One for Love

Christina Green 2001-2010

I was going to post about my intention to be more compassionate this year. More tolerant, to be specific. I have a tendency to react to things in a way that causes me pain. I react inwardly, stuffing down feelings which never really dissipate. And before you know it, I’m surrounded by black swans. My own shadow side, projected outwardly. I think we all do this, a little bit. Right?

So is the answer to be more compassionate? More tolerant? And if  so, what does that mean?

A world-renowned specialist in Chinese medicine and cancer treatment, a guy whom people travel the world to see in his tiny office in San Anselmo put his pen down and looked me in the eyes after we’d talked for about a half hour, after he’d had a chance to gather a sense of me.

“You know there are some who believe there is a cancer personality.”


“Yes. There’s a belief that our cellular activity mimics our mental/emotional activity. If we are the types to accommodate abuse and other transgressions, no matter how large or small, then our healthy cells will do the same. They’re suppose to attack the offensive, rogue cells. But the healthy cells look the other way. They accommodate the dangerous cells. Then the cancer grows and takes over.”

“That’s fascinating,” I said. Accommodating. Emotionally looking the other way.

I don’t know if I believe the theory, but I find it intriguing, a sort of quantum relationship between cellular behavior and emotional behavior. I certainly haven’t forgotten it. I wrote down what he said, word-for-word.

“So, if we have this cancer personality type, what should we do?” I asked.

“We should get really, really angry.”

Interesting. Allowing ourselves to rant and get pissed off, we teach our cells not to put up with it so that our healthy cells turn on the cancer, stick up for themselves.

But what about compassion? Tolerance? Isn’t that what Jesus and the Buddha would have us practice instead? Do we respond to hateful political rhetoric, for instance, with tolerance and compassion? Do we look the other way? Won’t the cells then do the same and allow the cancer to grow? Incite the shooter, like the one in Arizona, to take people down?

I just don’t know.

I was mulling over this question over my morning tea while little J played out a furious battle between his Hero Factory characters. Then I read Tim Booth’s blog post in which he asks a similar question. He wonders what would happen if we let our inner F*you a little free range. Would we be living from a space of truth? And would this mean we are not compassionate?

Some people think that every word or action is an expression of love or a desperate cry for love. I was going to post today that my fourth intention for 2011 was to live from a space that sees things this way. My intention was going to be to have compassion and tolerance for every word or action, knowing that it is either from a space of love of lack thereof.

But I just don’t know.

Instead, my fourth seed, one for love, is the intention to try to balance compassion and tolerance with my inner F* you who won’t tolerate bad behavior, hate-inciting language on the part of our “leaders” or the people in my community, even. I don’t know how to balance that, but I intend to try to this year. To show my cells (and my son for that matter) that we deserve better.



ps: Please share with me how you balance compassion and tolerance with “not putting up with it.” I know I have some peeps out there who are especially good at it.

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  1. Mari’s avatar

    Very good questions. I don’t have the answers, but I just saw this on FB. My friend Mimm posted it, and it appears right above your fourseeds post on my wall. So I thought I should share it with you!

    I haven’t read it yet–the article or the book–but maybe it will help.

  2. Jennifer’s avatar

    Thanks, Mari. It seems like a lot of people are thinking about compassion right now, perhaps because of the shootings in Arizona. That’s part of it for me, for sure.

    I love this quote from what you sent:

    look into your own heart, discover what gives you pain, and then refuse under any circumstance whatsoever to inflict that pain on anyone else

    This is a good mantra to live by.

    I wonder how to balance that with refusing to accept hateful rhetoric to proliferate through mainstream media or other unacceptable transgressions to transpire, with love and compassion.

    Hugs and love,

  3. Sandra’s avatar

    Great post, Jenn. I have to say, I don’t believe that every action is a call for love. Hate is a very real thing. And this is coming from a practicing Buddhist. We are at a point in our evolution where our calling is to be responsible. We know too much, especially about how our actions affect others as well as ourselves. Every religion and philosophy has a saying for it: “What you sow, so shall ye reap”, karma, cause and effect. It’s all there. What you put out, you will get back. But, what you put up with, what you tolerate is bound to bite you in the ass at some point. Tolerance can give permission for the negative to continue, to permeate, to infest and infect. Sometimes, you have to stand up and shout, scream NO from the top of your lungs. And, sometimes, NO consists of four letters, the first being a huge F. xo

  4. Jennifer’s avatar

    Very well said, Sandra. Thank you. I especially like:

    “But, what you put up with, what you tolerate is bound to bite you in the ass at some point. Tolerance can give permission for the negative to continue, to permeate, to infest and infect. ”

    We especially want to teach our kids by example, right? To not tolerate what is not okay. So that hopefully little J doesn’t grow up in a world where leaders are preaching hate like it’s Nuremberg 1934 all over again.

