31 August 2008

Through the Cracks

A couple weeks ago, I went out to the back deck to find J hunched over a tiny insect, very focused. As I got closer to see what was going on, J told me that there had been a large spider web and that he had pulled the insect off the web to free it. Though initially what seemed a good idea turned both of us inside out as we were left to watch the insect unsuccessfully struggle to break from the web that had encircled it.

Is the act of compassion rescuing the insect, or is it limiting its suffering?

Before we made up our hearts, the insect fell through the cracks in the back deck.

I think the true nature of compassion is to remain detached from your own feelings. More than anything, I wanted that insect to live, but that insect, I realize now suffered more because of our actions, despite the fact that our intentions seemed noble. Buddhism teaches us that all beings want to be free of suffering and that true compassion takes strength to cultivate. Our own feelings of rescuing and freeing the insect interfered with what was the more compassionate decision.

I've remembered that beetle every single day since that incident.

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