2021-12-26-A Year to Care
1:17AM Dec 27, 2021
This is a last Sunday talk for this year. And we get ready to welcome in a new year. And I remember that in 20, when we will be brought in 2920 20 that because of the, you know, this 2020 vision thing that some of us talked about, you know, this the year of clear seeing, maybe it was in some ways, but But now, I'm thinking about this 2022. And I would love it if it was the year of care, the year in which we cared. And it seems that it's particularly important at this juncture of human history, that more of us care. And it really makes a difference if we really come together all of us to care about so many things, we've learned this over the last year over the last decades to care about, they're worth caring about. And then I woke up this morning to learn that Desmond Tutu had died. And, you know, he was a very inspiring person, both because of his fight against apartheid, but also because of the phenomenal work with this truth and reconciliation process in South Africa. I mean, that was so inspiring. It's one thing to set a person, people free from oppression like he did, which is so important. It's another thing to come out of that and try to heal the society that was so divided. And probably South Africa wouldn't have managed so well, if it hadn't been for that truth and reconciliation process that inspired so many people in South Africa, even people who didn't go through it formally and you know, the proceedings they had, they just appointed a different way of being together. And, and, in thinking about what I was going to talk about today, I read about his little bit about his biography and, and it's an invention that that apparently he had polio as a kid, and he was his right hand was atrophied, because he couldn't use it. And also, when he was 18, he spent a year and a half in the hospital with tuberculosis. But there was a Episcopal priest who came to visit him and became his friend. And that's what set him in motion to become a priest himself, and that become the archbishop and then become such a big, you know, big influence on South Africa. And so, you know, he was a great person, inspiring person. But also we have remember that there was people who cared for the inspiring people, the people who believed believed in them enough so that they could move forward and into and become someone wonderful. And perhaps, you know, they say, they'd say, do you have care and possessing care. There's a story, traditional story from somewhere diverse ideas from the Middle East. Sometime in that time of Poland, there was a family that gave birth to baby girl. And as it was, there was a old wise woman who lived out the edge of town and she came to see this new girl that was born and she said, Oh, she's a wonderful girl for sure. And she will die on her wedding night. Well, so she grew up and she was a wonderful person, and she got engaged, she got married, there was a wedding. And then there was a wedding feast that evening. And the parents got up. They didn't tell anybody about this prediction. But they were kind of like little bit on the edge. You know, she's gonna die tonight. And so as a big feast, everyone was partying and feasting and dancing things and there came a poor beggar to the door of the party locked and asked us food and everyone should the person away No, no, no, no. But debride somehow saw was going on. And of all the people in the party was the one who went out there to give food to the beggar
The party went on, there was the wedding night, and everyone woke up the next morning and they were alive. So the parents went to find the old woman and said, what happened? We've been living with this idea that she was going to die. Oh, but there was one thing that we're gonna save her. And that was if she did an act of kindness on her wedding night. But I couldn't have told you that because then it wouldn't have worked. They wouldn't have been kind to have been done it, you know, for that purpose. So the act of kindness that save someone, the act of kindness that will save us the act of care that will save us what will we save through our care. And there's lots to be care about that. We know as I said. And now they say that in terms of the whole climate change that's happening, it's not a matter of stopping it. But now we are care can go into reducing the damage. And in some ways, that makes it easier. Because the idea of all or nothing, it's kind of hard to video that we can reduce it, each of us can reduce it and important away. Maybe by saving one life, wonder at the mall, life, anything, anything we can do to make it better to care. But one of the things that we save, if we care, is in fact our care. Maybe caring, compassion, kindness is one of the most important resources and that we have. And it can be lost. It can be forgotten, they can be submerged in despair, it can be lost in anger, it can be lost and all kinds of things and distractions in Netflix, but to care to let that beautiful to maybe what saved is our care, that counts. Who knows what our cares need to be needed for. There's another maybe Middle Eastern Near Eastern the story of a Sufi who some genie comes along and offers this this Sofia. One wish or two wishes are now young, because you'll decide whether it's one or two. So the Sufi wishes may I help