We hold each other prisoners of the past, accidentally bypassing the fact that nothing stays the same. We do know that people grow through experience, but it seems difficult to forget what we ‘know’ about those who have been a part of our lives. There is a petty holding on to the past, this ‘placing people where we think they belong’ could be considered our enemy or a major hurdle to jump over in our lives. Most of our enemies are inside us, the human species has a tendency to be a slave to his/her thoughts, regurgitating the ‘story’ of what and who we believe others to be, and even more serious, who we believe ourselves to be.
Community of Humanity
Buddhists have a word called Sangha, I like this word, it is often interpreted as ‘community of monks’, there are other similar meanings where it implies to other kindred souls on the Buddhist path. There is a broader way of looking at it, in the big picture view I would define it as ALL BEINGS, purely because we are all in this together, all with our own challenges and distractions. If I look at it from another perspective I could define it as a tribe or people of like mind; whether these definitions are true is not overly important but it is useful for me to get an idea across.
We have all seen the situation where a person may not be a smoker or drinker, but if they hang around regularly with people who have these habits, they could easily take these things on as part of their lifestyle. As children we were warned about the company we keep, stay away from the ‘bad kid’ or we may end up the same. We are impressionable beings. I usually try and hang out with brilliant people and those with a gentle spirit. If we are sensitive people when we go into a hotel where it’s rowdy and rough, we may find it very uncomfortable to be in that environment, to others it’s a ‘what’s wrong with you, get over it’. I will state that I don’t think being ‘sensitive’ is important at all, I say this as a sensitive person, there are very wise people who have the sensitivity of a sledgehammer. When we go to a place of meditation or an environment where good works are done, we often get an uplifting feeling, this is no accident, we feel the world around us.
Network of Thought
There is a grid of thought that surrounds us, this is one of the reasons why cities are chaotic, it’s not just the noise, the pollution, the traffic, men in dark suits, the hustle and bustle with no rustle of leaves and the absence bright colours of spring or the shades of autumn, we have unconsciously created a network of thought that wraps around everything; we extend way beyond our bodies. There are clusters of thought pollution, I could call it ‘psychic smog’ and also there are some islands of refuge, empty churches with their spacious reverb, gardens or big old trees to lie under. When we go to the country, in the open spaces we feel better because we are not getting battered by the floating ‘debri’ thought particles from others that invades our thinking.
When we are away for long periods of time from our families or people we have spent large portions of our lives with, we no doubt change. What life serves up brings about wisdom, we transform into different people, we may also develop new personas or patterns of behaviour, neurosis, or even drop things from our lives that were part of our shadow, we may gradually overcome those things that were not the best part of our personalities.
A New World
However, it is an aspect of human nature to place people exactly in the same space where we knew them, even if years have passed. The whole world is caught in the past. I have noticed that when people come to a new country they can ‘reinvent’ themselves, it obviously does depend on the environment they move to, and the amount of personal power and energy, they often succeed in a new world; personally I think it is because they have the opportunity to reconstruct their world view and can detach from the opinions that others have of them. Our loved ones can stunt our growth and ‘hold’ us in the position where we have always been; regardless of their unquestionable love, it can suffocate our unborn future. It is critical to those around us to see them as a creative-process-in-motion and allow and trust that they have enough insight to be able to carve out a pathway forward unhindered by our opinion of who and what we believe them to be. I think there is a need for us to see the good in others, regardless of their habits they have that may be destructive; if possible we can try to hold them safely for a while and say ‘you have endless potential’. People we love have a deep trust in our opinions at a subconscious level, if we can’t see the success and potential in them, we will ultimately undermine them.
People often don’t feel safe when someone they love changes, they are comfortable with the ‘old someone’, the new version requires a shift in the eye of the beholder. When a husband or wife takes on new habits or friends, if the partner is insecure they often object and undermine their loved one. In a way relationships can be like letting out a kite string, allowing someone to fly but keeping a gentle hold on the ‘attachment’ string.
Letting Others Be
If there is a secret to life, and yes there are many, I think it is to be able to undo the story we have about others, to understand change does happen, regardless that some habits and patterns are deeply engraved. We need to trust in the unfolding process that is a part of nature and allow others to have enough space without our opinions about who we believe them to be and holding them back. It is strangers who usually see the brilliance in those around us, their eyes are fresh, uncoloured by history, it is their ‘unknowing’ that permits them to experience the beauty and genius of our loved ones that we can so easily miss.
by Tilopa 2.0