On Friday evening I went out to the cinema and saw Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van. I'd read the book years ago and was looking forward to the movie. I was not disappointed. Like many in the audience I was, at times, moved to tears. As ever, what moves is the depth of humanity, our care of and compassion towards each other; true love. Bennett found the homeless woman who lived in a van on his drive for fifteen years a troubling and difficult woman. He was not captivated with the joy of a delightful encounter. Yet there is obviously recognition of and care for another human being. Caring for those that are far from easy to be with because that is what the situation requires, because our basic humanity, our heart mind, knows that this is the only way to peace, (peace of the heart irrespective of the mind) this springs from the enlightenment that gives life meaning. The story starts in 1974 and something of the times comes across. But it is not nostalgia that moves us, although it is hard to see it unfolding in the same way, if at all in this day and age. What we are touched by I think, is the knowledge that at the root of life is a sadness. It more than dukkha it's that some part of us also knows that we long to love, to transcend our all too human failings and reside in the unconditional love that holds all experience. We sit between heaven and earth, samsara and nirvana two sides of the same One.
I returned home from the cinema to the news of events in Paris. Hundreds killed or injured by terrorists. People who like me had just gone out to enjoy their Friday evening. The number of people who's life is now filled with pain and suffering as a result of this even higher; those who love those killed or injured have also be injured. We are not separate. I'm filled with sadness.
As I write live news headlines are of 'massive attacks on Isis'. I'm torn. I feel anger at the hideous acts by Isis and I want them stopped. I see that there is no negotiating with what seem like madmen. Isis seems fueled by layer upon layer of delusion. There is no rationalising with that. We have to do something. And I'm concerned that actions springing from anger don't have clear intentions. Something needs to be done. It needs to be motivated by the heart. It is difficult. When we forget that we are all connected, when we disappear into our own experience of pain and seek salvation in the suffering of what we think of as other we lose our humanity. Yet we can't reside solely in a space of unity. We are both interconnected and separate, both One and many. We must act with care.
The merit of this post is offered up for all those affected by the events in Paris on Friday night.