A series of three people show up on my doorstep, one after the other, thinking I can help them. (They have read my blog, for some reason thought I could help them, and figured out my address.) I tell them I can’t help them. I brush them off. I don’t acknowledge them beyond that. The last one is persistent and follows me and my wife as we are go to set up for a meditation session in the evening. When we arrive, a meditation is in progress and the person following me thinks I have lied to her. I take time to explain the situation to her, and as I do so, a shift happens for me. My heart opens.
This is another one of the common landscape features we can come upon when we explore who or what we are, or even if we don’t: compassion independent of a feeling.
As long as we quite strongly take ourselves to be a separate individual, compassion is relatively closely connected with a certain heart feeling. We feel our heart open up, and we act on that open heart. But then something happens, our heart closes down, and we don’t act that way anymore. Or we may still act in a similar way, but now from a should, a belief which usually comes from our culture, religion or even spiritual tradition.
There is nothing wrong in any of this. It is where we are, the particular landscape we are exploring here and now. And it is beautiful with the sweet heart feeling, and the actions that come from it. And even acting on those shoulds has its place as well. As long as we strongly take ourselves to be a separate individuals, shoulds sometimes keep ourselves and others out of trouble. There is a reason why cultures instill them in us the way they do.
But then this changes in a few different ways.
First, through expanding our circle of care, compassion and concern, our circle of us. When we see someone as us, we need less of the heart feeling to act compassionately. (That feeling is there more readily too, for that matter.) As long as situations are not too extreme, and even then sometimes, we will act with respect, concern and care towards these beings.
Whether they are fellow humans, animals, plants, the Earth, and maybe in the future – who knows – fellow beings of this galaxy, as long as our circle of care expands to include them, we will act relatively compassionately towards them because they too belong to us.
Then, more thoroughly, there is another shift when we discover ourselves as Ground, as awakeness, and as this field of awakeness and form, inherently absent of an I with an Other. We may even just glimpse or intuit it, and that is often enough for a change to begin to take place.
Here we realize that all beings and all form is the one I without an Other, and as we deepen into seeing, feeling, and loving this, it seeps into how this human self lives its life. It naturally acts compassionately towards others, with whatever skillful means it has at its disposal, just as naturally as the left and helps the right when it is needed.
At this point, it all happens independent of a feeling. If that sweet heart feeling is there, good. If not, that is fine too. Acting with care and compassion is freed from the feeling.
Another way of saying this is that when this human self operates within the context of Big Mind noticing itself, Big Heart naturally comes in. And Big Heart is sometimes associated with that heart feeling and sometimes not, but its activities in and through our life is not dependent on it.
I am reading a book by my favorite spiritual teacher, Jes Bertelsen, on Christian heart practices, and it helps me review some of my own experiences with it and how it has changed over time.
One thing that has not changed is the quality of experience that comes from Christian heart practices for me. The heart opening and coming alive. An alive presence within and around this human self. A sweet mix of pain and bliss in the heart. The world becoming, or rather revealing itself, as alive presence, heart, clarity and love. And also of everything else having to do with the heart, whatever their triggers appear to be, being included and fueling and flavoring the process. Any longing, any pain, any joy and bliss. All together, funneled into the heart practice.
What has changed in how it is related to. There used to be more identification with it, a holding onto it as a core of spirituality and spiritual practice. The qualities of heart practice is content of experience, and for years there was an attachment to this particular content, probably more than anything else.
Then came the dark night phase where this content, which was a constant companion for so long, went away. And in the struggle, the attachment to it somehow wore away as well. (Not by any conscious doing or practice, since I was unable to do any practice during this period, even when I tried.)
Now, when I do occasionally do a heart practice, the same quality of experience is there. The same quality of the heart coming alive, the fire, the alive presence, the sense of the world – all within and around this human self – being heart, clarity and love. And I still see how the human self realigns and reorganizes within this, in a very beautiful way.
But it is not related to the same way. Now, it is recognized more clearly as just experience, just content of awareness, coming and going, living its own life as anything else. There is an appreciation for its uniqueness and effects, but not held onto the same way.
For all its beauty, its reorganization of the human self, its opening up for heart awakening, and even possibly Ground awakening, it is also seen as just experience. There is an inherent neutrality in it, as anything else. All of its qualities and effects are, in a sense, formed from and within neutrality.
And while there was from the beginning a seeing of this, now there is also a thorough felt-sense of it.