    It’s up to us to say no, out of a refusal to tolerate hate. Out of love.


  5. Gina’s avatar

    Dear Ms. Jen…I know I don’t post on your blog very much, but when I saw your informative post, I thought I’d better holler.

    BECAUSE we love ourselves and our families fiercely, because life is a fight to survive under the best of circumstances, all the more reason that we put our hand and say “NO”–to any hate, to any bigotry, to anything that attacks us. Often the attacker–whether it comes in the form of a seemingly well-meaning “friend” who drops little spiteful comments here and there, or a boss who is verbally abusive, or a mean, abusive bully–does not expect a “NO”, a refusal to yield.

    In this world it doesn’t take long to see who puts up with crap, who can be rolled over, and who can set healthy boundaries with a smile (and, if necessary, an “F*** you” delivered with the soulful voice of a nun :) Or screaming. Whatever works) Either way, PUSH BACK.

    If there is a gift that I want to give to my (whenever God gives her to me) daughter, it’s that you can STAND UP. Prevention is the best medicine. Put out the vibe that you are She Who Cannot Be Easily Messed With, and often that puts off those who might try. AND this can done without being a beeyotch, but you know what? Those that often might think of you as lacking “compassion” are often those who feel threatened by the strength that is YOU. True friends, ideally, don’t push to hurt. Love and strength, both at once.

    Okay…kind of rambling here…just wanted to let you know I felt you and that I was listening. Thinking of you with love!!!!

    Gina McKuen :)

  6. Sidney’s avatar

    Smile through the F***.

    And say nice things more often than the F-word. Both are acceptable.

    VERY fine post, Miss Jenn.

  7. Jon’s avatar


    I don’t think it’s about tolerance, but about separation.

    I think not tolerating certain behavior in ourselves and in others is something we do, and indeed must do, every day. I think that’s healthy for us, for those around us, and for society as a whole. But I think if we come from a space of ‘f$%* you’ then we’re separating ourselves from the actor/s, rather than just not tolerating their actions.

    I think compassion and intolerance (or rather ‘not tolerating’) go hand-in-hand, that they’re not at odds with one another because they focus on different things. However extreme someone else’s point of view may be, we can choose not to accept it, and not tolerate it, without engendering separation from what ultimately lies beyond it.

    My two penneth, for what it’s worth.


    Ps. I wouldn’t presume to know how the concept of tolerance relates to a person’s relationship with disease, but I’m certainly on board with the idea of continuity between the macro and the micro.

  8. Jennifer’s avatar

    Gina, Jon and Sid, thanks so much for contributing to the dialogue. I love the points you make and am hugging you as I read them again.


  9. Helena’s avatar

    Jen, such a thoughtful, incredibly thought-provoking post. I’m going to mull and read and mull over it some more. Sometimes when I read things like this, and the comments afterwards, my thoughts get so busy I can’t find the simple line that is my opinion. But then, I sit and think, and I realise I have one. :)

    You’re talking about finding a balance. Between refusal to accept the unacceptable and acceptance of what is. Between expressing compassion and not allowing something hateful in. Now, is there a clear, clean way? I don’t know. Is anything clear or clean, or simple? Probably not!

    All I have, is my own personal mantra: to be patient and to be kind (and by that I mean, respectful—to myself and others). All I have, is how I deal with things, on a personal level, day to day, minute by minute.

    I deal with things by feeling around inside myself. I literally rummage around to see where my comfort level is in a certain situation. Sometimes the response is a straight “F*** you,” but that often leaves me feeling spent and hard inside. Sometimes the response is, “I can’t do anything to change this. It’s hopeless,” and then I feel spent and lost inside.

    Sometimes I think, I will do what I can. I will say what I need to say, do what I need to do, with firmness and kindness. I will not be bullied or co-erced. I will never tolerate disrespect; I speak out about it, always. I will separate from things that are intolerable, for as long as necessary, and I will explain, with firmness and kindness, why. I will speak from my true heart and I will take responsibility. That is all I have and all I can do. Then…I breathe.

    When I do that, I feel like I’ve found a clear, clean path. Or the start of one, anyway :)

    Thank you Jen, for this. I’m sending so much love!

  10. Jennifer’s avatar

    Helena! Thank you for your gorgeous words. I love this:
    I will never tolerate disrespect; I speak out about it, always. I will separate from things that are intolerable, for as long as necessary, and I will explain, with firmness and kindness, why. I will speak from my true heart and I will take responsibility. That is all I have and all I can do. Then…I breathe.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts…


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