Even ordinary people like us, with our confusions and neuroses, are never far removed from an enlightened mind. It lies behind accustomed clouds, like the open sky above us.
Under the hardness of familiar defenses--resentment, anger, blame and fear---is the tenderness of the broken heart that connects us to each other and to compassion-- the same source that is God. The ache of a broken heart becomes a blessing when it is accepted. We can open ourselves to it unconditionally in a spontaneous moment of joy, or we can make the conscious choice to open our minds to suffering, without giving in to the urge to protect ourselves. By practicing meditation, loving-kindness, prayer, joy and equipose, we can find our compassion behind the hardness of rage, the heat of shame, or the uncertainties of fear or loneliness.
Many of us come into program relating like timid birds afraid to leave the nest, a smelly nest that hasn't served us in a long time. We might not want to admit it, but we're secretly hoping for a mother bird to come back and protect and keep us warm, and feed us spiritually.
It takes courage to come out of the nest. We might need helpful hints about becoming an adult. We may doubt our ability, but we ask ourselves what we prefer: to grow up and live on life's terms, directly, or to live and die in fear?
The enlightened heart is in each of us as we face our daily pain with openness and willingness; it will support us in good times and in bad, and reveal a wisdom and courage we do not know we have. It can transform every activity, word or thought into a means for activating our compassion, if we but let it.
We don't have to change or control our vulnerable emotions, we have only to allow them to teach us compassion and enduring strength.