We only practice love and kindness when is not an inconvenience to us
he practice of love and kindness involve being patient and tolerant with others. We put other people’s priorities first; we sit with unpleasant situations rather then turning them away from us. We try not to focus on what is best for us but rather what is good for everyone.
Loving kindness is suppose to lead us to a better understanding of the world. Loving kindness works because it let’s us see how everything is relative to other events and no single issue exist on its own; it help us see that things are not just there to bother us. We see that there is no premeditated intention but only action and consequences.
Love and kindness should transform our opinions into insignificant grains of sand. We should practice more love and kindness to help heal a increasingly violent world. However, reading about love and kindness and talking about is cheap, putting it to work is a whole different ball game.
Love and kindness is easy when we talk about other people’s problems. Or we talk about it as a theory, just like I’m doing in this post. We can read self help books, go to spiritual talks, listen carefully to a spiritual teacher. We understand everything at the moment but later when we actually have to practice love and kindness, nothing seem to work. Our best teacher is the guy with a loud boombox who enters a quiet room; let me try to explain.
I have this imaginary most annoying guy in the world as a metaphor. The boombox guy is the real thing. My fantasy goes like this: Imagine for a moment that you are at a lecture about love and kindness. The discussion is going well and you are reaching a point of high understanding and it feels real good with your friends; you are empowered by the talk. Suddenly this most annoying guy walks in with a loud boombox in his shoulders. From the speakers, the loudest and angriest gangster rap you can conceive pours out.
Someone walk up and asks him to turn it off but instead he turns it up. Immediate you sense the outrage of the students and some are getting pretty mad. Someone finally call the police. The guy finally leaves fearing getting arrested. Everyone is shaken and unsettled and the whole mood change to a somber one. OK let’s go back to our seats, calm down and talk about love and compassion again. But the boombox guy ruined for everyone.
It’s easy to practice love and kindness when everything is dandy and we are sitting in our cozy living rooms reading a spiritual book and thinking about love and kindness. But the minute our peace is threatened we no longer feel warm and fuzzy, we become aggressive and forget all the great things we were learning a minute ago.
“reading about love and kindness and talking about is cheap, putting it to work is a whole different ball game”
If we can’t feel it while we’re reading it, we just pretend we are loving and kind to impress others but inside we are angry. I think this is a pretty silly conundrum but we fall into this trapping over and over. So what can we do to address our conflict of interest without getting mad? This is the real deal. I can’t say I’m always successful, but here’s some things that have worked for me in the past. You need that when the guy with the boombox doesn’t go away at all.
#1 Stay with the problem
The mind wants quick resolution for every type of problem. We are trained to get results, and in modern society we want results fast. Action…action…action. Results…results…results. But because the nature of things is temporary nothing stays put for too long. We also are allergic to problems and unpleasant things and we want to get rid of them. The more we want them to go away the more they stay.
It’s kind of like playing reverse psychology with a problem, as if it was a child. When a child will not give you the toy you just sit there and wait long enough you’ll see that the child will simply drop the toy on the floor. Your perception of change, or rather the simple fact you are aware of change will also – create change.
Pema Chödrön used to say: when you’re meditating and all of a sudden you have a itch on the left ear. Don’t rush there to itch, use that to practice seating with a problem. This will take a lifetime of work to accomplish but is worth every second you spend doing it. This is so important I think 90% of our problems can be solved by simply waiting.
#2 Allowing yourself to be mad
We are emotional beings and we have to allow ourselves to get angry and mad sometimes. If we fake that we’re not mad we turn into hypocrites. I think there is nothing wrong in getting mad. The problem is how long do you stay mad and how far out of context do you take the whole “getting mad thing”. Emotions shouldn’t last long. They should dissipate as quickly as they arise.
The reason is so hard to be tolerant is because there is a conflict of interest that needs resolution. The trick is on how we address this conflict. When our ego is involved there will always be more conflict. We are just protecting our interest, and that is OK. Getting mad is also not a big deal as long as we don’t get carried away with it.
#3 Create space between things – diffuse conflict
The other good thing we can try is to create space between the conflicting issues. Creating space means that we are better able to see the problems as they are and we don’t mix them with other things that are around. We can remove ourselves from the situation and wait a little. Things have a tendency to dissipate on their own. And if we add room is even quicker or at least less painful.
Think of a problem with someone at work. Mary is so bossy you can’t stand talking to her. All of a sudden Mary is your friend and the whole thing just blew over. If we breathe some air and allow some time to go by usually things just dissipate, and that’s a big component of how to diffuse conflict.
#4 See yourself in others
Empathy is the mother of all love and kindness. What works is that we can realize ourselves in others. We can see that in life we have been in all kinds of situations. life is like a game of musical chairs. We don’t have to be upset we are having this chair now. Soon the music begins to play and we find ourselves seating in another chair.
I am not referring to situations where one is clearly in danger. I am referring to the not so obvious situations. Like you live with someone who bugs you and you want to just move away. Like a co-worker you can’t stand but have to be with everyday and confrontation becomes inevitable.
Sometimes by not wanting to rock the boat we become complacent rather than patient and benevolent. It’s funny how some people go to extremes to show that they practice love and kindness and let themselves be abused or abuse others. We have to be able to access the situation quickly but then relax. We can actually arrest someone with love and kindness, it is just an attitude adjustment.
I guess the trick is to get to do what we want without using aggression. If we decide we are getting the rotten end of the deal and we are not going to sit there and take it, there is no blame involved but if we use aggression to get our way there will be a cascade reaction because violence always generates more violence.
So we state what we want in the best possible way, decide the course of action which minimize aggression in every possible way and hope for some luck and the best for everyone, minimize our ego, have some patience. Just by using these tactics we can change a conflict. Easier said than done.
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