everyone I come across wherever I go may be helpful to people. But may it be that I don't know that I'm doing it. That's so he's given this big bag, burlap bag to carry that's filled with seeds of fruit trees, maybe date the palms or something. And it has a little hole in the back of it. And so as he's carrying it in on his back for his shoulder, it slowly loses the seeds off the back, but he doesn't see them falling and he keeps walking as he wanders around his part of the world. And he doesn't see that the over the weeks and months and years after him. It grosses Pretorius at the benefits of people around him. So who knows? Just does your care need to have proof that you've succeeded? Is it enough to care? Can you care but sometimes we do get wonderful fruit sees the fruits of our care, and sometimes it comes back to ourselves. Maybe this is a very trite example, but it was a little bit inspiring they because it happened during retreat, the retreat center and so it's kind of everything kind of magnified a little bit there. So those of you haven't been there we have a little coffee tea area. And in the under the counter, there's a small little refrigerator where they have dairy milk, different kinds of milk things. And, and so one day I noticed that there was no milk there. So I went out of my way to go get milk bread unopened container and I put it in the fridge for someone who was going to come so I didn't think about it anymore. A couple of hours later, I decided to have some tea and to put some milk in it and I opened the refrigerator and there was a full unopened bottle of
beer Milk their person who had benefited was me. You know, I care, you know. So it's a silly example, right? But it comes around, but not I'll tell you. I'll tell you another way it comes around. That happened this week or so. So my mother is now in memory care home is now on hospice. And so is a week or two ago. And and so as all this kind of hospice care comes into play. So I received a call, I get it off coke phone calls now from the hospital, what kinds of issues and stuff and it's in front of a wonderful place, Mission hospice here in San Mateo. And so I got it from when these phone calls. This woman says, you know, I'm their mission hospice chaplain, and I'm getting ready to visit your mom. So that's nice. But turns out, the woman who is my mom's chaplain, was introduced to becoming a chocolate to chaplaincy. By doing the Buddhist chaplaincy training that I offer here at IMC, some 10 years ago, 11 years ago, she went through the training and learned about all this. And so I, you know, I was supporting her I wanted to, you know, it's a wonderful thing to train chaplain, some of you in the room have been in the chaplaincy program, I can see at least three or four of you, here. And, and, and so you know, I love doing it, I feel like it's a kind of pyramid scheme for joy, because people go out and benefit others. And then guess who fit the bill comes around. So that's, that's nice, you know, so who knows what our character what our carrier does in the world, maybe we don't need to know. But if he knows the good we can do that there's a similar story of Christian monastery. someplace that the few monks that were left in the monastery, were getting quite old, and no one came to visit the monastery anymore. And there was no one joining the monastery. It seemed like the monastery was just dying away. And they could see that then a few years, none of the monks would be left and what would happen to the monastery they'd reached. You know, it was kind of it has been a thriving monastery, in their youth, but it was kind of fading away. So the advert was still concerned about this, of course. And so it was quite perplexed and dhamma to go visit, this was supposed to be this very wise rabbi, the next valley over or something. And so the event went to the rabbi and said, you know, we have this issue at our monastery at Stein away and no one's coming. It's seems like it's, you know, it's coming to its end. But do you have any ideas of what we can do and what might revive it? And the head qi and talked about things? And the rabbi said, No, not really. I don't know about monasteries. And, but then the, as the as the abbot was leaving to go back home, the rabbi said, Oh, by the way, one of your monks back at your monastery is the is going to be the Messiah, the next Messiah or something. And so the abbot went back to the monastery and the monks there were they were kind of eager to find out what they learned. They all wanted to know, the device there. What advice they're going to give in the abbot said, Well, he had no advice for us. It didn't have anything to say. But he did say the strange things that I was leading. As I was leaving, he said, one of us is going to be the Messiah. And they said, Wow, that's strange. But then the next days and weeks, the monks was like, Well, you know, who could it be? Or can't be farther, Lawrence? He's always so grumpy. However, he's always helping. He's always at the right place when someone needs help. He's all right there to help. But could he be? No, no, maybe? Well, maybe. But what about father Joseph? Brother Joseph. He's just so lazy. He's just like, you know, to the his no one does less than him in the monastery. But whenever he does something, he's always so kind.
