Friday, February 24, 2006

Compassion & Wisdom

When I was in Katoomba last weekend, in the Blue Mountains, I saw this mural near where we parked the car and just had to take a couple of pics.

Detail, 1000 Armed Chenrezig
Originally uploaded by Other Andrew.

The Great Compassionate One, Arya Chenrezig, The Compassion Buddha.

I've always felt particularly drawn to Chenrezig, or Avoliketeshvara as he is also known. For Buddhists he represents the combination of compassion and wisdom. If 2 hands can give, and four hands can give even more, then imagine the practical works of compassion that 1000 hands could achieve. Within the palm of each hand is an eye, the wisdom eye, to symbolise wisdom combined with compassion. It's the wisdom of knowing what is the right thing to do, the wisdom of knowing when and how to exercise compassion for the greater good.

Compassion and wisdom are often referred to as the two foundation pillars of Buddhism, or the two wings of the bird. To emphasise that it is ineffective to have one without the other, resulting in dry wisdom that is empty of caring action or deeds that are compassionate in their inent but useless or harmfull because they aren't what's really needed.

1000 Armed Chenrezig
Originally uploaded by Other Andrew.

Sorry, a lesson in Buddhism 101 was not my original intention. I've had a rough past 24 hours and have been thinking a lot about Chenrezig today, and a lot about compassion and how helpful it would be to have 1000 wisdom eyes right now. I won't go into too much detail out of respect for their privacy, but people I care about are going through tough times right now and I'm not sure what to do.

Someone I care and respect very much went into hospital for surgery today. I've been thinking about her all day, and her family who are also very dear to me. I just want her to be well, and I want the worry to be lifted off of her and her family.

Also, last night just as I was heading home from a fun night out with Brendan and the A List Gays I ran into a friend who was at the pub. Someone I have known for about 16 years. We ended up having a long and very distressing conversation about his health. I've noticed a change in his ability to focus and hold a conversation over the past few years, and frequently he tells me the same anecdotes a number of times over. Sadly, he can feel his mental faculties slipping away on account of his medical condition. He's angry, scared, somewhat suicidal, and feels like he's losing what makes him him. It's starting to seriously impact his everyday living, and making some simple things like reading a book difficult.

We talked, cried, laughed and sometimes just sat holding hands, until after 2am. By the time we left he was in a much better headspace, and we walked home together through the quiet streets as a light rain started falling, just like old times.

I'm not sure that it's the right thing to do, talking about this here. Baring other people's secrets. It's a little selfish on my part, because writing this helps to get my head a little straighter. The challenge is to know what is the right thing to do, to do my bit to somehow, even in a small way, make these situations better.


Miss Eudoxia said...

Do as you are doing, be there for them. Keep your own energies positive and help them that way.
Just my humble opinion for what it's worth

Michael said...

Dude, I don't think it's selfish to write about it if you are clearing your head and seeing how you can help. I've never seen you but I feel you. You leak compassion and the fact that you're thinking before acting seems kinda wise. You've already helped and you'll help some more.

duane said...

I can't even imagine something with 1000 arms. That is wicked cool. I am still partial to my Ganesha statues.

Michael Guy said...

A thousand arms certainly ups the finger-fucking ante doesn't it?

Just 'be.' I find myself stumbling over my awkward emotions when facing friends who bare their hearts; I think it's wise to just be there. In the 'now'--with them. The physical presence means so very much. It's enough sometimes to just sit and hear the silence between true friends.

Mikey (The Lovely Ex) said...

I was in at work today (a Saturday...) and caught this post. I was away Friday as the person and family TOA is referring to is my mother and, well, me (and others) and I was with her in hospital yesterday. The good news is, she looks like she is going to be fine. I saw her again today and she was 200% better. I got a little teary reading this post and, I don't know why I'm sending this post, but I'm going to go with it. If anyone who reads this blog regularly (or even irregularly) ever needs someone who will accept them for who they are, be supportive but not stifling, be fun when required (and even when not) and be both compassionate and wise, then you could do a lot worse than our own TOA. In fact, I doubt you could do better.

The Other Andrew said...

Ah Mikey (t.l.e), you are the sweetness. Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad to hear that your Mum is 200% better today. You just can't keep a good Scottish woman down! Stronger than they look.

Thanks everyone for being so sweet.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

loverly post TOA :)

The Other Andrew said...