Take notice of everyone who comes to mind — and note your reactions
By Edward Hirsch
A simple but powerful practice: Pay attention to everyone — everyone! — who comes across your mind today, including yourself, and notice your response or reactions — such as desire, aversion or judgment. Even attachment — which has roots in the belief that the person is a real, separate entity in itself (and that you yourself are).
You can simply practice this noticing, or you could go further and practice loving-kindness, wishing them well and, basically, Namaste (the Spirit, Light, God in me honors That in you). Yes, make it addressed to “you,” as if you were in direct connection with them and not just an idea or image in your mind. This added practice might seem a bit too much. If so, you can simply return to the noticing practice.
But really, you might discover that the Love-Wisdom of Namaste is already there as an underlying foundation when being greets being, or Spirit greets Spirit. This becomes apparent when the obscurations clear away, and they do clear away when you recognize them as mere obscurations, like restless waves on the ocean. It is all illusory drama, and when you can recognize that, you don’t add any energy to it, and it departs, or its energy plays out and unwinds like old karmic patterns.
This is an excellent practice to purify your mind. And when you recognize that it is basically a practice of purification, you recognize it is all about you and not about others. Others are merely a mirror for you to recognize your inner work. And if you are open to Love-Wisdom as your inmost nature, it is not even so much work as effort; it is, rather, an effortless return to your True Nature.
Now, this might sound like it is all self-preoccupation, that you are trapped in your own bubble of mind. Yes, it could devolve into that, and it might even need to be that for a time in terms of a focus of attention. But as you recognize that there is no real separation between your mind and others, or your self and others, you return to the Namaste which is beyond separate hearts, separate minds, and separate selves. This is the Great Work, and it takes dedication, but it is simple in any moment. Further, you come to recognize that this is not “your” work so much as the Great Work of Spirit working or flowing through you — and so you let it, and you love it.
Now, you might point out that this is a lot more difficult in actual relating with others, in the thick of the moment and life circumstances. Yes, so it is. And then, all the better to do your inner work to clear your mind, so that you won’t have this added obscuration at work as a covering or layering over your actual interactions. Commit to your own inner work and do not expect or demand others to be committed to their own inner work.
That would be an uphill battle and would add unnecessary complication to your work, like taking on the burden of the world. With some people, you might make a simple request to slow down, take a breath or listen. Or you might take the initiative to do this yourself, and this might set the pace for the other. And with some people, and in some circumstances, there is nothing you can do, and you just hold your peace. And then be sure that, in your own mind, you don’t later focus on reactions and judgments or merely dismissing them.
Do you feel that these are all counsels of perfection? Can you intuit that they point to our natural state that is Always Already True and Real, without any effort, and that it is just a matter of releasing obscurations? In any case, begin where you are in the simple present moment. You will make mistakes, again and again, and then you can observe any reactivity you have in relation to yourself (which is not yourself but your obscurations and conditionings).
Sincere repentance is helpful, as well as asking for forgiveness, first giving that to yourself. Again and again, return to your natural state, and this will help you, as in a sense, you cannot do this yourself (for there really is no separate doer or separate self).
Edward Hirsch, M.A., teaches about the Practice of Presence at OLLI and offers free weekly Zoom meetings in the teachings and practices of Presence, Saturdays 1 to 2:30 p.m., on a drop-in basis. us02web.zoom.us/j/84805886301.
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