One Sunday evening a few weeks ago I was on the train headed for Shibuya, looking forward to seeing a friend of mine. It would be a brief meeting of only an hour as we both had other plans that night. I was running late, so I sent my friend a text that I’d be five minutes late. “OK” came the reply.
When I arrived at the venue my friend wasn’t there, so I began chatting with a stranger. I texted friend again, “Hey, I’m here…” About 10 minutes later, he showed up. We greeted each other and I introduced him to my new acquaintance. Friend said he had a small errand to run, and would be back in a few minutes; I was fine with this. I kept chatting with the acquaintance until she left.
Now I was alone. More time passed and I wondered where my friend was. I walked around the rendezvous spot thinking, “Ready to hang out. Where are you?” It was now about 20 minutes into the hour. “Ugh, I’m bored. Come on!” With growing impatience I phoned him; no answer. Then came a text about a business transaction of some sort. “Sorry… can you wait? I should be about ten minutes.”
A wave of resentment filled my chest; I felt torn between wanting to see my friend and ejecting ASAP. I realized that this hurt was out of proportion to what was actually happening… yet I couldn’t shake the feeling. I was disgusted by this wet blanket dampening my spirit.
Finally I left the store, wandered up the crowded street, and leaned against a lamppost. Watching the hundreds of passers-by minute after minute, I waited for my friend to call. But in this foul mood I didn’t want to see him anyway. What a wretched feeling of disappointment! Again, I realized that this flood of pain was not really connected at all with my present-moment situation. Was I free, or was I not?
In my mind I knew everything was fine and I had no reasonable complaint. But somehow, the emotionally inflamed part of me (some would call it ego) was trying to hold onto the drama of a hurt little boy. Indignation alternated with contentedness; I tried to examine the physical and emotional sensations in detail. Right there on the street corner with its flowing river of humanity, I was engaged in a yogic battle.
“What am I doing here, anyway? Why am I alive? What is this all for?” I ran my awareness through my body and felt my breathing and heart beat. I knew very well it was my choice how to interpret this situation. In fact everything was phenomenal in the moment. “Look at me—I am in excellent health with so much to appreciate. Why the hell do I feel so bad?” I closed my eyes, put my hands over my heart and took a deep breath. Yes, of course, there was nothing wrong.
As I looked into the faces of the people walking by, I started to wish them well. “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from suffering.” I silently radiated my intentions for wellness and peace into their hearts and minds and bodies. Any individual who came in my line of sight—I noticed their gait, their clothes, their attitude. “May you be happy… May you be healthy… May you be successful… May you be free from suffering.”
And then I remembered the missing Malaysian Air jet with its 239 passengers and crew. There I was standing in Shibuya feeling all out of sorts, merely because my friend was temporarily out of touch, while at the very same moment there were probably hundreds of people in a devastating state of grief across Asia. I tried to imagine the loss of a loved one.
“OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!”
“Where is my husband?
“Where is my wife?
“Where is my boyfriend?
“Where is my girlfriend?
“Where is my son?
“Where is my daughter?
“Where is my mother?
“Where is my father?
“Where is my brother?
“Where is my sister?
“Where is my uncle?
“Where is my aunt?
“Where is my cousin?
“Where is my grandfather?
“Where is my grandmother?
“Where is my boss?
“Where is my employee?
“Where is my co-worker?
“Where is my neighbor?
Suddenly, the missing plane was massive in relation to my little feeling of hurt. This put things into perspective.
I continued scanning the faces of the people walking by, radiating compassionate wishes for health and happiness, then expanding my awareness to include the people directly affected by the plane tragedy. “May they be free from suffering… may they be comforted and supported… may they quickly come to closure… may they find joy in life again.” And then I thought about the people who had been on the plane itself—how long did their suffering last? “May they be at peace, whole, embraced by the light.” And then I thought about all the millions of suffering persons on this planet Earth right now, feeling the pain of addiction, disease, torture, rape, mental illness, poverty, racism, oppression, and on and on… “Right now, in this very moment, may they all be relieved of their suffering…”
Right now, in this moment, who or what would benefit from your pure compassionate love?
© 2014 Patrick D. Mitchell