Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There but for the grace of God go I

Last Sunday, I took my grandson to the swimming pool at the Jewish Community Center. This exercise is most likely going to continue because the grandson's mother continues to deteriorate in health and she has less energy each day. The grandson is autistic. All of the off-shoot manifestations of autism will drain a caretaker very rapidly. That's two different stories apart from this one, however.

At the pool, the grandson is reasonably safe. He loves the water, and he swims with the best. He keeps focused on the diving boards, and his risk for injury is amazingly low, considering how well behaved he is, and disciplined he is in that environment. That is a credit to his mother, who generally does not let his syndrome of autism related disorders become a handicap.

Since he is relatively safe in that environment, I allowed myself to read a book and try some exercises in expanding my ability to love. I watched people. As I focused on a person, I'd make note of my first reaction to that person. Then I would examine that thought or thoughts. Why did I feel that way? I quickly realized two things: I am a very judgmental person. I have many more prejudices based on physical appearances than I ever imagined. It could have been a very discouraging exercise, EXCEPT I went on to correct my thinking anytime I reacted negatively to a person for whatever reason. Here is the process I thought through:

Whatever I think of this person, remember that he/she has been formed by the many events in life and his personality traits. His life experience has brought him as many blessings and pains as life has brought me. Whatever he is, I would be no different if I were in his shoes.
It is true, whatever I hate in this person, I hate in myself. I see that same quality in myself, that I hate in him. Where is it that I can sit in judgment?

This person wants what I want. He wants a comfortable life. He wants to be loved. He wants to love some one. He wants good health. He wants to secure the future for his family. He wants to feel secure now. We have all misunderstood how to achieve those things, and we have all made errors that hurt others.

Life changes continuously. Nothing remains stagnant. Even if you are my enemy now, perhaps in the past or in the future, you were my friend, or you will be my friend.

I send blessing to you. I give you peace. And what ever it is that has made me judge you, I bind, I bless, I and I send it into the Divine Light so that it my return as blessing to you.

Oh, maybe you are impressed that I have thought of this exercise. Well, relax. I learned this from the book I am reading, How to Expand Love: Widening the Circle of Loving Relationships by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This book is packed with useful meditations that will help you to restructure your thinking to expand your ability to love others.

Remember my definition of love: total unconditional acceptance.
That is the love of God.

I came to another very important conclusion;
the same conclusion I have come to many times before.
You have to love yourself first. Since you hate in others what you hate in yourself, you have to love yourself before you can love others.

That doesn't mean you can live without conscience.
It does mean that you have to accept your failures,
your weaknesses,
do what you can to correct them,
and move on without looking back.
The key to not looking back is to LEARN,
and then move on.
Let your failures and weaknesses serve to evoke compassion for those that suffer the same failures and weaknesses.
You know the struggle,
you know the pain,
and you have the basis for compassion, a building-block for loving others.

Be Peace. Be Love

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