Compassion, hummmm…


 I’m very excited, you see, Leonard Cohen is returning to Australia in November. I haven’t secured my tickets but I’m already in a mental cyber queue. I’ve had his latest CD on high rotation. ‘Old Ideas’, an amazing eclectic offering of songs that get you by the mental and emotional hot and curlies.
Here’s an example of the lyrics of last track on the CD:

We find ourselves on different sides
Of a line nobody drew
Though it all may be one in the higher eye
Down here where we live it is two

I to my side call the meek and the mild
You to your side call the Word
By virtue of suffering I claim to have won
You claim to have never been heard

Both of us say there are laws to obey
But frankly I don’t like your tone
You want to change the way I make love
I want to leave it alone

The pull of the moon, the thrust of the sun
And thus the ocean is crossed
The waters are blessed while a shadowy guest
Kindles a light for the lost

Both of us say there are laws to obey
But frankly I don’t like your tone
You want to change the way I make love
I want to leave it alone

I hope that you read that all the way through because it sums up many divisions taking place in the Western world. Men and women seem more divided and divisive than ever.  The current generation, in it’s 20’s, is the selfie generation and the older generation can only look on perhaps amused, or with muted horror, I’m not sure which.. Everyone is posting from their smart phone, photos and dubious news of themselves.  The narcissism that fuels the social media creates personalized pages and news feeds that leads further to the self aggrandisement of young, immature easily influenced youth. One of my yoga students called them FOMO’s, the Fear Of Missing Out Generation. But they are not the only ones hopping on the selfie bandwagon. Us older folk are just as deluded, with our desire for more stuff, better stuff, new stuff. We need bigger houses to store said stuff and spend our days busy acquiring the means to get more stuff.

I recently wrote about my colonoscopy and quite a few people have commented that I was so brave, or fearless in publishing such an intimate piece of writing. “Really,” I thought, “that surprises me.” The reason it surprises me is that I personally see it as a common medical procedure, that amounts to good preventative medicine and I wanted to encourage others to consider it, while being aware of how messy it is. To me it is not intimate.  Intimate to me might be sharing my sexual peccadilloes, my thoughts on points of philosophy and how to cook my favourite meal.  Medical procedures are not intimacies.  Another level of let’s just keep this too ourselves relates to illness. Many people don’t share that they are ill, have cancer or are suffering in some way.  I must admit I tend to let people know on a need to know basis about the details of my life and or health, for example when I hurt my back after an altercation with one of the Balmain breeder’s prams, I let my students know because as I swooped about the yoga classes I was obviously in pain and bent but we all gained from my experience; me, in compassion with regard to back pain sufferers and my students got, and still get, the benefit of practical back care knowledge acquired in my recovery.  Now I teach back care  and it works for everyone.

While I had the back pain I did conduct a social experiment, I told a few people of my  condition and they responded with, “Oh I’m soooooo sorry to hear that, give me a ring when you are well and we can catch up.” I replied, “Probably not, see ya round.”  I do understand that if you have never had a headache or injury you may not understand how debilitating they are, I heard one man say to his wife, “Just take the medicine, you’ll be fine.” His wife had a severe hormonally related migraine and he went off to golf and left her with 2 young children.

I have been tackling the problem, gender related behaviour and this is a mine field. I spent some time asking the opinion of a very intelligent man and he said he didn’t see any problem.  He said he saw some women as dysfunctional and some men as dysfunctional and of course the reverse was also true for him.  His logical mind could not or would not  extrapolate from his particular experience into the world of gender politics and the behaviours of men and women in general. Thought trained in logic I have no difficulty making a leap,  I notice that the division between the sexes is growing.  The selfie generation with its Hello Kitties, Instragram pictures, instant Twitter comments seems to have  developed a high opinion of itself that is not warranted and this puffed up self importance, makes intimacy really difficult.  The little ones want to appear glamorous, cool or tough depending on their peer pressure or environment. The next generation of breeders want stuff, like big mother load cars and McMansions. The retirees, the baby boomers want a bountiful, pain free retirement.  All I can say is good luck with all of that.

The older generation women are increasingly  spending their twilight years in the company of those who give a damn, their children perhaps and their girlfriends, men are no longer relevant, attractive, or necessary. Men die early due to their earlier excesses or live a single life hankering after admiration or younger women or both.

 The breeding generation are so busy getting stuff they forget who they are. The Selfie, young generation are, as always in regard to the young, self obsessed, it’s hormonal. But this generation has more access to technology to reflect back their own inflated images of themselves.  Very few of the teenagers I talk to have a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ but they have more besties than shoes.. They wonderer about in their hormonal haze doing god knows what as a mating ritual or not. I don’t want to know.

At a very fundamental level, Mr Cohen sums it up the Masculine thrust of the sun and the Feminine pull of the moon balance each other in the heavens while down here, where we live, it is rare to find a way to maintain a balanced relationship let alone a sexual relationship, where there is a balance between adventure and safety, a balance between familiarity and newness.  We want it new and fresh all the time.  If our mate or car gets shabby it’s replaced.  I wonder if any children will actually be bred in the up and coming selfie generation?

On this planet to live in some semblance of harmony we need to find a way into compassion, that is, really see how other’s live/feel and dispassion, the ability to stand back from events and not take them personally. Maybe the next generation of children will be the Selfless Generation. It comes in alternating waves. My parents were conservative, my generation the baby boomers were, in their youth, radical, self obsessed, hedonistic but radical. The baby boomers children are verging on conservative again, with the stuff obsession. So maybe the FOMO generation will be radical, but will it be destructive? Maybe even hedonistic like my peers? Can this generation of FOMO’s afford to be hedonistic with a disintegrating planet? Who knows maybe their tech savvy personas will find and offer solutions to the woes of global warming and a monetary economy that is increasingly failing.

On this note I see amazing grandparents, who know themselves, mainly women, giving generously of their time to their grandchildren, helping them learn, function and love and I see that as the way forward as it has been in times past, where the older hopefully wiser members of our society give of themselves and their love to the generation to come.  Solutions really could be long term, educative.  There is no one solution but smart children, who are educated to think, allowed to express themselves creatively and intelligently and appreciated for that would be a start. Children trained to think, decide and move well, may well realize that there is a future beyond this moment of a good selfie, .  My Zen Master was a man called Ernie. He taught people to train dogs, he trained people really.  He said,”Know what you want. If you’d get it, don’t get angry just ask for it again.”

From the deepest level of your heart ask, what do you want? What do you want this world to become? What do you wish your children to realize and create? Me I going to ask that compassion be taught to children and that we as grown ups, practice that with regard to each other and ourselves.  If you understood the heart of another you probably would hate them less.

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