The Building Blocks of Kindness

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”  ~ C.G. Jung

Today, the Sixth Day of the Omer, is the day focused on yesod, balanced foundation and the interpreter of all those abstract ideas of the more profound mystical spheres into something practical.

How do we bring the idea of universal loving kindness into our minds as a "doing" instead of a "thinking" or "feeling"?

All actions start with a spark within us - even our on the spot reactions are rooted deeply inside. To consciously bring compassion and loving-kindness from our best selves into the world of action requires conscious balancing and internal negotiating - the job of that foundational interpreter, yesod.

A solid foundation takes an uneven footing on the earth to create a level place for a building and yesod helps us build a solid place within our minds to bring constructive and kind actions into the world.

Day Thirty-Eight of the Omer

Tiferet in Yesod - balanced harmony and beauty in a solid foundation.

These two concepts are picture perfect, precisely honed, needle in a haystack, ideals. I am often intimidated by an ideal - can I really push for that thing that is so far out there, so beyond my capacity?

I recently read a beautiful Hasidic teaching that helps me with a lot of problems: the world is finely balanced between, on the one hand, creative deeds and thoughts, and on the other, destructive deeds and thoughts. Every positive thought and deed that we muster contributes to the leaning of the world toward greater creativity and repair.

The ideals of balance and wholeness are meant to be difficult to reach - they are ideals after all. In reaching for them we make a difference in ourselves and all of creation, because all of the quanta matter.

Day Thirty-Seven of the Omer

Gevurah in Yesod - rigor, discipline, and strength in a solid foundation.

Building anything lasting, starting with the ground up, requires discipline. This applies to relationships as well as construction projects.

I have actually managed to ride bicycles to school with my son twice this week - and what a joy. This didn't happen all at once.

The first time Jude and I went for a long bike ride it ended in his tears. That was more than two years ago. Since then I worked with Jude, when he asked, on his bike riding. I often ran miles along side his bike when he dropped the training wheels to help him to gain confidence, listening to his requests for help. Eventually, he became a confident and accomplished cyclist, and did so at his own pace.

Jude's capable cycling is his accomplishment, and I couldn't be prouder. I am grateful that I took the time to step back and be his assistant.

Sometimes rigor is self-control that needs to be used in order to participate in the building of a foundation that lasts.

Day Thirty-Six of the Omer

Chesed in Yesod - loving kindness in a solid foundation.

I like to hope that society will eventually recognize more fully that compassion is an essential element of civilization, and an expression of fairness as well - that is, establishing equal compassion to all peoples makes a society more fair.

Civil rights, marriage equality (which is a civil right), promotion of the full franchise (see the Daily Show's coverage of India) - these basic understandings of sharing space with our human companions and acknowledging their common humanity with our own make us civilized.

Compassion and kindness start a solid foundation so that it holds all who need to be a part of our project. Build sensibly, fairly, and include kindness.

Day Twenty-Seven of the Omer

Yesod in Netzach - a solid balanced foundation in the long view persistent.

Building something to last needs a solid beginning. We have been building to the moments that turn into lifetimes in this country when we make marriage possible for everyone.

I am so proud and honored to be part of multiple communities who put compassion and family first, and support and advocate for LGBT inclusion and same-sex marriage.

I am thrilled when I see an openly gay football player kiss his boyfriend in joy and celebration at being drafted into the NFL.

Take the time and effort to build something from the ground up so that it will become lasting. Aim for eternity, and start on the ground.

Day Twenty of the Omer

Yesod in Tiferet - a solid foundation in the balance of compassion and rigor.

High ideals and values - caring and justice, self and community - can often dominate my thinking when at some point I must entertain how the thing actually applies - where is the solid footing of my grand plan?

As a person who spends much time deliberating, turning those deliberations into something that can be concretely implemented often comes as a wake-up call.

So, aim high and think deeply, and then embrace the need to have a foundation, a connection to the ground on which the plan will happen, we hope.

Day Thirteen of the Omer

Yesod in Gevurah - a solid and balanced foundation in discipline and the exertion of power.

Keeping in mind solid footing before extending ourselves changes our outlook on strength itself.

When I think about this, even in an emotional and spiritual way, I still imagine it concretely in terms of taking steps on a mountain path, choosing a footing carefully. Or the idea of projecting strength through my arms and how different it is when I have to reach far. Firmly grounded, I am limited in the distance I can reach in strength, or step confidently.

