Heartstrings of Presence

A masked man sits on one of the stacking chairs at the vaccine center after receiving his second shot. His back is against the wall far away from those in line to get inoculated. He holds a cello and begins to play an impromptu concert with pieces from Bach and Schubert. YoYo Ma, the world renowned cellist, just wants to give back, to offer some notes of kindness during the pandemic. His gesture is acknowledged by an enthusiastic round of applause, and then everything returns to normal, but with one obvious difference. Every heart is lighter.

In this time of pervasive virtual communication, YoYo ma’s spontaneous gift is a wonderful symbol of compassion, the natural interpersonal expression of bodhicitta. This real time music offering echoes throughout the universe as a testament to time and presence. The strings of the cello connects to the heartstrings of all beings. It is a celebration of vibration, the silent pulse of interconnection. Everyone yearns for a return to the sweetness of presence.

Thich Nhat Hanh expressed it this way:

The greatest gift we can make to others is our true presence. “I am here for you” is a mantra to be uttered in perfect concentration. When you are concentrated – mind and body together – you produce your true presence, and anything you say is a mantra. It does not have to be in Sanskrit or Tibetan. A mantra can be spoken in your own language: “Friend, I am here for you.” And if you are truly present, this mantra will produce a miracle. You become real, the other person becomes real, and life is real in that moment. You bring happiness to yourself and to the other person.

May we never forget to pluck the heartstrings of another through an offering of pure presence. As Rumi said, “Stay here, quivering with each moment…”

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