Saturday, January 23, 2010

Knitting The Giant Rumpled Sweater of Humanity

Everywhere you go these days there is talk and relief efforts being directed toward the situation in Haiti. Over at Full Contact Enlightenment I was touched by a quote posted a few days ago. "The misery of millions is not a cause for pity. Rather it is a cause for developing compassion." His Holiness the Dalaï Lama

It reminded me that this arising of compassion is so natural when we see suffering in the world. If we remember not to turn away, if we can step outside our own small worries, we cannot help but feel the tug to help. You can see this as people everywhere watch the news and respond by opening their hearts and wallets. In situations like this people go to amazing and creative places to offer food and supplies, and prayers.

It is interesting to watch because not only does it help those in need and trauma but it brings people together, it knits us into a tighter community with a common cause. We become a giant, slightly rumpled sweater of humanity offering warmth and comfort to those in need. And in our helping, our hearts open, our spirits are lifted and we experience our "Buddha nature". We feel generous and alive and connected to our human family. And as the Dalai Lama points out we experience compassion.

A fellow Vancouver Islander and Etsian, Sarah over at Kooandpoppet, donated 50% of her sales for a period, from her cute and quirky little handmade creatures, to Haiti. Great idea! So this coming week I will do the same over at my Etsy shop. Also locally, in Victoria, there will be Multi faith prayers and donations at Christ Church Cathedral on Monday at 4:30 pm. And an email arrived today from a friend about a group called Shelter Box. Check this out. 11 plastic tubs make a temporary hospital. One box provides shelter for 10 people.

And so again the question arises for me, do we have the strength to open our hearts and be touched deeply by what comes to us. Can we look inside and ask "what is it good to do", rather than flip the channel or turn away and feel overwhelmed. I think this is what it means to live the Dharma.


  1. Thank you. You've been very fortunate recently to be aware of compassion on seemingly different levels, involving this " large scale", as well as the "small" with your friend in the motor home and, last but not least, the "personal" with your own potential homeless/wandering state (so I gather from recent posts). The more we're different the more alike we are.
    In gassho and best wishes,

  2. Hi Carole,
    very true - an instinctual and global surge of compassion, and a dose of perspective; a reminder of what really matters in this busy life.

    I've stumbled upon this truly beautiful relief effort:
    just thought I'd spread the word and the art!

    Best of luck with your Etsy benefit!


  3. Beautiful post and love the image of the knitting sweater:) I talked about it and your benefit in my blog - hope it is ok with you.


  4. a moving metaphor on how we are all connected at some universal level- knitting the sweater--to help and care about what is happening all over the world. hope your benefit is very successful.

  5. Hello,

    I wanted to see if you would be interested in having your blog added to the Zen Community, an aggregator of Zen Buddhist blogs that I operate at

    Please let me know if you are interested.

    (If you are interested and reply, please remind me of your blog url in the e-mail as I am contacting a number of blogs today!)

    Al Jigen Billings

  6. Have you checked out There's a book too. I was reflecting today on how we can also use the concepts of the dharma to turn off rather than turn on. (That's a little snippet in tomorrow's post.)

  7. I will have to check out the knitting sutra although the only thing I ever really knitted was a map of Manitoba, complete with Lake Winnipeg (read hole) in the middle.

    I look forward to that post! Yes we twisted little humans we get up to all sorts of things! I'm thinking about blind spots(that we all have) and honesty and willingness to really look at the not so pretty parts of ourselves. And then there's just our confusion. Oh man, I think you've got a couple of posts there!