The creator of Malaysia was like a turbulent child who had picked up their 2b pencil and gone crazy. This is what they drew; crooked lines and potholes, derelict houses and rough-hewn gardens, uneven footpaths and open sewers. They got out their coloured pencils and drew the clothes and dirt, the mangy dogs and plastic plates, the squatting and smells and then scribbled over the whole lot with big messy strokes. They then dumped rubbish everywhere.
Deeper into the chaos the artist had added their master stroke, a woman carrying their teenage son on her back, his body crippled or paralysed. Her love holding up the whole world in the heat and filth.
I suddenly wanted some hand sanitiser. I wanted to pick up the dogs and feed them. I wanted to spray air freshener over Malaysia. I wanted to get out an eraser and clean up its act. My white rose-coloured glasses were steaming over. I wanted to run back over the border carrying the dog and the child and the mother.
Empathy, do you feel it? Can you stare at the suffering of others or do you want to turn your back on it? How do you react to suffering? Do you put money in the donation box for the African child but shun the suffering of that which is right in front of you?
Buddha’s first teaching. Suffering is life. We deal with it by rejection. We show the door to that which we don’t like or want and openly invite into our vision only that which is soft and pink and warm.
Practice for today: Stare down the barrel of the things that cause you pain or suffering. Look at it under a magnifying glass. What is it that is causing you the pain? What are your emotions behind what you see or feel? How can you invite into your life what you don’t like with the same ease as the things that you desire?