Good Morning! My name is Michelle Arellano and I am a licensed minister for Centers for Spiritual Living. I’m a professional, a mom, a spiritualist and a compassionate in training. I am honored to be with you here today. From the first time I stepped foot in here, felt the warm welcoming energy, and heard the powerful Reverend Norma speak in such a deep and eloquent way, I was hooked and appreciate you all! I am going to talk about Fierce Compassion today and share some stories, as well as some quotes, from one of my favorites, Pema Chödrön.
To start off, the title Fierce Compassion:
Fierce – (of feeling, emotion or action) showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity.
Compassion – sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. (Awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering.)
To speak to this personally, as I have been on a spiritual journey for a long time and as I started off, I really worked to do the right thing- to care, help, be kind and have compassion for others. I kept feeling like I was falling short and getting frustrated with myself and with others. As I continued on my journey I realized more and more that I had to have compassion for myself. I needed to love me unconditionally.
“Without loving-kindness for ourselves it is difficult, if not impossible, to genuinely feel it for others.”
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
That journey has not been easy, and I can say that at times I wanted to quit and go back to being less aware, but there was a pulse that kept pushing me to move forward. What I have realized is that to continue on a spiritual path, take self-responsibility and to love deeply, takes a fierceness to stay steadfast and move into those uncomfortable areas of our lives that scare us.
“Finding the courage to go to the places that scare us cannot happen without compassionate inquiry into the workings of ego…. Openness doesn’t come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well.”
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
Pema Chödrön is a beloved Buddhist teacher, author, nun and mother. Pema Chödrön has inspired millions of people from around the world who have been touched by her example and message of practicing peace in these turbulent times. The Pema Chödrön Foundation is dedicated to preserving and sharing Pema’s inspiration and teachings so that they might help us all awaken wisdom and compassion in ourselves and the world around us.
She has been an amazing teacher to me. She helped me have more compassion for myself, and an allowingness to be me- the good, bad, ugly and beautiful. Do you notice how you feel when you’re gentle with yourself, compared to when you are hard on yourself? A lot of times our self-talk is harsh and we would never allow anyone else speak to us like that. Why do we allow ourselves??
Visualization: SELF LOVE
“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.”
I have learned a lot on this journey, and a lot of times I went from heading in the wrong direction to finding the right one. For the longest time I thought my path was about only seeing the good and feeling the good. I worked to stay away from anything that was uncomfortable, negative or scary. I was not living fully, and I was not accepting me fully and so I couldn’t accept you or life fully. I did this for quite a few years, and that positive-affirmative space was my place. I feel now that that does have a place for me in my life, just not with blinders on. I developed a strong belief in creating my reality and allowing the universe to take care of the details.
That only took me so far- I avoided anything that did not fit in the box and I was hard on myself if things didn’t always work out for the positive. After working with some amazing people and guides in my life I started to look at the challenges and fears more- the challenges and fears inside me. I read a few amazing books, like Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, which spoke so authentically about the challenges that open our hearts. A book about a boy soldier in Africa called A Long Way Gone, literally broke my heart open and now is apart of my life’s work to support on a global basis. Many of Pema’s talks and books are so inspiring. She has this beautiful way about her and her teachings- to truly have compassion and love for all of ourselves and to know this is a journey that’s unfolding in the most divine way.
A brief story about my thoughts about being a minister: I thought that I had to become this eloquent speaker, and all the right words would flow from my mouth at the right time. During a retreat I had this big vision and I felt elated. I was crushed because I didn’t know how to become that person. That following day during meditation, I saw ME- with all my quirks and goofiness. To keep stepping and trusting God, do you ever feel like you need to have something else or be someone else to achieve your dreams? We are all that and more! Our lights are so incredibly powerful, and who we are and where we are is exactly apart of our divine plan.
I can’t stand here and tell you it was easy to face my fears and the fears of the world, but what I can say is that I am more whole now. The more I delve into my light and my dark, the more I know and love me.
“Bliss has not to be found outside, against sorrow. Bliss has to be found deep, hidden behind the sorrow itself. You have to dig into your sorrowful states and you will find a wellspring of joy.”
The New Thought teaching is empowering and self-responsible, and it teaches us that we create our reality. That is powerful and courageous, and I commend everyone. And with Norma as the minister, as she goes wide and deep and it is truly an enriching experience.
“When we are willing to stay even a moment with uncomfortable energy, we gradually learn not to fear it.”
I now invite everyone to close your eyes and feel into you… What are you avoiding right now or what needs forgiveness or love right now in your life? How can you face it or embrace it with compassion? And how can you possibly wrap love or forgiveness around it?
Just take a few minutes….
Pema’s latest book: When Thing Fall Apart
There is a fundamental opportunity for happiness right within our reach, yet we usually miss it – ironically while we are caught up in attempts to escape pain and suffering. Drawn from traditional Buddhist wisdom, Pema’s radical and compassionate advice for what to do when things fall apart in our lives goes against the grain of our usual habits and expectations. There is only one approach to suffering that is of lasting benefit, Pema teaches, and that approach involves moving toward painful situations with friendliness and curiosity, relaxing into the essential groundlessness of our entire situation. It is there, in the midst of chaos, that we can discover the truth and love that are indestructible.
I believe this is the work of a warrior. To truly look at all of ourselves takes great courage, a divine connection and a supportive community. We are so blessed for lives, for Unity, and our inner divineness!
In order to live the life of a spiritual warrior, staying connected and aligned is imperative. Ways for me to stay connected: nature, meditation, gratitude, compassion for me and others, surrendering/accepting what is, laughter, loving big, continuing to delve into me, eating healthy and taking care of me.
I am currently in the journey to completion with Norma. What a ride it is to look at all of me and to delve into what scares me. I am incredibly grateful for this challenging experience.
What are some of the things you do to connect, to help you feel whole, to have compassion for YOU?
I challenge us all to make this a priority… To take care of us, to stay the course with a fierce compassion for ourselves and to be passionate about it. It’s a priority and we are focused on loving all of ourselves. Like Norma spoke about last week, “Be grateful in our hearts for all that is good in our lives, and even consider being grateful for all of it.” This, in turn, helps us see and love others, like the Dalai Lama states, “Peace begins in us, then our family, then the community, then the world.” I believe peace, love, compassion and unity begin in us, then in the family, the community, and the world.
“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite, it actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
– Pema Chödrön
One of my all time favorite quotes to end with is….
“You are the sky, Everything else- it’s just the weather.”
Thank you for being your beautiful presence today, and allowing me to be with you. I am grateful and honored to be apart of this light filled community.
Abundant blessings to you! Namaste!