May All Beings Be Free From Suffering

Eight years ago this morning,  I was riding a Metro North train down to Manhattan when a conductor ran through the train with the terrible and surreal news that the World Trade Center towers had collapsed and that the Pentagon had been hit.  I knew about the two planes going in when I boarded the train but in a distant echo of the way so many other New Yorkers acted that day,  my instinct was to head towards the trouble.   When I heard the terrible news, I spontaneously began to say a Buddhist metta prayer for all the people I pictured falling to their deaths:  May you be free from suffering….May you be at ease.  I  wasn”t in denial.  It was one of those rare moments in life where the heart steps in and takes over for the head and all the distracting thoughts, fears, and sense of separation between myself and others came down.   It was as if my heart was with them, as if they were the same as I was.     My yoga teacher called for a moment of silence this morning, standing in mountain posture with our hands in prayer position.  I hadn’t even registered what it day it was.   At the end of the class, as we lay on our mats in silence, she asked us to consider the word “service” and the question (or questions) “How or what should we serve?”    This reverberated.  Up welled that experience on the train and that memory of how my heart opened and the walls of separation came down for instant.   I felt that I was part of a larger body–wishing that all beings be free and at peace, not just little me.  I think that knowing how and what to serve is best begun that way, letting the heart open to what is happening right here and right now.   More and more,  I find myself thinking about  service.   As Ram Dass once said, “What else do you have to do with your life?”

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