And then either went through the end everyone that like, you know, but could it be that person it could Be that person. And as they had these thoughts and recognize that each of them had something good going for them. They started treating each other with respect and care and reverence in a way that they hadn't, maybe hadn't done for a long time. So that was nice. But then one day, some young people from town came at a picnic on the monastery grounds. And they felt something. And they had little conversations with some of the monks and they felt something special to they came back. And they came back and more of them game. And then some of them joined the monastery became monks. And after a few couple of years, that place was thriving again, with young, dedicated, monastics. So care what happens when we care for each other, we respect each other, we revere each other. What are the conditions we put in place. And it doesn't take a lot of thinking that there are very different those are very different conditions, then being mean, being indifferent. But to be to care, to love to be kind, as if your care is important, as if you matter, that what you do. And maybe it doesn't have to be big. You don't have to become Desmond Tutu. But maybe it's that you cared about a neighbor you cared about someone who has a flat tire and you pull over to help them. You're saying that I remember once in Palo Alto, someone's car was stalled in either intersection. And woman, his car stalled, standing there wondering what to do. And it seemed like dangerous. So I got out of my car, parked my car, the side and I pushed it to the side seemed like a nice thing to do. Right? Or the right thing to do. And I haven't thought about it in 30 years, but there's now so to care. Who knows who we're meeting? Do you know the people you meet to know who they are and what their destiny is? Do you know anybody really? Who knows? Maybe they're like further Lawrence. Maybe they're the Messiah, maybe something special there. In 2013, some people cared for a 13 year old girl who was shot.
Two years later, that 13 year old girl received the Nobel Prize of Peace Peace Prize. Allah Allah, Joseph say, from Pakistan who would have known that the care of caring for her would have such a big impact. In 2018, a 13 year old teenager started skipping school. A year later, Forbes Magazine listed her as one of the most 100 most powerful women in the world. And she ended up on the Times magazine Person of the Year. And then was Greta Thornburg, who would have known
in 2020, as a 17 year old teenager working at the ball, the local mall changed America by taking the video with George Floyd dying, Daniela Fraser and then before that there was a teenager or girl who lived went to 13 different schools before she graduated high school. And then went on to be a single parent, cared for by friends and living on food stamps. What would happen to her? She is now currently the US Secretary of Interior
Inholland a Laguna Pueblo from Laguna Pueblo tribe
who knows who's out there, who knows who we meet. Who knows who you are. Some of these people are ordinary people. But who knows what comes through away
so all these things are, you know, maybe inspiring. Also a little daunting when you mentioned such great people who do such, you know, monumental things but maybe care, each of them, each of them needed people who cared for them. And the people who care, I think, don't have to know what the impact of their care is. Maybe care what's important about care is the caring. without much thought about long term impacts just get us take care to live a life of care
so how would you live if you lived as if your life mattered? How would you live if you really thought that you could make a difference?
And I think our lives do matter
that probably many of you know it's going to be a stereotypic idea now that you know in the holiday some people watch it's a wonderful life wonderful world so what is it we can all be George Bailey the man who didn't think that he thought anything good in life and was gonna jump off the bridge I commit suicide and then the angel comes right and shows him what his life what life Newtown would have been like if he hadn't lived at all. And it was awful. So here we are. We do matter each of us were important. So we ended up with Kuan Yin on the altar, to never actually been up there that I know of. It's kind of nice to have her there. Especially for this talk. And care, compassion and kindness. There's a story about Quan Yin. That sometimes there's quite those Quan Yin is said to have 11 heads, sometimes at the house in arms. And the story is that how she got those 11 heads and 11 arms. Apparently, she worked tirelessly to save people, you know, to just apparently one day she had everything all tidied up. Imagine that everyone was good. And then he woke up the next morning, and sure enough, people are suffering again. It didn't take long for the suffering to come back. And she did it again. But then the suffering game. And she saw the immense suffering of this world that seemingly she couldn't keep up with. And so I guess when English would say she was heartbroken, but her head burst had broken. And there Lemonheads and the 1000 Arms circus she can be even more effective and more helpful than help the world. And the 1000 arms are there because each arm has each hand as a different tool implement to help the world. So it's and she and she has all these heads to look everywhere. And I like this story a little bit because some of us are afraid of having our heart broken. Maybe the issue if it's difficult to have your heart broken, maybe you haven't had it broken enough. Maybe Maybe there's the Art of Letting a break really break. Maybe then you'll be corny and your heart will break had to 11 hearts. Or some people say that if your heart breaks into many pieces, it just has more surface area. In order to feel and sense and caring for this world I don't think we should be so afraid of having our hearts broken. I think that if we can learn maybe through the practice, we do the mindfulness practice, to not resist it, not be oppressed by it, not be afraid of it, not be submerged by it, not give up because of it. There's something, something about caring, in spite of the broken heart, something about a sense of dignity and value and presence. That allows us the heart to break and something kind of, to emerge from that. Caring for the world caring for others sensitivity, love kindness. Maybe if your heart is broken enough, what else is there but to be kind, what's left, if you do it thoroughly.
