One day, after I completed my morning meditation, my thoughts flew to people suffering around the world, and my heart broke open. Suddenly, into my mind came a person whom I often struggle to include among the beings I cherish in my daily prayers. To my great surprise, I did not turn away. My heart did not shut this person out. I felt great compassion, and this prayer welled up in my heart, “May they be happy, may they be at peace.” Not for one moment did I wish to take it back, nor did I feel pride. I simply felt loving-kindness and compassion overwhelming me. I felt such joy that I wished everyone could have the opportunity to pray this prayer, “May they be happy, may they be at peace.”
I then posted the prayer on my Facebook page. While I was astonished at the amount of negative feedback I was receiving, for a brief moment, I immediately saw myself in these responses. Until this day, I hadn’t had the gift of dropping my aversion to this being. I, too, could not have imagined being so tender when I felt that this person would never be the same towards me or those I call my tribe. But today, I found my wish for their happiness did not require reciprocation. I must say, it was an unexpected joy to have love arise within me without expectation of its return. Most astonishing of all was the sense of joyful freedom that came with letting go of my aversion. It felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from my chest. I witnessed the truth of how my own happiness is inextricably tied to the happiness of others. When one of us is suffering, we cannot live untouched by that suffering. A sincere wish to alleviate suffering in others is disarming, and peace can prevail in the space created by that sincere wish.
This transformation of heart was not the result of reason. It was a result of the peace of meditation. While my mind wanted to sail off into how, why, and what the heck following this prayer, I see that the ground upon which the seed of compassion flowered was inner peace.
So, this prayer not only wishes an end to that person’s suffering but contains the unspoken awareness that when this person is at peace, when we are at peace, when I am at peace, enmity ceases. When we have inner peace and calm abiding, we can see ourselves in one another, and we do unto others as we would have done unto us. We wish an end to suffering for all the world. This prayer is how a peaceful and just society can be achieved: By loving one another as ourselves. When we touch into the profound peace of the soul, life shines anew.
May every one of us be happy. May every one of us be at peace.