I notice that the hurricane Katrina situation – among other responses – triggers some judgment in me: There is deep empathy coming up for those who were not able to leave the area due to lack of transportation and/or poor health (for many, both are related to poverty), and for those who did leave the area and lost all or most of their worldly possessions and maybe their livelihood. But for those who could have left and didn’t, there is judgment coming up.

They knew that this was a category five hurricane heading directly at New Orleans – far stronger than any they have experienced in decades. And just about nothing can withstand a category five hurricane (it did reduce in strength as soon as it landed, so that prevented the total destruction there could have been). Why didn’t they leave? Why did they allow petty concerns (protecting their property) and/or ideologies (misguided self-image, toughing it out) from preventing them to take care of themselves? I notice this judgment clouding empathy from coming up.

They should take care of themselves
[inquiry process]

1. Yes. It feels true (and I can see I make it seem so, I convince myself so).

2. No, I cannot absolutely know that. It is just an opinion.

3. (a) Judgment and repetitive thoughts: why didn’t they take care of themselves? Why didn’t they leave when they knew that this would be far worse than any hurricane they have experienced so far? The information was out there, repeated over and over in the media, for at least two full days before it hit. How could they be so arrogant? So stupid? And now, they tie up resources used to save them which could be used to save others who did not have the opportunity to leave. (b) Concern over myself, seeing how this judgment covers up my natural response of empathy. Although this is very human, in a sense – it reduces my humanness, my ability to fully experience with them as a full human being. It closes my heart where it could be open. (c) A fascination with the situation. I spend more time reading stories online than I do with other stories, and what I probably would have if I didn’t attach to this judgment. I create a situation for myself where I allow myself to see that I am attaching (quite strongly) to a thought, caught up in a hangup. (d) Lack of empathy and an open heart. (e) Contractions, including shallow breath and muscle tension. (f) Some confusion, lack of clarity.

4. Clear and with an open heart. Receptive to their double suffering, first from the situation they are in and then for blaming themselves for not leaving.

5. I should take care of myself. (Yes, this is definitely true. When I get absorbed in this, I don’t take care of myself. I end up reading stories on the internet when I could do something far more nurturing for myself. I am in their business, not in mine. And I allow myself to get caught up in thoughts, clouding my natural empathy, and live from a hardened and shallow place. Taking care of myself here includes doing an inquiry and allowing this spell to dissolve.)

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