We all know that women read as men and women write as men, because that’s how we were taught. We were trained to read as men. Little girls read the books that boys read, but the boys never read the books with little girl heroines, and so women are taught to read westerns and spy novels and mysteries, and the ‘serious’ literature, but we also read ‘women’s literature,’ watch soap operas, read romances, read women’s mysteries. But men aren’t taught to read women. How and why do we break with this gender socialization? Isn’t the departure as significant as establishing the criteria? Reading affects the development of female and male identity. I, for one, define my life and construct my identities through the process of reading and writing—dyke detective novels, cultural theory, Latin American fiction.
Gloria Anzaldúa, “To(o) Queer the Writer: Loca, escritora, y chicana”
This is what you don’t do.
Don’t let this world make you bitter. Don’t let the actions of other people turn you cold on the inside. Certain things happen that hurt us, people come that leave us, and most of all there are moments when you’re bound to fall. Don’t let those things make you unkind. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad. But it’s never okay to do other people wrong just because you were done wrong. We’re human. We break. We make mistakes. But don’t let pain and sadness run your lives. Wake up in the morning and do what you think is right. There are moments in your life where you feel like giving up and you can’t take it anymore. It’s okay. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. I know you’re weak. But the things that show your weak side are also the same ones that make you stronger in the long run. It’s all about taking whatever life throws at you and learning from it.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters
of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you,
they belong not to you.
You may give them your love
but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies
but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward
nor tarries with yesterday.
“The ego’s greatest trick was convincing you that it
does not exist by disguising itself as you (through unconscious identification
with it); in order to avoid being discovered.” ~Anon I mus (Spiritually Anonymous)
To practice mindfulness is to become alive. Life is so precious, yet in our daily lives we are carried away by our forgetfulness, anger and worries. We are often lost in the past, unable to touch life in the present moment. When we are truly alive, everything we touch or do is a miracle. To practice mindfulness is to return to life in the present moment.
Practicing mindfulness, we see the suffering that is caused by the destruction of life everywhere, and we vow to cultivate compassion and use it as a source of energy to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. When we see suffering, compassion is born in us. It reflects the Buddha’s first sermon, that we have to be in touch with suffering.
It can be said that there are two kinds of suffering. Perhaps ninety-five percent of the suffering we endure every day is not at all necessary. Because of our lack of insight, we cause suffering to ourselves and others, including our beloved ones. But the remaining five percent is born out of contact with the real suffering around us and inside of us. To be aware of this kind of suffering brings about compassion, the energy necessary to transform ourselves and help relieve the suffering of the world.
Do not lose awareness of the suffering that is going on in the world. Nourish that kind of awareness by whatever means possible: images, direct contact, visits, and so on. We have to do that in order to keep both the awareness of the suffering and compassion alive in us. But experiencing too much suffering is not good. Any medicine must be taken in the proper dosage. We need to stay in touch with suffering only to the extent that we will not forget. Then compassion will flow within us and be a source of energy that we can transform into action.
People often use their anger at social injustice as a basis for action, but that is unwise. When you are angry you are not lucid, and you can do many harmful things. According to Buddhism, the only source of energy that can be useful is compassion, because it is safe. When you have compassion, your energy is born from insight. It is not blind energy. With compassion, we practice in order to learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. Just feeling compassion is not enough. If we do not know how to help, we can do damage. That is why love must go together with understanding.