top.

Or, more like the Greek myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus played tricks with the gods and was punished with having to push a rock to the top of a mountain, only to watch it roll back down again—and he was condemned to repeat this action forever.

Such spiritual disconnection and futility are deeply rooted within the collective unconscious. We resonate with Sisyphus as every day, we have the same routines and mundane tasks that stifle our creativity, we toil under the same often tedious, repetitive tasks and then have to >submit a yearly tax return.

For a peculiar reason of history, many kids grow up learning a dry ‘old’ science that highlights Newtonian physics and Descartean separation. René Descartes (1596–1650) was a French philosopher and mathematician who doubted most things, especially romantic and conceptual theories, and broke everything down to reductive conscious experience—“Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am).

Such thinking had its time. Now we know we are actually vibrational beings sparkling and exploding with energy and life-force—our very make-up is spacious and intelligent. We swim within a unified field of intelligent energies that surrounds us, fills us and the space between spaces. Even that which appears solid and hard is really stardust made up of energy.

Behind all creation, is a love that unifies us and reminds us of our true nature. To understand this love, is to understand all existence and dhamma. 

Even the story of Sisyphus can be turned into inspiration:

If the descent is sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy…The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” - Albert Camus

The experience of human suffering is richly textured and a part of the human journey. 

An examination of the Buddha’s life in service to humanity serves as an important source of understanding.

At 29, Prince Siddhārtha Gautama was called to escape the confines of his palace. He discovered a world of suffering. His spiritual journey thus began with a quest to end suffering.

Many life changes and spiritual awakenings occur when Saturn returns. Saturn Return is an astrological life threshold that brings restructuring, and often lots of difficulty and change.

(The planet Saturn reaches the same point in the sky as the time of a person’s birth and the person enters the next stage of life.) In Hindu astrology, a transition takes place every 7.5 years.

Gautama took his body to the limits of spiritual seeking and asceticism before accepting rice 
and milk and devoting himself to the Middle Way.

At 35, he received the gift of enlightenment and an end to samsara at the Bodhi tree. Gautama discovered certain universal truths and a way to cut through the illusion. 

Meditation is a huge aspect of this tradition.

An important aspect to Gautama’s practice is described as “the immeasurables”‘—(called the “Four Immeasurable Minds” by Thich Nhat Hanh)—love, compassion, joy and equanimity. The meditative form is like a prayer that calls out love:

1. May all sentient beings be happy.
2. May all sentient beings be free of suffering.
3. May all sentient beings never separate from bliss without affliction.
4. May all sentient beings be in perfect equanimity - free of attachments, prejudice and anger.

The teachings of the Buddha dissect existence into fundamental elements. Contrary to René Descartes, this dhamma is not pure bricks and mortar, or pure materialism; it describes the make-up of all reality in a holistic, all-encompassing way.

To walk the path of dhamma is to touch the loving field of energy in which we swim.

Ultimately it is touching the field of love and compassion from which we were birthed that is the source of happiness. All else is a reflection, an imitation or worse an idol. The true drivers that make us human are not money and acquisition of wealth—they are love and compassion.

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Originally Poe envisioned a parrot, not a raven

Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."

The Green Parrot by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Culture & Religion

By his mid-30s, Edgar Allan Poe was not only weary by the hardships of poverty, but also regularly intoxicated — by more than just macabre visions. Despite this, the Gothic writer lucidly insisted that there was still a method to his madness when it came to devising poems.

In an essay titled "The Philosophy of Composition," published in 1846 in Graham's Magazine, Poe divulged how his creative process worked, particularly in regard to his most famous poem: "No one point in [The Raven's] composition is rerferrible either to accident or intuition… the work proceeded step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem."

That said, contrary to the popular idea that Edgar Allan Poe penned his poems in single bursts of inspiration, The Raven did not pour out from his quivering quill in one fell swoop. Rather it came about through a calculative process — one that included making some pretty notable changes, even to its avian subject.

As an example of how his mind worked, Poe describes in his essay that originally the bird that flew across the dreary scene immortalized in the poem was actually… a parrot.

Poe had pondered ways he could have his one word refrain, "nevermore," continuously repeated throughout the poem. With that aim, he instantly thought of a parrot because it was a creature capable of uttering words. However, as quickly as Poe had found his feathered literary device, he became concerned with the bird's form on top of its important function.

And as it turns out, the parrot, a pretty resplendent bird, did not perch so well in Poe's mind because it didn't fit the mood he was going for—melancholy, "the most legitimate of all the poetical tones." In solving this dilemma in terms of imagery, he made adjustments to its plumage, altogether transforming the parrot — bestowing it with a black raiment.

"Very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven, as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone," Poe explained in his piece in Graham's. "I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven — the bird of ill omen — monotonously repeating the one word, 'Nevermore,' at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of melancholy tone…"

It was with these aesthetic calculations that Poe ousted the colorful bird that first flew into his mind, and welcomed the darker one that fluttered in:

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore…

The details of the poem — including the bird's appearance — needed to all blend together, like a recipe, to bring out the somber concept he was trying to convey: the descent into madness of a bereaved lover, a man lamenting the loss of a beautiful woman named Lenore. With that in mind, quoth the parrot — "nevermore" just doesn't have the same grave effect.

* * *

If you'd like to read more about Edgar Allan Poe, click here to review how his contemporaries tried to defame him in an attempt to thwart his success.

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