I hope I am not being a self-righteousness old so n’ so when I say that I try to be friendly with everyone I meet and to do my best to hold people positively in my heart.
OK, not everyone will be our friend. The friends we have are our choice. But we can be friendly to everyone, especially to those people who feel outcasts in our society, as it does so much to help them feel more included. And one of the sad things about the world we live in is that many of us learn to be exclusive, to separate ourselves, to only share ourselves with those whom we feel ‘deserve it’ or whom we know well. That was me in the old days and it played a big role in why I often felt unhappy. I lived disconnected from the world.
I remember so well being in my early twenties, living in London and feeling very lonely, and I was in the Kings Road, Chelsea, when an old lady saw me sitting on a bench looking miserable and she came up to me and said ‘You look so sad but you seem a nice young man!’ She spent fifteen minutes cheering me up , just being kind and funny, and I began to feel so much better.
She’d taken the trouble to go up to a stranger and talk to him. Again, in our ‘British society’ we learn not to do this ‘unless we’ve been formally introduced!’
Before she left, she said these wise words to me:
‘Don’t get lost in your misery.’ (I was.) ‘But go out and be kind to people. Connect with them. That will heal you. Be open. Just be your simple self with those around you and they will feel better and you will feel better’.
Easier said than done. I saw how hard this was for me, how closed I was and how closed so many people were. At school, our minds get trained, not our hearts. And that is a huge misfortune. It certainly was for me!
Well, her words stayed with me. It took me some years to learn to open up even just a little. I needed to work hard at it. But as I gradually did, all areas of my life also began to open up, and I discovered that it enabled me spontaneously to give of myself to other people, to hold them kindly in my heart and that when I could do this, I would also feel more connected not only to myself, but also to my world. I was also able to be kinder and less judgemental of myself.
I like what the Dalai Lama said about this:
‘Be kind and merciful Let no one ever come to you without feeling better and happier…..’
I think it is the way for us to feel better and happier as well!
On the evening of Monday, July 31st, I am doing a webinar with my dear, lovely friend Steve Taylor on the theme of friendliness, friendship and community. If you are not busy that evening, please join us. We feel these themes are so important in today’s society.
The Oxford Dictionary defines liberation as: ‘the act of setting someone free from slavery, imprisonment or oppression’. Liberation, therefore, has both inner and outer dimensions which are intrinsically inter-related because if we are not free inside ourselves, it will inevitably limit our ability to live a liberated outer life, even if the society we live in is a relatively free one. The same can hold true the other way around as well. Many of us, therefore, need liberating not only…