Living in samsara is like climbing into the ring with Rocky Marciano or Muhammad Ali (is my age showing?). We may think that we have the best view of Madison Square Garden between punches to the gut and the head, but we can be sure that another fist is coming soon, and it may well be the one that puts out our lights for good.
Some of us are very experienced at rolling with the punches when they land, but not so much at handling the anxiety that mounts between the last cross to the liver and the next uppercut to the chin. We know it’s coming, and we know we’ll again have to roll with that punch, but we dread it.
Compassion is like that. Some of us are very good at keeping calm and helping other people during an obvious catastrophe, but in between the sinking of the Titanic and the crashing of the Hindenburg, we fall apart. It’s just too much. We can’t process the grief, and it slowly but surely weakens us, until some day handling a minor crisis becomes impossible.
This is why meditation is so important. When we rest in the empty luminosity, we release our pent-up emotions —the grief, the frustration, and the rage. And we recharge our battered, punch-drunk bodies with the strength to go another round:
“Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, hailing from the Pure Land, weighing almost nothing: the Subduer of Samsara, Protector of the Three Worlds, the almost-unbeaten… the Bodhisatva!” (applause; cheers)