In this lesson, we will begin turning towards others.
We have practiced many lessons:
- seeing our stories
- seeing the pain that results from it
- starting to practice compassion with that pain
- starting to tap into the tender heart underneath the pain
- seeing the basic goodness underneath our tender hearts
- practice gratitude for ourselves
- starting to trust in our basic goodness
With all of those amazing practices, we are starting to work with the relationship we have with ourselves.
The final step is to start to turn outwards from our narrow self concern. We are so concerned with ourself and our tender hearts. We start to look at how what others do means to us and how what they do means to us. It’s very natural to be thinking about ourselves all the time. What happens when we turn outward?
There is a book called, Being Upright by Reb Anderson. He is one of the best Zen Masters and this is a book I have worked with for some time. Early on in the book, Reb talks about the bodhisattva way, a vow to help all beings. He says that though it may not seem possible, what would happen if we allow ourselves to turn towards others? That questions changed me.
For me, I am often very worried about myself and how I am doing and feeling. But what if I turn towards others? We have times where we serve others and it feels meaningful. Every time we genuinely care about how others are doing, about their happiness, about helping them through a struggle, we feel a connection. How incredible is that? We stop worrying about ourselves, even for a few moments, and we become a protector, a guide, a helper, or a friend to lean on in that moment. That is what this last lesson is about.
This lesson is about how we can turn compassionately towards others.
- Practice compassion towards others. All of these hurts we feel about ourself, we reinforce the habit of self-concern. What if I didn’t do this for a moment and turned away from my own self concern? Now, I know we can go too far in that and not try and treat ourselves well, and I am not suggesting that we ignore ourselves. I am saying, how can I serve others? How can I give them my compassion? Practice that compassion exercise towards family, friends, political foes, and strangers.
- Trust in your basic goodness and the basic goodness in others. Once you do that, it shifts from this worrying about yourself to worrying about others. There has to be a trust in your basic goodness. It is there. That basic goodness does want to connect to others and help them. We don’t have to worry about ourselves because that basic goodness is there and we trust in it. Then we can turn towards others.
- Start with yourself and then tun towards others. Part of turning towards others is being able to work with ourselves. We cannot be compassionate to others if we are not compassionate to ourselves first. We cannot really serve others if we haven’t learned to find gratitude about ourselves, tap into our own pain, see our tender heart, and feel our basic goodness. In order to serve others, I have to work with myself. Start with yourself and then turn outward. To help them, I need to work in my own mindfulness. To help them, I have to show what it is to stay wth my own pain and to feel that instead of running away from it. If I can be compassionate instead of harsh with my own pain, maybe others can benefit from seeing my example. Maybe they will benefit because I will be happier and kinder towards them when I am kinder towards myself.
- Being kind to yourself is a service to others. Turning to others is breaking out of your own self-concern. You recognize that you have to serve yourself in order to serve others. It is a bigger mission. That is the turning away from the habit of self-concern and turning towards others. At the same time, it is serving ourselves and being compassionate for ourselves so we can do the same for others.
- Work with your own pain to serve others. If we see our own pain, it connects us to the pain of others. Staying present with our pain becomes a way to serve others. We feel the pain of all others who feel pain. This is our connection to all others. If we want to help others, we need to connect with ourselves.
What I am asking you to do now is
- see how you can serve others
- see how you can be compassionate to others
- see how you connect with others
It is an interconnected thing. I am both helping myself as I help others and vice-versa. Helping myself is a way to help others. Helping others is a way to help myself. To make myself happy, I can be kinder to others. This may seem cyclical, and it is. That is what I am asking you to do. Trust in your own basic goodness so you can trust in the basic goodness of others as well.
Give them the benefit of the doubt and see how you can help them through their suffering as you help yourself through your own. That is the practice.
I hope you found this course useful and continue the practice in your life as you see fit. I hope this turning towards others can be a way for you to see the basic goodness of everyone around you. I hope you can see how you can help them in na compassionate ad kind way.
Thank you, my friends. I am very grateful you are in this course.
Please share some of your experiences with these practices in Slack.