We usually have an idea of some effects of some of our actions, mostly on those in our daily life. But we rarely know the ripple effects, including the indirect ones on people we have never met. To be honest, I probably don’t know most of the effects on people in my daily life.
Just as anything I do seem to have infinite causes, anything I do have infinite effects. And I am only aware of a tiny fraction of both.
I occasionally hear from people who changed something in their life because of something I said or did, and it is always touching to me. Sometimes, it is small. And sometimes, it is something bigger. (I recently met someone, by chance, who I had talked with briefly a few years back and had made a major life decision based on it, completely unexpectedly from my side.)
We never know the effects of what we do, which is why it is so important to engage in life even with small contributions. Maybe just a friendly interaction, or a sharing of information or something that has worked in our own life.
As Gandhi said, whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
Of course, we never know the effects of what we do, and can never control it. Something well meaning can have undesirable effects, in a conventional view, and something that comes from reactivity and confusion may turn out to be of great benefit.
If that was the whole story, it wouldn’t matter what we did.
But even from a conventional view, it matters. Well intentioned actions are certainly more likely to benefit than those which are not.
And looking a little deeper, we see that the way we relate to the wider world reflects how we relate to ourselves. When my heart is open and my life engaged, it is so towards others and myself. Whatever the effects of my actions on the wider world, these actions benefit and nurture me in that – very important – way.
So I can realize that I will never know most of the effects of my actions. That each action has infinite causes, so there is nothing personal there in that sense. That acting with an open heart is more likely to benefit others in a conventional way. That no matter what the effects, I don’t know what the outcome really is, even in a conventional way. (As the Chinese story of the man and the horse illustrates.) That acting from an open heart benefits myself in an immediate way. And that I can always learn from my experiences and feedback from the world on my actions.
It all goes together, and I can explore each one more in depth, making it more alive for me.
One of the many gifts of families is that they bring relationships we cannot so easily escape. Instead, we are invited to work with them more consciously, as they are, over the long term.
Some of the ways we can do this…
- Inquire into beliefs
- Being with our experience, fully allowing it in a heartfelt way
- Open our heart (to all of us, and all of ourself) through tong-len, prayer, well-wishing
- Working with the others on the relationships, clarifying, engaging, working things through and out as well as we can
- Allowing it all to humble us, wear of the hard edges, become more deeply and fully human, through receptivity at the view (inquiry), emotions (fully allowing and being with), and heart (tong-len, prayer, well-wishing)
And as usual, any of these can invite a shift in any and all of the others. For me, I find the shifts from the heart work especially noticeable.
Also, of course, the one relationship we cannot so easily escape is the one to ourselves. Any other one highlights aspects of this relationship. As we relate to ourselves, we relate to the wider world. (Or said in a more headless way, as this human self relates to itself, it relates to the wider world.)
Many combine Christianity and Buddhism in different ways these days, and it is interesting to explore some of the ways this happens.
It is of course possible to combine the two in a superficial way, without looking too much at the clashes between the philosophy of Buddhism and the mainstream theology of Christianity. But if we take it more seriously, we need at some point to reconcile the two in a more thorough way, and this usually happens through giving priority to one or the other.
We can give priority to the mainstream theology of Christianity, with its assumptions of the reality of a separate self and soul, and use whatever is useful in Buddhism within this context. Often, this means using some of the Buddhist practices for clarity of mind or for opening the heart.
We can give priority to Buddhism, with its emphasis on the inherent absence of a separate self anywhere, and use Christianity within this context. For instance, we can use Christian forms of prayer and meditation emphasizing the heart and embodiment. (In my own experience, the quality of heart awakening through Christian practices have a flavor quite distinct from that of Buddhism.)
Or we can give priority to the mystic’s view of Christianity, which already is pretty much aligned with the philosophy of Buddhism. Some Christian mystics describe oneness, a separate self one with God and all there is, but there are certainly many others who describe realized selflessness, as in Buddhism. In this case, there is a nice alignment of the philosophy and descriptions in both traditions, and we are free to use practices from both as well.
I participate in a group that has a tendency to opaqueness and inconsistent rules (including with finances), and I am in the process of rocking the boat to see what will happen.
Some interpersonal tensions are emerging, and it is a great opportunity to explore those things. How can I communicate and act clearly, fairly, and with integrity? What can I do on my own to work on this?
What I am doing on my own includes mostly projection work and heart centered practices, in different forms.
What beliefs are behind how I am reacting in this situation? The organization should be transparent, especially with finances. Is that true? Exploring this, I can at the very least gain some empathy and understanding of where they are coming from, and also some release from blindly being in the grips of that belief.
