Filled With Loving Kindness: Otherwise

How did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its being,
Otherwise,
We all remain
Too frightened

Hafiz

Otherwise.  I think lately I’ve been caught in a place called “otherwise.”  It’s that place where no light seems to shine.  The way to “otherwise” is a fairly easy journey.  Take any worry that rises up today, for whatever reason, from whatever source.

(Sidenote:  the most ancient part of the human brain, the reptilian brain, is wired to worry. Worry is a natural protection device that once kept our ancient ancestors on the lookout for the saber tooth tiger or some other predator.  It’s what makes us get up in the middle of the night to check on our children and make sure they are breathing, tucked in, safe and warm.  It’s what makes us think to pay bills each month, to look both ways before crossing a road or turning left at a red light.  Worry.  We do it naturally).

Take any worry that rises up today, foster it just a little bit until it becomes a fear, and the road to “otherwise” will magically open up in front of us.  All light is immediately sucked out of the atmosphere.  The warmth goes away.  The road to “otherwise” is short, and it is, as you may guess, a dead end.  Once we arrive at the dead ended road that leads to “otherwise,” we close in on ourselves, shrink into a fetal position where we have nothing to do but to foster each worry into a new fear.  There’s only one way out of “otherwise.”

It happens when some other soul, filled with loving kindness, decides to travel down this dark, dead end road to see who that is lying there on the ground all curled up.  When the person lying in “otherwise” feels the light and the warmth of loving kindness, like the rose, they find the ability to open up their heart and give their love, again, to the world.

Otherwise.  I might go there today, and I will need your loving kindness, the sunlight that you are.  Otherwise.  You might go there today, and you will need my loving kindness, the sunlight that I am.  Otherwise.

The practice of loving kindness is no more a luxury than is the sun rising today.  Without it, we are lost.

Bob Patrick

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