Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Cactus Fence

Aruba has a dry climate with trade winds constantly blowing from the east. It is in fact a desert island. (Though it is definitely not deserted!) Outside of the tropical landscaping in Tourist Central, the landscape consists of 3 species of cactus and the invasive and thorny acacia shrub.

While driving around the island, we saw cactus fences, which look very good at keeping something out (wild goats or wild donkeys) or something in.

We all know prickly people whose main mode of protecting themselves is thorny comments and stinging judgments. People who bristle easily. People for whom aversion is their predominant defense against the world and their own suffering.

It took me several decades to recognize my own bristly tendencies and to commit to taking down my own inner cactus fences. A much more useful form of protection is loving-kindness, because metta deals with the fear that underlies the felt need for protection. After all, what are we protecting ourselves from? A perceived danger.

It turns out that bristling, thorns, and stings just perpetuate dissatisfaction rather than relieving it.

Let's build our open-gated fence with kindness and compassion.

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