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Do You Yearn To Ease Suffering Of Others?

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Do You Yearn To Ease Suffering Of Others?

A few week’s ago my husband, daughter, and I attended a dharma talk at the Green Gulch Zen Center about training to be a bodhisattva, which can be defined as one who is on the path of enlightenment and personal liberation, but who is also committed to easing the suffering of others.

When the monk was describing the bodhisattva path, a little voice inside me piped up with “That’s me!” The more I thought about it, the more I realized that, in fact, this describes almost everybody in the Owning Pink community.  We are a Universe of bodhisattvas, supporting and loving each other as we seek enlightenment while dedicating our lives to easing the suffering of others.

So of course, I had to write a post to teach all you fellow bodhisattvas what I learned.

The monk began the dharma talk by holding up a pumpkin and telling a story.

A Pumpkin Story

Once upon a time there were a bunch of squashes fighting, trying to kill each other, screaming hurtful things, scared that there wouldn’t be enough food or water or sunlight.

Then a monk walked into the garden and said, “Why are you all fighting? Can’t you see that you’re all one big squash plant and each of you is connected by the same vine?”

When the pumpkins realized that they were not individual squashes but part of one big collective squash plant, they stopped trying to hurt each other and started cooperating.

So too are we. All beings are interconnected and when we slather each other in hurt, fear, lack mentality, greed, and violence, we hurt the whole squash plant and ultimately, we all suffer.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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12:58PM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Good article thankyou, nicely written.

8:43PM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

Ruth, people have physical needs that must be met if they are to be healthy enough to be of any good to others.Unless such a person is supported by an outside agency, they must charge something, or they literally, have nothing to give. The picture you present of a spiritual helper is only YOUR opinion, not a truth, and it plain that you don't like Ms Rankin.Of course you can't live the ideal you propose. Nobody can.So since Lissa isn't living YOUR ideal, SHE'S a hypocrite ?
Thankfully, most people now days are beyond such an anitiquated notion of spiritualism, and untill we have personal stipends to live on so that those who are called to such healing service can indeed focus the majority of their time on others, all healers will have to charge for their services, just like everybody else.This should be obvious.

10:09AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

There could be a problem of doing it to make yourself happy... or doing it because you are supposed to... or doing it with a me...

9:44AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

As long as your attempts to take on the yearning to help others emotionally is healthy in that you are not drug down emotionally by whatever the issue at hand be. Being there for that person in a supporting and understanding role, yet at the same time, allowing that person to feel that they have arrived at the right decision that is best suitable for them. Your job is to listen, offer a number of possibilities and then allow that individual to seek the course best suited for them, by them.

9:20AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

Typo on the ()*

9:19AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

Amen, Mary B. I like Wayne Dyer too and he charges too. (They don't get hourly wages so you gotta make your money in one shot like any freelancer.

5:39PM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

Thanks for the article, although I don't see the need to curse.... so, Lissa, perhaps you missed something about that presentation.
I enjoyed the story about the squashes and found it a valid comparison of how we humans live. We all breathe the same air - over and over again all around our planet. I'm about 90% there on the Bodhisattva path, but find it difficult to deal with certain situations. eg Last night at a theatre I sat down looking forward to enjoying a play. Suddenly, I man sat alongside me who reeked of cigarette smoke - it virtually oozed out of all his pores. He hadn't bothered to shower or dress in clean clothes - so I moved away very quickly. People near me four rows behind him could also smell the unpleasant cigarette smoke odour. Seems like I'll be happily stuck on 90%.....

1:27PM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

I think people who go around saying "I'm a bodhisattva" generally aren't.

Mary B, if you're a wonderful spiritual person who lives to serve others, you don't go on welfare. And you don't charge $500 for anything. You live in poverty - because you care about other people so much that you can't bear to own things when other people are hungry or need medicine. You don't want to be distracted from your mission. You're ignoring your very real physical needs to comfort others in their suffering.

But very few people actually live like that. I know I couldn't. Thing is, I'm not going around telling everyone what a saint I am, and selling some bizarre spiritual pyramid scheme. Lissa Rankin is a hypocrite, in addition to everything else.

11:04AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

cool stuff!

10:13PM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

Great article, thank you!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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