The more we are concerned for the well-being of others, the closer we will feel to each other. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
He has many quotes about our relationship within the greater humanity, but this one is about our connection to our neighbor, our friend, and even our enemy.
To me, this heart of this quote is that we are concerned for the condition of ‘others’ Not just our family. Not just our friends. Not just the people we know or like. Others, without qualification. I would imply ‘without limits.’
That concern we feel, the quote says, will impact our relationship with them. Specifically, we are expected to feel closer to them. That has been my experience. Has it been yours?
This quote applies to others both as large groups of people, as well as smaller groups. You might even ignore the plural and apply it to individuals, one at a time. Be concerned, and feel closer.
Why is concern important?
This tendency of humans to feel concern for the well-being of others is the basis of a whole series of commercials. You’ve probably seen them. Children living in poverty or crime ridden slums. You’ve probably even seen the ones featuring animals, dogs and cats, sometimes horses and others.
The point is, however you feel about the tactics, motives, or efficacy of the commercials, there is no denying they work. You feel something. There is a stirring of some sort deep within us. That may trigger compassion or any other reaction, based on your attitude towards being manipulated, but it works.
The concern we have for others usually starts at home. Yes, not everyone has great parent(s), much less a great brother or sister, but it is where most people learn to be concerned about the well-being of those closest to them, both by blood and by proximity.
As we grow and our circle of close friends grows to include others, we begin to feel concern for their well-being. And this draws us even closer to them. It is a positive feedback loop, a reinforcing action which helps build strong communities. And what works for small groups can be applied to larger groups as well.
Where can I apply this in my life?
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know we aren’t going to start by trying to bring peace to the world. We will start by trying to bring peace to you and your immediate circle of family and friends. And that peace starts with feeling closer to each-other, which starts with our concern for each-other.
Yes, if you do so well that you master small groups, you can start trying to bring concern for well-being to a larger stage, national or even international. But that is likely sometime in the future, at least it is for me. Perhaps you are doing much better than I, and if so, please leave any hints or tips in the comments section. 8)
Take a moment and consider what groups of people you feel strong concern for their well-being. How did you determine who was within the circle of those you care about and those you do not? Our society will have something to do with that, as will the attitudes of family and close friends.
Are you happy with where the lines were drawn between those who matter and those who do not? Are you happy with the reasons for where the lines were drawn? If not, you have the opportunity to change those lines, to broaden your circles, and allow more people into the group for which you are concerned.
Obviously, the world would be far better off if everyone included everyone else. The question becomes what are you going to do about those who do not have any concern for your well-being? Will you return an injustice for an injustice and not care about them either? Or will you try to have some concern for them anyway?
It is easy to get caught up in the emotions following a big news event. A murder of someone in your circle by someone outside that circle is often a reason for an entire group to rise up against another. But an eye for an eye will soon leave everyone blind, right? That doesn’t sound like a prudent path to me.
What can you do, what are you willing to do to broaden the circle of those for whom you are willing to feel concerned towards? What do you have to change within yourself to become more open to the concerns of others? What are you willing to do to first feel, and then to act, for the well-being of others?
If you start with those closest to you, and try to increase your level of concern for their well-being, you can begin to come closer together. There might be other issues to address, but it is a start. As you become skilled in this, you can start reaching out to people not as close to you.
Eventually, you will even be able to feel concern for strangers. Eventually, you may even be able to be concerned about your enemies. They might not reciprocate those concerns, but that says more about them than about you, right?
What are you willing to do today, or even right now, to reach out and be concerned with the well-being of someone else? Can you set aside a grudge or some argument and simply care about them? We know you can do it, but what are you willing to do?
From: Twitter, @DalaiLama
confirmed at : it’s his own feed…
Photo by DFID – UK Department for International Development