Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 8:04am.
Last week, an acquaintance stopped by the corner accompanied by her friend who I've only known through Facebook posts for a couple months. It was the first time meeting him in person. We greeted one another cordially and I mentioned seeing some of his art posted on his page. He showed some art pieces to me while my friend explained to him about what I do at the corner asking about compassion and the Compassion Corner Earthbench there. He asked if he could film an interview with me and I declined. He then showed me some more of his art, suggesting that he lay a few of the pieces out on the bench and he would donate the funds to me for the upcoming Compassion Tour I'm planning. I declined. He then spoke sternly, calling me egotistical, that I thought I was higher than other people, and suggested I try humbling myself more and meditating. The energy of the words being shared shifted from being cordial to being angry.
I'm pretty equanimous. People come by the corner to experience the presence of peace which I contribute to the inner peace discovered within. Though most people express appreciation for what I do at the corner, a few people have approached me with anger and I can recognize when it's coming. When this man began to express anger and began to try to engage the ego, I went within to that peace that is always there in the heart of all human beings. I also remembered a couple phrases of wisdom:
"Defense is the first act of war."—Byron Katie
"Egos appear by setting themselves apart from other egos. Persons appear by entering into relation to other persons."—Martin Buber
I thought that perhaps I do need to further humble myself or meditate more often. I did find it unnecessary to defend the peace within or set myself apart from this man. Instead, I chose to simply witness him as a person who is expressing anger, not as an angry person. I remained silent and listened to his rant.
After packing his things, he went with our mutual friend across the street and had lunch. As he walked across the street, I closed my eyes, taking a moment to recognize how I was feeling. The inner peace remained intact. I then felt a deep sense of compassion for the pain he must already be in if he chose to feel as he did after being denied his requests.
I believe we are always given the opportunity to forgive by turning fear into love. While he was eating lunch, I remembered the other instances which people verbally attacked me at the corner and the feeling/outcome of remaining in a peaceful place of love throughout those experiences. It's a very comforting place, a physical sensation like coming out of the ocean and laying on the beach, surrendering to the warm rays of sunlight.
Something inside me told me he would return. After eating, he came back to the corner and apologized. He reached out to shake my hand. I gave him a hug and told him that I had already forgiven him.
As he walked away I felt a deep sense of appreciation for the experience. I felt a rising, visceral flow of compassionate energy flowing through me which I've felt a few times before while recognizing deep-seeded pain in myself and other people.
The experience made me think if inner peace, compassion, forgiveness, and appreciation can be a linear process in relations, being ever present toward healing and working as a constant feedback loop. The more inner peace, the more compassion—the more compassion, the more forgiveness. So on and so on, with appreciation leading back to even more inner peace.
I also thought that if you're already in a place of deep inner peace, whatever comes to you is instantly forgiven through compassion. Compassion recognizes the essence of suffering as fear and turns it into love to the point where one can turn arrows into lotus petals like Buddha or forgive your perpetrators while being crucified as Jesus did.
What do you think? I value other people's insights into how you think these all work together. Do share in the comments below.