It is helpful to see that we are part of a greater whole. We are more than our bodies, more than our thoughts, more than our feelings. Every time we identify with some fixed point in space or time, we close our hearts to the vastness of our being. Every time we narrow the vision of what we really are, we become afraid and fall out of love. A contemplative practice like this one can remind us that we are part of an ever-changing continuum.
When I think about what it means to be a wise person, I contemplate those whom I consider wise. My father was a wise man. He was naturally kind, a person to whom others turned for support and counsel. Through him I realized that wisdom and kindness give birth to each other.
As he lay dying, my father did not seem to be afraid of death. He had included old age, sickness, and death in his life as he was letting go of it. He included the memory of my mother; the presence of his new wife; his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild; nurses, doctors, and aides; and his sickness and humor. Nothing was left out. As he was giving away his life, his wisdom and kindness grew even deeper. He let go of opinions, concepts, and ideas. He let go of all of us. His true nature shone through his dissolving body as boundless love, completely free of clinging, for everyone around him.
Lovingkindness is supremely relational: it works only if it is offered, given away, or shared. We cannot bank love; it grows as we give it away. The more we give it away, the greater our capacity for love. This is how lovingkindness becomes limitless.
We would all do well to practice that process of letting go while we are healthy and vigorous so that when sickness, old age and death comes our way we will know how to do it!