Us & The Other: A Spiritual Practice
As Eckhart Tolle says in his beautiful book Stillness Speaks:
Human interaction can be hell. Or it can be a great spiritual practice.
On the progression of my journey through life, particularly in the last 4 years as I have grown deeper into my spiritual practices and pursuits, I have become much more aware of who I associate with and my connections with other people.
In the beginning, I adopted a much more rigid and selfish outlook on where I invested my time and efforts. I fell into the unconscious behavior of judging others or forming opinions of other people and not allowing the space for us to connect or share love.
Friends, family members, lovers… I kept outwardly putting blame on other people for my own spiritual hindrances. So it goes in this life as a human being. So much easier to point the finger outward and blame then to look inside at one’s own consciousness. I was letting my ego run my relationships.
I deemed that only certain relationships were worth my efforts and the rest were chaining me into toxic behaviors, lower vibrations, and unconscious activity.
AKA- my ego’s sense of self that was saying I was “above these people” which was creating tension and leading me to live in a way that was ugly, tainted by hurtful thoughts and judgement that was not a place for peace and love to grow, but was in fact, a breeding ground for deeper unconscious behavior.
What I had yet to discover, is that every single relationship and encounter between myself and the other was a new opportunity for spiritual growth and understanding.
Instead of labeling others, instead of judging them based on what they can or cannot give me, the space shared between me and the other is an arena to see how deeply I can remain present and in a place of understanding.
I will not always agree with the things others say, I may feel deeply angry or saddened by the way they choose to view the world or the actions that spring from their perspective, but instead of building a wall between us because of our differences, I can choose now to find common ground here in the present moment, here in love.
If all I have is right here, right now with this Being in front of me. Do I want to spend it upset, not in peace, arguing, or bickering about something out of my control?
Or instead, do I want to choose to look past all of their conditioning, all of their thoughts, and unconscious behavior and to See who they really are, which is deserving of my utmost respect and reverence?
To love is no small thing. It is easier to react, easier to feed into the flames that ask us to fight, to defend, to be righteous..
To love means to let the ego wither away under the light of our awareness and this is painful because it destroys all these thoughts and conceptions who we think we are.
Just the other day at my Aunt’s wedding I was at a table seated down with a group of new friends, we were discussing a vegan diet versus an omnivorous diet. As the conversation progressed I witnessed anger and frustration arising within me. I paused and took a breath,
“Why am I upset? Why am I letting mere words steal my peace?”
Simple, because of my identification to my perspective. So instead of feeding into this ignorant sense of self, defending it with an argument, I remembered that none of it matters anyway in the context of this moment. I am not better than him because I am a vegan. I thanked him for his openness from the bottom of my heart for sharing his experience and perspective with me.
Instead of letting the ego run off with our shared dinner experience, I accepted him, in all his beauty and his meat eating and decided consciously that loving him was the only right and beautiful option. Loving him was the only way I could express in this moment my highest truth, and the only way to ascend out of the darkness of ignorance.
To love requires attention, presence, patience, understanding, and compassion.
Love means tearing town the walls. Opening our arms as wide as we can. And saying,
“Come as you are”
Each person is being brought to us as a gift. A teacher. A guest. An opportunity to see if we have truly learned what is is we are here to learn.
It is easy to feel peaceful and blissful when we are meditating, on our yoga mats, or in the company of like-minded people. The real testament however, the true spiritual practice, begins when we step outside of these arenas and we are presented with unpredictable experiences and interactions. Each and everytime we fail, each and everytime we let our anger or our fear get the better of us, we bring to light parts of us that still need healing, still are in need of the light of our awareness. Even when we are making mistakes, these to are entry ways into deeper understanding and growth if we can be mindful enough to reflect and study ourselves and our interactions throughout the course of a day.
This is a life-long spiritual pursuit. One that we can constantly be growing in. It is a door way into freedom, into greater love, greater peace. By learning to see others as they are we cultivate compassion and purify our minds.
My wish for you dear one is to be happy and well. To share joy, to find the common ground, and each time you wander off the path, I pray you again return into your love, into your peace.
Be courageous today in your love.
As Rumi says,
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass & the world is too full to talk about…
Meet me there dear friends. Meet everyone right there.