Wednesday, March 4, 2020

open space

Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling.
Only in an open space where we're not all caught up
 in our own version of reality can we see
 and hear and feel who others really are, 
which allows us to be with them and 
communicate with them properly.

We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from 
communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts
 of who's right and who's wrong. We do that with the people 
who are closest to us, and we do it with political systems, 
with all kinds of things that we don't like about our associates
 or our society. 
Blaming is a way to protect our hearts, to try to protect what is soft 
and open and tender in ourselves.
Blame is away in which we solidify ourselves. 
Not only do we point the finger when something is "wrong,"
 but we also want to make it "right."

We start with ourselves. We make ourselves right or wrong, every day, 
every week, every month and year of our lives.  When we feel right,
 we feel good, especially if we have people agreeing with us
 about how right we are. Suppose someone disagrees, then what? 
 Do we find ourselves getting angry and aggressive?  We might see
 that this is what wars are make of. Whether we judge ourselves
 "right" or "wrong," the judgement gives us the satisfaction 
of "knowing." This way we avoid the awkward unsettled uncomfortableness
 of continuing to look more deeply at our words or behavior.

Until we can become comfortable hanging out with ourselves
 without leaping to judgement it will be very difficult to just be with another,
 to share and be truly compassionate. Learning to accept and live in a space
 of the awkwardness of not knowing, to replace self-judgement with gentleness
 is needed to move into the broken-open hearted  
compassion that truly reflects who we are.

~ Pema Chodron
from When Things Fall Apart