I can be with whatever emotions come up. In this case, some fluttering and occasional frustration, anger (not being heard) and fear (what will happen with me in relation to that group?) By being with these emotions, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, they are revealed as something else.
I have used tong-len practice, to take in whatever distress comes up in the others, and send to them whatever equanimity and clarity is here. This works both in terms of projections, in finding in myself what I see in them (rigidity, stuckness in old patterns, opaqueness, favoritism) and the other way around (clarity, compassion, wanting what is best), and for opening my heart. It evens the field containing all of us. There is a shift from a sense of split in the field to seeing it as seamless.
And I also visualize myself as them, one at a time. I see myself as their physical form, then personality and lives, and take time to allow a felt-sense to emerge. This too helps in working with projections, seeing in myself what I see in them, and in softening and opening my heart, opening for a genuine love for them as they are.
The practice of well-wishing, in any form, has many effects, and one of these is a sense of trust and reduced fear.
When there is a lack of well-wishing for others, there is often a caught-upness in stories about them, which includes different clashes between stories of what should be and what is (a.k.a. criticism, judgment). In the absence of an open heart, these stories tends to come more easily in the foreground.
This creates a sense of uneasiness in many ways.
First, engaging in a general atmosphere of judgment and criticism spares no-one, including myself.
Then, a discomfort in engaging in these thoughts about them, without them knowing, and what they would say or do if they knew.
And finally, discomfort from projections in two forms.
One is simply an assumption that since I engage in judgment of them, they will do the same towards me. I cannot help but to see in the world what is alive here and now. I own it, and it colors how I see the world.
The other is judgment arising, not fitting with my image of myself, and then seeing it in others and not so much in myself. I disown it, and project it on others and see it as directed towards myself. In both cases, it creates a sense of others judging me, which brings up uneasiness… and fear.
And fear also comes up in another form here: a fear of what would happen if I didn’t engage in criticism and judgment. A fear of becoming like them, or of the parts in my that shouldn’t be there, according to my stories about them, taking over.
When there is a well-wising for others, this all reverses. The same mechanisms play themselves out, but now with opposite effects.
I inevitably include myself in this atmosphere of well-wishing, and I see it in others – either as already there or at least as a potential. In my well-wishing for others and myself, as see all of us as we can be, as whole, with an open and receptive heart. This creates a sense of well-being, and a sense of basic trust and reduced fear.
And even if the surface manifestation is different, I know that this is how we all can be, and are when knots unravel. As Byron Katie says, I know everyone loves me, I just don’t expect them to realize it yet.
Engaging in well-wishing, my heart and mind become more receptive.
My heart opens to myself and others. There is empathy, recognition, finding the universally human in what comes up in any of us, and a sense of the health and wholeness of each of us – at our human level – when knots are allowed to dissolve. (Knots are created by shoulds and narrow identities, creating the appearance of splits at our human level, and these are allowed to dissolve through an open heart.)
And my mind opens as well, becoming more receptive to the views of others, and the (limited) truth in all stories and views, so I can more easily meet people where they are at.
The empathy and recognition of an open heart invites an open mind, and the receptivity of an open mind invites the empathy and recognition of an open heart.
I see more and more how a thorough relativism opens for a guidance by the heart.
When there is a thorough relativism at the levels of views and stories, a sincere investigation of each story and the truth in its reversals, there is a release from attachment to any of them. There is a freedom in how we relate to them and use them in our daily life. They become only tools of temporary and practical value. An aid for this human self to navigate and operate in the world.
And when there is a release from stories, it allows the heart to reveal itself.
An attachment to stories closes the heart. It creates beliefs and identities to be protected, it creates a sense of absolute truth and false at the level of thoughts, it creates a sense of contraction and constriction, it creates rigidity, it closes our heart down towards people and situations that do not conform with what our stories tells us are desirable. It splits the world down the middle, and closes our heart to one half of it.
So when there is a release from this attachment, the heart naturally opens to include what was previously left out.
There is a natural guidance from the heart, and the views – now liberated from beliefs – are in its service.
Far from nihilism, a true relativism leads to actions that are likely to be seen as wise and compassionate, especially if combined with some worldly maturity and wisdom.
The fluidity of views rests on the steady heart.
In real life, it is usually not as clear cut of course, but this is at least a pattern we can glimpse every time a belief bites the dust, and one that is revealed in its fullness when Ground noticed itself more clearly.
