Love and compassion are qualities that human beings require just to live together. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
I like this quote as it talks about a fundamental truth which we often ignore, despite knowing it to be true. Even as children, we understood this.
We all live together on this planet. In the days when a horse was fast transportation, this quote still applied, just to a smaller area at any given time.
Today, between aircraft and the internet, we all live on a very small world. The paradigm of “Us vs Them” just doesn’t work anymore. As much as one country or another wants to use those old methods, the rest of the world clearly sees it as foolish.
Love and compassion are the foundation of all human relations. As our families and circles of friendship become larger, so must our hearts. There really is no other way to live together in harmony.
Why is having a large heart important?
Have you ever heard someone say of another that another have a small or cold heart, and mean it as anything besides an insult? Even when backed by facts it is not a compliment, right? Now consider the opposite, have you ever heard someone say that another had a large heart, and not mean it as a compliment?
Love is at the center of having a large or warm heart. If you can feel any of the flavors of love, from romantic all the way down to affection or camaraderie, you’re almost there. Even feeling some love just because they’re a fellow human being is a good start.
By adding compassion to a base of love, you have a foundation for a great life. Compassion for others, and for yourself, means you can put yourself in their shoes, and understand how they feel. It doesn’t mean that you have to accept their values or approve of their actions, just to understand.
This understanding and the love of our fellow humans can help smooth over our differences. There will always be friction between people. Having the tools to help make things go more smoothly, and to forgive others their minor transgressions. How do you think things would go if we all had cold and small hearts?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Take a moment and consider when and where in your life you tend to be least loving and least compassionate. Again, remember that being compassionate does not require to agree with or condone the beliefs or behaviors of a person or group of people.
Are there particular groups of people, or times or circumstances which cause you to harden your heart? Why is that? What of your rules or expectations have they failed to adhere to, or broken? Again, you don’t have to agree with them or their behavior to have a warm heart.
The first step, in my mind, is to understand yourself. Once you know why you are having an issue with a person or group of people, or a behavior which is common to them, you have a possibility to understand yourself. By understanding yourself, you can better and more easily understand them.
What about these events cause you to harden your heart towards them? While their actions may be abhorrent, they are still members of the human race. If you can cut them out for that behavior, how long before you cut out people with less severe behavior? When do you stop moving the line?
What percent of the people of the planet measure up to your standards, and how do you treat those who do not? Is this more a measure of who they are or of who you are? If you believe that it is the former (who they are), then there is little more in this post for you. I only ask that you take some time to consider what has been discussed in the paragraphs above.
For those who think that such an attitude says more about you than about them, I would say that I agree. And the attitude I hold in my heart says more about me than it says about anyone else, as I am the only one who has any control over my heart, and whether it is warm or cold.
Until we understand why we harden our hearts, we won’t be able to change our attitude, right? Take a moment and try to figure out what specific rules or beliefs they are violating. If you just say “it’s wrong” you aren’t going to have much to work with, right?
The final thought is to consider the rules or beliefs which they are violating, and consider how their rules and beliefs are different. While your rules and values are obviously superior to theirs, what can you do to allow them some leniency in their behavior?
The world is becoming a smaller place, and we will continue to interact with more people from other parts of the world. Having a warm heart, and the ability to show love and compassion, will become more and more important with each passing day.