Finding a Place in the Other's Heart

Sitting here on the banks of the river Ganga in the holy city of Varanasi in India, I can see the fires of the cremation grounds on the other shore. 

Life is short. Every day is passing. So often, we go through life spending so much time and energy carrying resentments towards others, towards ourselves, towards the world. How long are we going to hold on to this negativity? We know one day it’s all going to end.

Somebody once asked my Guru, “What is the dharma (responsibility) of a human being?” He said in very simple words, “Live in such a way that you find space in another’s heart.” If we have been able to do that throughout our life, our time on this earth has not been wasted.

There are so many people in our lives – spouses, partners, children, family, friends, co-workers, teachers, students, neighbors, by-standers. What type of effort do we really make to find a space in their hearts? Sometimes disagreements arise and we feel threatened. The immediate reaction is to try to protect ourselves and to justify our way of thinking. We become totally blind to the needs of the other in those moments.

When we take a step back and shift the focus from defending ourselves towards compassion for the other we save ourselves from so much trouble. All the energy that we spend in arguing and in negativity can be directed in a positive way – towards finding a place in the other’s heart. The time that we spend consumed in “me and my story” can be used to make someone else’s life a little better.  This is living a life of service and living this way brings meaning to our life.  

It does require humility and some sacrifice. It requires that we let go of our need to be “right” or our need to be first in line. It requires that we try to put ourselves in the other’s shoes and consider what their needs in the moment may be.  

When we live in the world with the sentiment of “What can I do for you,” we find a place in the hearts of others.  Likewise, we expand our own hearts to allow space for the other.

It’s not always easy. But it works. It always works.

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