I just finished a bodywork intensive, and will write down a few things that came up over the last few days. One of the themes lately has been heart-felt seeing of what comes up at the human level, or a heart-felt being with. This is a being-with where the three centers are all included… the head (seeing), the belly (felt-sense) and the heart (loving, empathy).
Yesterday and today, a sadness came up, and if I try to push it away it becomes an “other” that is unpleasant and uncomfortable, an apparent hindrance. But if there is a heart-felt being with it, it is revealed as a sweet tenderness, which is also experienced as a nurturing fullness. From being an unwanted and uncomfortable distraction (when pushed away) it becomes a sweet nurturing supporting fullness.
Beyond this, I can of course explore the beliefs behind the sadness (my life should be different, in a specific way), tracking the process behind it, and so on.
The process of going from the absolute and back to include the relative happens many times and at many scales.
As with so much else, it is clearly seen through The Work where we start out with a belief (a story taken as true, and clashing with what is), examine it to thoroughly which allows the attachment to naturally fall away, finding the freedom and spaciousness on the other side of the belief, and then finally being free to play with the story again – now without taking it as more than just a story.
It can also happen as part of our deepening process into what and who we are (especially into what we are). At some point, all the usual dramas most of us are caught up in do not seem so interesting anymore. We see through them, knowing that they all come from attachment to stories, and that what people try to find through them (lasting fullfilment, freedom from suffering) cannot be found that way. During this phase, it may be difficult to engage with these stories both in our own life, and also when it shows up through others.
But then, as the process moves on, there is again the freedom to engage with these stories as they emerge through others. Now, we do it from the heart, through our heart connection with others.
The stories themselves may not be so interesting, yet they become a great tool for connecting with others at the heart and human levels.
This also happens after the void awakens to itself… the void shows up in the form of a human being interacting with this human self, and the heart opens up – especially if there is suffering there, and the connection happens in any way available, including through small talk. The fullness comes through the heart connection, not from the content of what is being said. Or anything being said… the connection can be there even in silence, people together doing their own quiet things.
And it is really what is already happening. Connections between people are very often an attempt to connect at heart and human levels, and the content is less important. The weather, what was on TV last night, or gossip about a neighbor will do just fine.
If it looks, at the surface, as anything else than am attempt at a heart and human connection, it is usually because beliefs gets in the way. Beliefs that makes it appear as if something that is should be different, which creates resistance, drama and struggle – within and among us. She shouldn’t support Bush. I need to make a good impression. I need acceptance. I need that raise. He reminds me of my uncle who I am not on very good terms with.
These are some things from preliminary explorations of the three centers… or rather, how Spirit is filtered through the three centers, and then in turn filtered through this human self. (As it is alive in immediate awareness.)
How Spirit is filtered through each…
- Heart… as alive presence. In general as a field of alive presence, in the heart region as the indwelling God, this alive presence specifically for this individual.
- Head… as awake luminous void, and all form as this awake void, inherent absent of an I with an Other.
- Belly… as smooth velvety round full luminous blackness.
Each of these are a field… what form arises within, to and as. Each one, transparent to the Ground, and no other than Ground itself. Each one, impersonal and personal (specifically for this, and any, human self) at the same time. Each one, infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, and responsive to this (and any) individual.
When these centers are awakened, even in an early phase, it allows for a seeing (head), loving (heart) and feeling (belly) of all as Spirit (Big Mind, Brahman, Tao). It is Spirit filtered through each center, and then seeing/loving/feeling itself through them.
At the human level, an awakened (even partially) center, allows for…
- Heart… receptivity, seeing myself in others, recognition, empathy, sense of intimacy, no separation.
- Head… receptivity, seeing stories as only stories, seeing the grain of truth in all the reversals of any story, revealing the inherent neutrality of the situation.
- Belly… a felt-sense of deep trust, safety, allowing for a deep reorganization and healing of the human self, especially at the emotional level.
The three centers are really one system… the deep felt-sense of trust from the belly center invites for a receptivity of the heart and head centers. The receptivity of the heart centers invites a receptivity of the head center, and also a deepening felt-sense of trust and safety. And the same goes for the head center.
The beauty of Spirit filtered through these three centers is how it allows for the impersonal aspects of Spirit and also the personal, the ones specifically for this and any other individual. It naturally and effortlessly seems to allow both into the foreground of awareness.
I also see how they each have come through in different phases of my life, allowing for an easier differentiation of each one. During the initial awakening, the head center awakened allowing for a seeing of all form as awake luminous void, inherently absent of any separate self anywhere. Then, the heart center awakened strongly, allowing for a loving of all as God, as Spirit. Then, over the last few months (partly through Breema, and partly through the endarkenment shift) the belly center, revealing all form as luminous blackness, velvety smooth, round, full, allowing for a deep sense of safety and trust for this human self, and a reorganization especially on the emotional level.
