Walking with Bodhisattvas in New York City

Throughout the day, we will see hashtags saying #neverforget on all our social media. 

And yet this is the day New Yorkers most want to erase. Walking along the eerily silent streets eighteen years ago, the dust in the air touching us, nudging us to comprehend the countless tragedies of the day, and the days to follow. Something that was incomprehensible before, has changed our understanding of our place in the world, of each other, and how to live with grief.

Humans tend to do something extraordinary when we face atrocity. We reached out to each other again, not to numb or forget, but simply to touch, sit with, talk, and hold. To help, to support. To balance out our perception of the darkness in humans with the remembrance of the light within us. 

Because like hurt children, even as adults we reach out for love, for reassurance that the pain goes away. We learn to parent ourselves and others with compassion, and we soothe the hurt as best we can. And eventually we have to make a decision: what do we do now with the current reality and our grief? 

As we walk this line, I think of the Bodhisattva, a revered figure in many schools of Buddhism. 

For buddhists, the ultimate goal is attaining Nirvana, a peace grounded in clear perception and understanding that is impenetrable by what we see in the real world.  Buddha is the icon representative for such a state. The boddhisattva can attain Nirvana but postpones their own enlightenment into buddhahood to stay in our realm of reality with one purpose: to aid and see all of life released from suffering.

One of the most recognized bodhisattvas is known as Guan Yin or Avalokiteśvara, an incarnation of unconditional compassion and forgiveness. If you’ve seen figurines of an Asian goddess with a hoodie and flowing robe holding a vase, then you’ve seen this popular depiction of her.  This divine being listens for cries around the world and comes to the aid of those who cry. Mothers pray to Guan Yin to protect their babies. The desperate pray to be released from their troubling circumstances. 

As the stories go, no cry is unheeded, no matter who the crier is. Merciful attention is always brought to a situation that creates such misery, and to relieve suffering. The bodhisattva will continue to work and spread their message of compassion to raise the vibration of humanity so that we no longer hurt each other. 

So we may never forget this day, but we can continue to move forward with forgiveness and compassion. Forgiveness is not forgetting. A bodhisattva does not ignore the suffering of the world. Instead they made the choice to stay in this world with the faith that one day, every single one of us will be able to see the light.  They work only with the promise of potential. 

For those who walk consciously with forgiveness, we walk in the shadow of these divine beings, who reflect the innate spark of joy and love in human beings. 

To all my walking bodhisattvas, I offer this loving-kindness prayer: 

May we be happy and free
May we be free of suffering
May we be safe 
May we be healthy 
May we walk in love
May we know we are loved
May we know our power
May we know the ease of well being
May we enjoy peace
May we all be happy and free

Repeat. Walk. Repeat. Walk.

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