About 10 years ago, one of my teachers said something that has formed an integral part of my life ever since.
He was speaking on the subject of dealing with aggression, hate and prejudice, and said, “Seeing emptiness, have compassion”.
Those simple words resonated with me immediately; perhaps because he made this act of loving-kindness sound so profound and simple.
Yet it would be many years later before I truly began to understand the depth of what it takes to reach such a state of mind and truly fulfill the intention.
Why? Well, consider for a moment how hard it is to:
Not judge someone for the way they are judging someone else.
Still show the same degree of tolerance for a person when then are being irrational and self-centred.
- Be able to see hatred in someone's eyes and show compassion.
- Remain calm when being shouted at for seemingly no reason at all.
- Be selfless when receiving selfishness.
- To understand how this was possible took not a search but a process of somewhat unconsciousness realisation.
As I cultivated compassion for myself and began to awaken my nature mind, I began to see and feel the gravity and true meaning of those words.
When a person is aggressive, judgmental, irrational, unkind or selfish, it is because they are insecure or fearful. There is an emptiness to be seen. Something is missing.
Such emotions and actions don't arise without reason, even though they are seemingly nonsensical.
At the root is a hole, crying out to be filled. And if we look close enough, we see that we have been a victim of the same grasping, deluded mind in one way or another at some time.
The thing about mindfulness meditation and the cultivation of true awareness is that it often appears as a self-centred journey. Indeed, I've often defined my personal journey as discovering the identity of the actor playing the role in my life. We start with letting go and really ‘being here', on taming the monkey mind and bringing about self-actualisation/realisation.
But what starts as an internal journey of discovery soon becomes an unintentional hike through the mountainous external terrain of the minds of others.
Because a massive part of understanding who we are is seeing ourselves in every other human being.
No life journey would be complete spent sat on a hillside alone, because as we know life is interdependent; our interaction with all other living things is at the essence of who we are: We are social beings; we see, we feel, we belong, we are (“we”).
At times this interaction can be hugely challenging, especially when trying to identify with someone we find offensive, annoying, highly strung or just plain ignorant. But it is necessary –because the mindfulness we nurture in our own lives becomes a precursor for tempering and letting go of the disgust, annoyance and anger we feel in reaction to the behaviour of others.
Only when we can see into someone's soul without judging their external projections does the emptiness reveal itself.
And that's when we are able to show compassion.
This is the point where we can reach out and say, “it's okay, I know why you feel like that”.
This is the point where that person's projections of mind dissolve at our feet and are no longer a boundary to diplomacy.
This is the point where we feel their true pain and they feel our love.
This is the point where we are truly awake.
Every day, life gives us innumerable chances to open our hearts, if we can only take them. ~ Dalai Lama.