Qualities of Mercy

I am breathing the lovely moist air from a rare rain shower. It has been so incredibly dry, I feel like doing a Snoopy dance. My dance in the rain is accomplishing some tree trimming and garden work. Now I am sitting at my desk near an open window enjoying the shower of blessings—and a Shakespeare quote comes to mind:

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Maybe a contemporary rendition:

The quality of compassion is effortless,
It drops as the gentle rain from clouds
Upon the earth. It is twice blessed:
It blesses they that give and they that receive.

Reflecting on this passage I realize that rain is not always gentle, but always necessary. In the same way, compassion can flow peacefully and sometimes fiercely. Once in awhile, we may need to offer kindness in its wrathful disguise. The receiver may not understand in that moment. They are blessed nonetheless. 

I recall the wrath of some of my mentors, offered kindly as a metaphorical kick in the seat of my pants. If my sense of self was fragile, I would experience discomfort and not understand until later. When I stood in my strength, I would more likely laugh. 

I appreciate how Vajrayana Buddhist imagery includes both peaceful and wrathful emanations of compassion. In the language of Vajrayana, everything is a “shower of blessings” if we have the insight to experience it. Even a thunderstorm blesses the earth with water—and fire.

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