With that image in mind, I get a different sense of the deeper nature of strength and discipline. Our strength depends not only on our stance, but also on where we stand. We depend on our connections to other sources of strength. True strength connects us to solid, balanced, support, and that often comes from outside sources.

Let us see our strength in the interconnections between us and all existence.

Day 48 of the Omer - leap from solid ground

Yesod in Malchut - the solid balancing point in the wholeness that rules useful doings.

Our best steps start from solid ground. Bringing all the ingredients together to create that stable starting off spot requires all the principles that we have reflected on up until now.

Find that spot, build it even, and then take the next step trusting in our preparations, hoping for the best, and maintain openness to all the unpredictability that may ensue!

Prepare, plan, set our feet solidly, and then go and do!

Almost through the Omer now - we look towards Shavuot on Tuesday night.

Day 39 of the Omer - aim for the future

Netzach in Yesod - the persistent victory of the self in a balanced foundation.

Eternity gets crafted out of well thought out actions that form a solid base.

As we get ready to act, to put our thoughts into reality, we keep in mind the long term even as we focus on forming something simple, balanced, and basic.

In every part of the foundation we place our hopes and plans for the distant future.

Let us build for the long term - why waste the effort on anything else?

The counting is nearing its conclusion!

Day 38 of the Omer - higher and lower balance

Tiferet in Yesod - lofty balance of principles in the grounded balance of applications.

Keeping high minded ideas of balance and beauty as guides while in the thick of crafting the basics almost requires some cognitive dissonance.

Still, the two notions - a balance between intellectual concepts of beauty and a sturdy balance grounded in connecting to actually creating - fortify each other.

We aim to dig trenches that eventually lead to beautiful structures. All of this in the hope of fulfilling ideals balanced between other important values.

Including everything takes patience and attention - include some counting too!

Day 37 of the Omer - Rigor towards balance

Gevurah in Yesod - rigor and strength in solid balanced foundations.

While a foundation stands as a symbol of strength the idea of Gevurah as the application of discipline may inform us when we aim for creating foundations the fulfill their purposes.

To use rigor to help create balance requires care.

Still catching up - this applied to the Omer for Wednesday through Thursday.

Day 36 of the Omer - See kindly then build

Chesed in Yesod - loving kindness in foundation.

Before undertaking something from the bottom up, building solidly, we must see it through compassionate eyes.

A foundation stands well when started with the needs of others and the world in mind.

This is from Tuesday-Wednesday's Omer Count, catching up!

Day 34 of the Omer - Details Build Foundations

Yesod in Hod - a balanced foundation in smallness and humility.

Building solidly requires taking into account all the details, even the smallest of them.

Each fastener, each two by four, each decision in design, reminds us of their value when we look upon something well constructed.

Happy counting, building something out of small details noticed each day.

Day 27 of the Omer - Feel towards the future

Yesod in Netzach - a firm and balanced foundation in the persistent perpetuity of the self.

Finding a path into the future for ourselves requires more than a sense of values and a good plan, we must also feel out stable footholds on firm pathways.

We aim to integrate our different senses and easily swayed emotions into stable foundations. I often find this kind of stability through thoughtful pauses that allow me to identify an emotional response and think through how best to react once I've taken a moment to breathe and reflect.

May all our projects include peaceful moments to think and feel our way ahead.

Blessings as we close out the week of Netzach tomorrow.

perseverance.jpg

Day 13 of the Omer

Yesod in Gevurah - a balanced foundation in strength and rigor.

We project strength only when we start with balance. We extend ourselves well when firmly supported in our roots and our steadiness.

This works physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, and among these four areas as well. Build our strength by starting with balanced building blocks of well-thought out ideas and thoroughly explored emotions, with carefully considered stepping stones and reflected upon insights.

From strong centers we can reach out givingly, reach inwards deeply, and craft connected and more whole selves that continually contribute to the world.

We have almost finished building our second week of the Omer. Enjoy the week to come!

Day 6 of the Omer

Yesod in Chesed - the bridge, or lens, or foundation, in compassion.

Yesod is where we start, a firm footing for our first step into exploring deeper meaning in our lives. It is the bridge to broad horizons from which we can see destinations and ideals.

In attempting to achieve kindness we must have a foot set on something solid as we extend our hand in assistance. Let us find our footing as the first part of reaching out to help.

Knowing something of our destination eases any journey, and traveling towards compassion still asks us to move in the direction of another.

Firm footing on all our journeys and countings!