Sunday, January 17, 2010

Before the Earthquake

Yes, one person can make a difference, but extraordinary dedication and energy is needed in a place like Haiti. Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder is about Dr. Paul Farmer's years dedicated to helping the people of Haiti -- the poorest of the poor far up in the mountains. It is a double portrait -- of the misery that is rural Haiti and the dedication, intelligence and dogged perseverance of Paul Farmer.

It is very hard to take this kind of information into our minds even when we are simply reading and know we are not able to do anything about the pain in which others live day in and day out. There is a practice in Buddhism, when a meditator consciously tries to feel others' pain and takes it as his/her own in the hope of relieving what the others are suffering. My logical mind has trouble understanding that this could work at all, although I think I understand that one might wish to take on another's pain -- certainly when the sufferer is someone you love. Many spiritual practices baffle me. I believe those who practice such meditations are sincere but I wonder if it helps anyone at all. On the other hand I understand and admire the Paul Farmers, Albert Schweitzers, Mother Teresas of the world and am deeply grateful some people have the drive and ability to take on such work. Reading about what they do, even though they can accomplish such a small bit in the total, is inspiring and sustains faith that true goodness exists.


Kass said...

That's a well-thought-out, timely post. You are abreast of SO much information, it's a marvel.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Did you know, June, that there is a similar Catholic practice, where dying people "suffer" for others? Good post.


A timely account of how one can mindfully relieve the pain of others. Good book recommendation. -- barbara