Originally I intended to call this Are We Our Brother’s Keeper Or Is That Now Passé? Conceived it during the Holiday season. I like many passed the ubiquitous Salvation Army tin cans with the mostly unappreciative and despondent bell ringers manning said cans. And I assume as with most, I tossed in a few coins, spares ones, and even a few 20s a few times.

To which I received the requisite thank you and God bless.  And occasionally a smile.

That sparked the impetus for this column—for it made me wonder are we truly our brother’s keepers, or is that just something we pat ourselves on the back for being during the Holiday season when we toss a few bucks into the charity pots, or donate some worn and torn clothes to the Goodwill bin or write a check that we pitch, knowing that we can later use for a nice little tax write-off, into the offering collection plate at church?

Does this make us our brother’s keepers? Or does it merely let us internally say—I’m a good person; I did my part; my conscience is now clear. I care.

The second question it arises is–does it keep us and hopefully them away from the abyss? The abyss that those less fortunate than us dwell in and worse, the possibility that one day if fate decides we too may fall into?

But what is the abyss?  In his book I AM THAT—philosopher Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj states, “The mind is the abyss. The heart crosses it.” Esoteric contemplative stuff indeed.

I have pondered this for some time and as such have deduced my interpretation but I wanted to take it a step further. So I conducted a random survey—I spanned the gamut from intellectual philosophers to successful entrepreneurs to movie patrons to individuals living on the street.

Some of their answers are below.

“Mind is infused with ego which serves a function in everyday survival, but creates immense turmoil. In it is judgment, repetitive chatter, attachment, beliefs and a whole litany of other energy draining perceptions. Hence the abyss. The heart symbolizes love and clarity showing life as it is without the filter of mind.”

“The abyss is the realm where hatred and divide resides. Compassion from others and towards others is what makes the abyss irrelevant.”

“There is no abyss except for fear. Fear dwells in the mind. Love dwells in the heart.”

“It’s a Sci-Fi movie from the 90s directed by James Cameron. Rocked.”

“It’s where I am now. Alone. Hungry.  Living in a wheelchair on the streets. It’s crossed when someone cares enough to acknowledge that I exist. Some offer me food. Work. A kind word. Money. Some just smile and look me in the eye and that tells me that I do matter. I am seen.”

I want to leave you all with this—what does the abyss mean to you and how does the heart cross it?

Finally, are we our brother’s keepers or is that now passé?


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