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Wabi Sabi Monsters

A few years ago we were in Venice, Italy with my sister Debbie and several friends and we went to see a contemporary art exhibition featuring the collection of Francois Pinault (Salma Hayak’s husband). It was in a gorgeous palace known as the Palazzo Grassi and it included works by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan and others.

I enjoy seeing these works but I don’t pretend to understand the depth, nuance and complexity of their meaning.

After viewing the art of the first floor, we began walking up a marble staircase to the next floor. Halfway up there was a landing and I noticed what looked like a young boy kneeling, in prayer position, facing the corner.

From the back the boy looked to be about 12 or 13 (the same age as my nephew Beau was at the time) and he was wearing clothes from the early 1900’s. He had brown hair and for a moment I thought – “that looks like it could be Beau.

There was something still and serene about this boy in the prayer position. I walked to the side to see the boy’s face and Debbie and I were completely shocked and surprised to see the face of the adult Hitler, moustache and all.

I suddenly remembered that Hitler’s father had unexpectedly died when he was 13 years old and in that moment I felt a wave of compassion run though me. Hitler, the monster was once an innocent child (and yes, I still consider him a monster and this experience in no way minimized for me who and what he became.)

I tried to take a picture of this statue but security guards quickly stopped me. I asked why there were two guards…was it just to stop people like me who wanted to take a photograph? The guard who spoke English told me that many people had such a negative reaction to the art that they would try to spit on it or harm it in someway (that was certainly the immediate reaction of some of my friends who were with us.)

Just as Lynne found compassion for Mobutu, I found that a work of art became a life-changing experience for me…. I learned that even in the most horrific of circumstances, compassion can be found.

Being able to open my heart and find compassion for a monster is a dimension of Wabi Sabi Love- the art of finding perfection in imperfection that I never anticipated. This experience became, for me, the next level to grow a generous heart and to discover the depth and range in terms of love, compassion and appreciation within myself, when I am willing and courageous enough to explore these potentials.

Where or when have you found compassion for the impossible?

PS Do you have a Wabi Sabi Love question?  Click here, I would love to hear from you!


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Arielle Ford

Arielle Ford is a highly influential personality in the personal growth and contemporary spirituality movement. For the past 25 years she has been promoting consciousness through all forms of media. Her stellar career includes years as a prominent book publicist, author, literary agent, TV lifestyle reporter, radio host, publishing consultant, relationship expert, and blogger for the Huffington Post. Arielle is the author of nine books including the international bestseller, The Soulmate Secret: Manifest The Love of Your Life With The Law of Attraction. Her latest book is Wabi Sabi Love: The Ancient Art of Finding Perfect Love in Imperfect Relationships. She lives in La Jolla, CA with her husband, Brian Hilliard and their feline friends.


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5:09PM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

There is always something a the core of it (evil). Its hard, but we have to give them the benifit of the doubt and know that at one point they were innocent children.

11:58AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

It's lovely when we can understand and look for the innocence in someone that is evil. Lynne's kind handshake with Mobutu may not have changed or touched him, but it has sent good ripples out to the world, just like your story of your compassion for Hitler did. Thanks for the post.

7:08PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

thanks for sharing this, sometimes it is difficult to see the whole person and the light within them, and sometimes, when it is done, it can create changes in both involved

3:42AM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

As some say on this blog "people do senseless and violent things" but unfortunately when backed for decades by both the governments of the USA and France in the case of Mobutu, with money, weapons and the personal friendships of presidents who should know better, their capacity for evil is extended way past that of the ordinary man or woman. In the end as voters in a democracy we should be able to take responsibility and quietly without emotion, use our brains to work out that if we support politicians who are in cahoots with the likes of Mobutu, we are no better than those thugs irrespective of our traumatic potty training.

11:48PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

Interesting. Thanks.

5:51PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

I've found that "may you be free of suffering and the root of all suffering" is something I can wish wholeheartedly for those who have seriously wronged me.

5:09PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012


4:03PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

I've purposely tried to think that about people who are particularly difficult to me or seem evil to me. Sometimes it helps. But it's hard.

9:45AM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

I think this is why reacting to hate with hate doesn't make anything better. people do senseless and violent things, but it's usually because they are horribly misguided or have suffered some kind of traumatic violence themselves. It doesn't excuse the violence, it just reminds you not to let it continue.

6:58AM PDT on Mar 18, 2012


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