I have been exploring how the heart center combines with head and/or belly centers for different flavors.
When the head center is included, there is the usual empty luminosity and clarity of the head center there. A very yang brilliance (compared with the smooth fullness of Spirit filtered through the belly center, it is stark, almost a desert quality).
And when the belly center is included, there is the smooth, round fullness of the belly center, which allows a felt-sense of the heart qualities.
And together, there is even more sense of fullness and richness… the love of the heart center, the empty luminosity of the head center, and the velvety smooth round fullness of the belly center. The loving, seeing and feeling of all as Spirit.
I also notice, as I did early on with the belly center awakening, that bringing in the head and belly centers together invites the heart in as well. Although it is certainly possible to start with any one, and bring either or both of the others in.
Of course, there is not really any “bringing in” of anything… all three are there, but it is possible to invite one or more into the foreground of awareness… shifting each one more into the foreground or background.
I keep repeating this, and many other things, so I must need it!
Three centers, unified individually and together
When the heart is unified, open to all and everything, it invites the head (view) and belly (emotions, feelings) to be unified as well, and all the three centers tend to function in a more aligned way. (From the little I know about Gurdjieff, I think he talked about something similar, and it is one of the main guidelines in Breema as well.)
Three centers formed within a sense of I and Other, or all as Spirit
Heart, view and emotional patterns formed within a sense of I and Other naturally tends to function in a split way. The heart is open some times and towards some people, and closed other times and other people. The view is split, seeing Existence as inherently divided in various ways. The emotions are reactive. The three centers are often not very well aligned.
Heart, view and emotions formed within a sense of all as Spirit naturally tend to function in a unified way. The heart is open to all situations and people. The view reflects more of a nondual realization. The feelings gives a sense of fullness, nurturing and support. The three centers are aligned.
This is very much alive in my daily life. I notice my heart closing off towards someone or something, and the view and emotions automatically follow. The view becomes more dualistic, gives a stronger sense of I and Other, and becomes more rigid and inflexible. The emotions are reactive. And I experience not only the world as split, but my individual self as divided as well.
But if there is the intention of well-wishing, maybe even in the form of prayer for the other person (for all the best unfolding), it changes. My heart becomes unified, open to the world. The view is less split, seeing myself in the other, and all of us in the same boat. My feelings become full, nurturing and supportive. I experience the world and my individual self as more unified.
There is of course an infinity of things happening when our individual self is organized within a sense of I and Other, and then reorganized within all as Spirit.
For instance, when there is a sense of I and Other, there is also resistance, and this resistance is reflected in each of the three centers. The heart is closed. The view sees a split between I and Other, and resists certain ways the world is and certain experiences. The emotions are reactive.
When the centers are reorganized within all as Spirit, the resistance gives way for receptivity. The heart is receptive and open. The view is receptive and more fluid. The feelings are receptive and nurturing.
These seed patterns are reflected throughout our being, including our physical bodies. Within a context of I and Other, our body becomes more rigid, tense, defensive, inflexible, and armored, just as the rest of us. And within a context of all as Spirit, or rather a felt sense of all as Spirit, it becomes relaxed, receptive and supple.
This happens over time, making our bodies a literal embodiment of our sense of the world. And it also happens instantaneously. I close my heart off, and immediately, my muscles tense up (for me, especially the calves.)
Our body, as every other part of us, naturally reflects a sense of the world as split, or of all as Spirit.
I notice that there is an immediacy, simplicity and sense of deep quietness in the connection (and communication) with the alive presence, which is everywhere yet also centered right here in the heart. And also how there are the usual shifts between 2nd, 3rd and 1st person relationships with it, from You to describing it to I. Often nowadays, there is the sense of doubleness, of being both the familiar personality and this alive presence, of both as 1st person (and 2nd, and 3rd) at the same time.
I assume this doubleness is characteristic of one phase of the process. First, there is a center of gravity in our familiar identity, usually connected with the personality, and the alive presence is experienced as You. Then, the doubleness, being both at once. Then, the alive presence comes into the foreground, as a new sense of identity, and the personality goes into the background and is transmuted in this process, becoming more and more in service to the presence.
Throughout this overall process, there is also the shifts between 2nd, 3rd and 1st person relationships with the presence, as cycles within cycles.