To the styles and arms and sort of dashboard, I think of the most of us hands that reach out and touch the whole world. And it's remarkable that we live in a world now that is, you know, it's kind of a also a stereotype or a cliche that the world has gotten so small. But I can't help but to keep thinking that is getting smaller and smaller in the way that what happens elsewhere in the world affects us. And what we do affects the world. I mean, there was someone apparently, less than two months ago, two months ago who got sick, with COVID in South Africa, was discovered to have this one person discovered to have this new variant. When did I care so much of what happened in a sick person in the other side of the world. But that one person from there maybe represented this word somewhere, it began and spread out across the whole world. And now the whole world is pausing in a certain way for Omicron. We have this invisible force, we don't see it in or normalize the virus. And it's the fact that it spreads and connects all of us all over the world. And what happens in South Africa, what happens elsewhere? has a huge impact on us. Can we just close our borders and just care for ourselves as if we can? That's enough. If we want to care for ourselves, I think we should care for others. It isn't just mothers going to nursing homes. Gavin chocolates come that we can experience the how it comes back to us. But it's also if we don't care for the world, don't care for others. Then what virus will come find us? I kind of love seeing people with masks on. And I'm troubled by it, of course. But I my assumption is that when people wear masks, that they're caring for me. And certainly when I'm wearing a mask of caring for all of you. And the fact that there's live in a room full of people with the care is visible. I think it's such a beautiful thing. Wonderful thing. Love made visible these masks. And as we care for others only wonderful thing about COVID Wonderful. Can we say the wonderful around it. The wonderful thing about COVID is that this simultaneous thing where if we care for others, we're simultaneously caring for ourselves. It's kind of represented by the masks the mask also we care for it's a way of caring for ourselves. You're protecting yourself with a mask, and you're protecting others through the mask. And so kind of like a situation where you get to have the benefits of both. You both get the benefit yourself and better care for yourself care for others. And so you might as well get credit for both. So don't just do it for your own sake. Don't just do it for other people sake do it for both. You get a lot more credit wherever Credit this stored I don't know where it is. In your heart, I think I think that's where their credit is. So you know, it's a beautiful thing to, to develop to grow this hard to expand this heart. Sometimes by breaking it and letting it grow it makes a difference, your care makes a difference makes a difference for you it makes different for the world
so perhaps just like the monastery, if everyone if we treat everyone as worthy of care worthy of respect, worthy or reverence, everyone
it is a care that I think will return and benefit us as well. Not least because it's good for our hearts, it's good for our inner lives, to treat people that way to see people that way. I think of it as myself, I think of that as the natural way of being. Anything short of that requires resistance requires attraction closing down, pushing away being selfish.
So the year of care.
I was thinking about this, I was thinking that some people have calculated that unless we do change something, a million species of plants and animals will be extinct within the next 100 years. So what will die if we don't care? Certainly care will die. Do you want to live in a world where there's no care? I'd rather live in a world that cares than anything else. And with our care, some things will die. And one of the things that will die is our selfishness. Would that be so bad? I think it'll be liberating to do that.
So 2022 May it be the year of care. And by the end of next year, you'll know whether it was a year of care if you cared you will be the proof of it. May you benefit this world and in doing so yourself.