8-25-19 The Other-Self

The Other-Self

Spirituality: An underlying guiding vital energy inherent in all life. Seeing other and self as one.

Our heart can feel so vulnerable and tender that we fabricate walls to protect it. It takes determined inner work even to see these walls, and a gentle approach to dismantle them. An addiction or obsession will fortify our barricades against the “sunlight of the spirit” and any real connection with others. We don’t have to tear them down all at once; learning to rest in openhearted goodness is a lifelong process. The key point is to keep opening our hearts to suffering without shutting down. Slowly, we will learn to uncover the limitless qualities of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity, and to extend them to others. To train in making our hearts this big takes bravery and kindness.

Problem: We still feel dis-connection. We learn to look inside for self-worth, BUT it is also essential to connect with others and our world, from a calm sense of who we are, without attachment. Connect: To be an integral part of. A complete self that is complete because we include others. Attach: We need others to complete us. We’re always grasping, through others, for the “I” that is not there and cannot be found in what we think others need to give us.

The material realities in the world, including people that we try to possess, tend to also possess us and diminish our spirituality. Spirituality plants the feet firmly on the ground, allows a vision of self as it is – as we are – imperfect, human and wonderful.

We cannot have a spiritual outlook when we have grasping or resentments toward anyone, be it what we need from them, or what they have done to us, even if it was evil and malicious or just selfish. The problem is not what they have done to us, it is that we are not getting what we want because of someone else’s actions, and we resent them. We have not accepted that they are not responsible for completing us. Or, if they act poorly from a place of confusion and fear, we need to NOT take it personally, but instead have compassion. It’s not easy to release our sense of being entitled, hurt or wanting revenge.

As we slowly come to our senses in recovery and recognize the pain and difficulty we have brought, only then can we extend compassion for others who are engaged in similar actions.

When we feel resentment or anger or fear because of someone or a situation, we are coming from our small self, the one that does not recognize “them,” other, as being as vital a part of a full life as we are. We demean and diminish ourselves.

If we aren’t able to connect with compassion to others, we need to look more deeply into ourselves and come to a greater understanding of our graspings and avoidances. When we can see ourselves clearly and accept who we are, we can then quit needing to fix ourselves, and needing others to fix us. We can engage in healthy relationships that enrich our lives, but which we’re not reliant on as a definition of self that comes from another.

In What the Buddha Taught, Walpola Rahula writes, “He who has realized the truth…is the happiest being in the world…. He does not repent the past, nor does he brood over the future. He lives fully in the present. Therefore he appreciates and enjoys things in the purest sense, without self-projections. He is free from selfish desire, hatred…conceit…. He is pure and gentle, full of universal love…compassion…and tolerance.”

We can never be a whole person as long as our link to others contains grasping, control, resentment or fear. If you are feeling in conflict with a part of your life, look at it, make friends with it, and ACCEPT it. Acceptance is not to condone, it is to simply know and understand, within a healthy space that does not include your ego but does contain clear-seeing and a sense of discrimination. Let that inform you as to the next right action. That action may be to do something different, or to continue on with a greater acceptance. We can’t be enablers, or act from fear or aggression, and stay connected with our “self and other” balance.

To live in the past is to let the dead manage our affairs. To live in the future is to live in a projected, false image of self and others, a fictional movie that breeds resentment. Now contains the truth. We can begin to live in the present through meditation, and take each little bit of the quiet, nonjudgmental feeling we may have touched on into the world, applying it for the benefit of others. We can only benefit ourselves through others, not just through getting what “I” want.

When we are feeling upset (again!) with an emotion that keeps coming back, we:
1. Acknowledge the emotion, without any story line, resentment or wishing it was not there.
2. Experience only what it feels like. Accept it completely, do not attach or identify with it, just accept it is there, it is just a thought.
3. Take 3 deep breaths while feeling a warm sense of contentment, as we open up and accept the emotion in a greater space that includes an acceptance of all.
4. Smile.

To see how spiritually fit we are, we look at our concept of others. Peace comes only through our connections, through letting the breeze of life flow nourishingly through our branches, not clinging onto it, or blaming others because we didn’t get the breeze we deserved.

It is essential that we not permit our negative karma to ripen, but accumulate positive karma instead. Or, Love thy neighbor as thyself, but only after you have learned to love yourself openly and freely.

If we keep trying to Fix ourselves without applying the same principles of tolerance and loving kindness to others, as well as to ourselves, we are just spinning our wheels, not going anywhere. Let’s begin stepping into a larger, more welcoming and brilliant world.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for.
Heart of Recovery web site — fcheartofrecovery.com