Buddhist Reflection: Meeting Others Where They Are & Loving Kindness

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This particular blog post has been sitting in my drafts for at least six months now….

Last month I posted the following status message on FB:

I wish some of the people in my life loved themselves as much as I loved them. That would be a wonderful thing to witness.

Along those same lines , a few days ago I tweeted “Surrounded by so many broken people that I can’t find which pieces go to which puzzle.”

What I’ve learned during my spiritual journey is that the biggest part of Buddhist practice is meeting others where they are. I mean exactly where they are. Regardless of whether or not they are in a good place or a bad one. Such a stance requires a lot of things like patience, a letting go of expectations and judgement, and an open mind. It’s a separate practice all its own. Learning to meet others where they are is a training in abandoning the ego. We all have the tendency to judge others by our own standards. We often hold the people in our lives accountable for the way we think they should be and when they fail to meet our expectations we respond with harshness. But once we let go of our expectations and judgement our hearts soften–we are much more understanding.

That softening of the heart is where the loving kindness comes in. The crumpling of my own personal emotional walls was met with sadness. Sadness because I find myself surrounded by so many beautiful and amazing people who don’t know just how wonderful they are. People who are so hard on themselves, full of self-doubt and self hate. People who are broken into so many tiny little pieces with  no idea how to put themselves back together.

Loving kindness starts with the self. This is why metta starts with the meditator visualizing himself/herself as they recite the mantras of loving kindness. Buddhism understands that we can never fully love another if we don’t love ourselves. Yet, for some reason,  it’s so much easier to love others before ourselves. Though it may be easier

The most I can do is accept the place they are at and meet it with understanding. I still love the people in my life no matter what. It is always my hope that the unconditional kindness I show them is enough to help them realize that they are worthy of the self-love they deserve.

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