It’s a misconception to think that you should help people because they’re less fortunate than you. What you give to others stems from yourself, because ultimately, you are them. When you realize that you’re not separate from others, when you don't try to compare yourself through greatness or weakness, but are intimately interconnected to this changing existence, then you can open your heart.
It all begins now. In this moment.
And yet, you still avoid the present. You harden yourself against what is uncertain and uncomfortable, what challenges your ego. You seek out what is pleasurable, whether that’s in gorging yourself on a fast-food meal or preserving an attractive image to others. You avoid feeling sad and angry, embarrassed and lonely. Instead of really being with your feelings, you blame others or yourself. You switch on the TV as a distraction, give money publicly to appear like a generous person, or rationalize why you were politically right. You categorize good from bad, right from wrong. You judge yourself instead of letting go of your stories.
The moment is still here. It is precious in its transience. While your instinct is to shut down, harden against suffering, deny your feelings, if you truly want to wake up, you must know yourself. It is comfortable to hide. When you stop hiding from yourself, though, you can begin to heal. Be kind and be with yourself. Don’t look away from your embarrassments and fears. If you’re willing to embrace yourself, laughing in gentle awareness, then you're exposed but free.
It’s common, and easy, to protect your heart. You judge yourself and others. You see your actions as victories or defeats. Soon, if you become habituated in your mental defenses, you take yourself so seriously. After all, you’re a big deal. You feel comfortable in the role of winner or loser. You then rationalize your poor decisions while assassinating the characters of others to build yourself up.
This life isn’t as serious as you think it is. You have only created a complex narrative of your identity. And yet, every moment is like a dream. A passing memory. When you’re aware of the present, unattached to its passing, then there is more space. Life is joyful in its uncertainty. When you step out of what is known and secure, you will feel groundless. Everything is moving, changing. There is nothing to grasp onto. One way to let go is to lighten up. To be gentler to yourself. What is good and bad, happy and sad, passes in emptiness.
When you connect with your vulnerability, then you will not act out or repress your feelings. You will be open to them instead, aware of how they manifest within you, without trying to control them. The more you try to hold on, the more you invite suffering. If you can’t let go, you will blind yourself from all your attachments, unable to experience directly.
How you see yourself will transform your world. If you are honest, not repressing or ignoring or justifying, then your relationship with the universe will always change. Your resolve to be vulnerable will transform your pain into a teacher. You will know all the tricks you play on yourself to protect your image. You will let go of the storylines that control you. By relating to what harms you, by being present, you will create openness within yourself.
The ego loves a good story. It strengthens itself, feeding off of your self-preservation. When you clench your heart, avoiding the moments of your pain, then you become attached to your image of pride, of sadness, of righteousness. You separate from others. You may even feel secretly satisfied in having memories of how others had wronged you.
When you open yourself to the moment, though, you realize that everything is fresh. By being there for yourself – gently and without judgment – you are there for others. You are constantly learning. Evolving.
Don’t have expectations for other people. They are who they are. You can only be aware of yourself in this changing experience. The more aware you are, the more you will see the fiction of the drama you’ve created for yourself. It arises out of emptiness. Behind the storylines, though, there is energy and movement. Notice it.
When you’re willing to open your heart, you will realize your kinship with everyone. As you give to them, you give to yourself. Rather than trying to collect things, whether they’re materials or time or energy, you will surrender yourself to your being. When you’re no longer armoring yourself against the world, you are free to appreciate others. You will no longer complain or condemn. You will instead honor the moment of happening.
The more you’re aware of your own pain, the more you can relate to other people’s pain. You can then see the chain-reaction of your choices, how one decision can lead to misery or well-being. Be gentle and understand yourself. Directly acknowledge your multitudes. As each breath leaves, you’re born again. In the space of that birth, release your stories, your expectations, your complaints.
You could read a million books, but you are already here, awake if you wish to be.
When you relax, and lighten up, how other people perceive you doesn’t matter. There’s no rush to your success. You’re already here, laughing at this existence, curious. You’re at peace in mysteriousness. Not striving or expecting, condemning or acting like you're better than anyone else. You’re simply here, giving yourself fully, unafraid to feel the groundlessness of your being.
You’re open, not trying to protect yourself. Your heart is soft. It has enlarged from you nurturing it, letting it grow in space. There is no escape from the moment now. The moment will suggest its truth to you. But will you realize it?