“Imagine you are walking in the woods and you see a small dog sitting by a tree. As you approach, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared. You are frightened and angry. But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap. Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern: You see that the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain.”
True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart
Opening ourselves to a wider understanding of another person’s perspective is the first step towards cultivating a compassionate heart. We can learn to do this by becoming quiet in the easy moments. Themes of our thinking may or may not show their constancy, but we soon learn individual thoughts come and go like soft waves lapping and retreating along a coastline.
By familiarizing ourselves with our thinking’s lack of structure, we realize that others may be experiencing an onslaught of confusion in their minds as well. If they happen to attach to a negative or fearful thought sequence, this may spill over into their world experience. They may lash out or in some instances, shut down completely.
If we are left to look at the surface of what they are presenting, we remain stuck in fear right alongside them. If we open ourselves to the possibility of a deeper understanding, compassion naturally replaces our hurtful interpretations with grace.
From grace, we no longer need to concern ourselves with another’s behavior. All we need is to recognize the mutual beauty that exists between us far beneath the surface of what appears in the world.
The only question is, how deep are you willing to go?
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