From the past, I am familiar with God as the field of awake emptiness and form, always and everywhere. This seems to be Spirit filtered through the head center, showing up in its impersonal, transcendent, yang aspect.
More recently, filtered through the belly center, it showed up as fertile darkness, and also as the alive luminosity, and now as alive luminous blackness. Intimate, deep, fertile, alive, infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive. Spirit filtered through the belly center, showing up in its personal, embodied, yin aspect.
And what happened last night may have to do with Spirit filtered through the heart center, as alive presence, as an aspect of God awakened and present in the heart region. The experience of it is really of an aspect of God right here, alive, present, right here in the heart region. Responsive, infinitely loving and intelligent. And something to communicate with in a very direct, simple, quiet way. After being with this for a while last night, I mentioned it to my partner, and then realized that this may be the Antaryamin, the indwelling God, mentioned frequently by Bhagavan.
When I first heard him speak about it last fall (in a video interview), I couldn’t quite connect with it. I have been familiar with the impersonal head center awakening of everything as awake emptiness and form. But here, there is no inside or outside, and it is all Spirit, so the term “indwelling God” does not make so much sense.
But what I noticed in my heart region last night is experienced very much as an aspect of God right there, in the heart center, as an indwelling God.
I wake up in the morning, and want to work on my heart, allowing it to come more alive again. (It shut down during the dark night.)
Christ appears and takes my heart. It is red, small and made of plastic, an artificial heart. He squeezes it an a luminous golden Christ sphere pops out of it. The plastic heart remains. Nothing more is happening.
Later in the day, I ask who can help with the plastic heart. Soil comes, dark, moist, crumbly. The plastic heart goes into the soil and is gradually composted, through intention and time. A new heart is then formed on the surface of the soil, available. The luminous Christ sphere enters the heart and it radiates, ready to be brought into my life.
There is a sense of another phase still in the future, and the composting happening now.
No new insight, but coming alive in a different way for me now:
To be wholehearted is to receive the whole of the world in my heart.
If my heart is open to some beings and not others, to some aspects of myself and not other aspects, to some situations and not other situation, it is split, broken, partially open, or open only part of the time. If my open heart is only available to some beings, aspects and situations, that means it is available to myself only partially, only some of the time. It is available only half-heartedly, including to myself.
If my heart is open for all beings, all aspects, all situations, it is whole. It is available wholeheartedly. It is available to myself wholeheartedly. With its sense of fullness, warmth, connection, passion, belonging, softening, healing, deepening, coming home.
Beliefs is the reason for half-heartedness. A person, aspect or situation arise, I see it as wrong, and close my heart off.
So inquiring into beliefs is one way to allow them to fall away and the heart to open. When it functions without the filter of beliefs, it is naturally open – available to anyone, any situation.
Another is to allow the person or situation into my heart, which in turns allows the belief to soften.
This, again, is pretty obvious, but worth mentioning as a reminder for myself…
Any situation can close or open our heart.
A simple example from a couple of days ago: I see an abandoned cat at a truck stop, spend some time making friends with it so I can catch it and find a home for it, and somebody – in spite of seeing me and the cat, walks quickly next us, the cat is scared, runs off, and is not seen again.
So here, I can close my heart to the guy who scared the cat off without concern for it. In this case, the compassion for the cat, and for myself, gets caught up in the drama of closing my heart off from the guy. There is a lot of resistance to experience, and discomfort.
Or I can open my heart to everyone involved, to the cat, to myself, to the guy who scared the cat. We are all in the same boat here. We all operate from conditioning. We all want happiness and freedom from suffering. There is no difference here. So in this case, there is no drama, just a heart open to everyone in the situation. There is peace. No need to resist experience.
And this is the case with any situation.
When I notice that I use a particular situation to close my heart, I can see if I can include the person I closed my heart off from in my compassion. And really, the person I am closing my heart off from is always myself. I close my heart off, and it is closed off from myself right there.
So any situation can either open or close my heart.
When my heart is open to some beings and not to others, it opens and closes depending on where attention goes, and there is confusion, drama, a sense of something to protect, and constant work in analyzing the situation, comparing it with beliefs, and then deciding who to open and close my heart towards. It’s a lot of work, and does not give much peace or satisfaction.
When I include everyone indiscriminately, it is much easier, much less work, more peaceful, and gives a sense of fullness and connection. It even helps me to function and interact from more clarity.
I also notice that when I open or close my heart, I mainly open or close it towards myself. I am the one who lives with the effects of it, 24/7.