“Sometimes we think that to develop an open heart, to be truly loving and compassionate, means that we need to be passive, to allow others to abuse us, to smile and let anyone do what they want with us. Yet this is not what is meant by compassion.Quite the contrary. Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world.” Sharon Salzberg
Everyday I find myself irritated with so many people, that I wonder if they are living in a fog. Of course if I think long enough about it, I realize I am a bit impatient with these people. It doesn’t make their annoyances any more acceptable, but I manage to hold my criticism in for the most part. I never consider myself impatient. My tolerance level has always been commendable, but there lies the secret. I do endure the trivial complaining of others but deep down I resent the issues people complain about. I guess I am a secret judge.
The revelation of my estimations, took me by surprise one day. Outwardly I keep most of my opinions to myself. I may join a discussion but I attempt to remain neutral for the sake of keeping peace and also to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. There are times when the disagreements turn into a confrontation, but being set in my ways keeps me strong in my viewpoints. This allows me to stand firm in my sentiments.
One day I began noticing people behaving in a similar fashion towards me. They appeared to quickly change the subject, didn’t look me in the face when talking, and cut me off mid sentence. When I spoke about a subject I was more than interested in, they stopped listening before I was finished, and never asked questions. I quickly came to the realization that we all irritate others in all kinds of ways, and are not privy to this knowledge, most of the time. The more I investigated my theory, the more confirmation I had that I was correct in my sentiments.
Now to totally believe that you are courteous to others, respectful of their opinions and tolerant of their quirks makes this new found knowledge of your fraudulent manner, a huge revelation. I would say it came as quite a shock to me. I am not saying I am perfect but I never considered I was ever an irritation to others. After getting over the shock, and contemplating the why and meaning of it all, I concluded that it was likely true that I could be annoying to others at times.
Of course as misery likes company, I came to understand how much we all tolerate others on any given day. The person who jumps in to speak before others are finished is a pest. We have the authoritative person who states statistics on their side in order to confirm the winning argument. There is the person who wears you down with talk until you yell uncle and give up. The loud people always get their ideas across and the impatient people are scary.
I know there are those with bothersome habits that make one want to scream stop tapping the table or running your finger over the cup. You don’t do it. All you do is look away and take a deep breath. Some people whine and complain about everything and anything to the point that you’d like to say go back home and go to bed. Certain people arrive with a negative attitude before they open their mouths. Others always have an ache or pain which is possible, but on those days you want to say it is my turn to complain so be quiet. I love those people who say an outfit isn’t new when you give them a compliment. Some people believe they have the hardest life, the most difficult circumstances to endure, and the saddest story to tell. I let them win for sure becasue I don’t want their problems. You have the complainers who appear to never be content nor pleased. For some people we speak too slowly and don’t finish quick enough to suit them. Others dislike vulnerability, openness and gentleness. It is as if they distrust these virtues.
Most of us believe strength is power and endurance. We don’t think of quiet suffering as endurance. We almost dislike these people for not complaining. We tolerate other races and people from different economic groups yet we frown upon our own siblings who appear to be boastful. The question is why, because who cares about our possessions and accomplishments. The list is endless for what we find exasperating. Most of these bothersome occurrences are never brought to light and we must all be thankful for that.
The majority of people keep their touchiness about others under wraps. Now if the truth is out in the open, we are all attempting to tolerate each other. We just don’t perceive our own annoying traits. It is a good thing we cannot mind read each others thoughts. We might behold a totally different picture of how others perceive us.
Being vulnerable and accepting our weaknesses is actually a reflection of strength. Only a strong person has the power to expose their weaknesses without feeling threatened. We are not superhuman and we all experience the same loves hates and annoyances. Perhaps our pretenses ought to be removed and our defenselessness witnessed. None of us enjoy being made fun of or becoming the butt of the joke. We hang on to our pride, to the point of exhaustion. It would be a relief to really become tolerant in reality rather than in secretive resentment that we hide.
Of course by being more open, we might stop some of the gossiping which frequently occurs behind the backs of others. By stopping the criticisms, we stop measuring our own hurts against the pains of another. Age, sex, economic status, and other tools of assessment are not as important as the fact that pain and aches resonate with all of us. When we say we are all in the same boat, nothing could be more honest. Most os us feign good fortune as well as the extent of suffering. Some exaggerate while others pretend they are invincible. In the end the conclusion is clear. We are all defenseless when it comes to the sorrows of life.
Probably the ways we choose to endure life and those irritating quirks we pick up along the way, may drive people undercover. Lifting the blanket of impatience, we discover an actual person who has feelings, loves, desires, sufferings, pains, and opinions. They are quite similar to us and they witness our faults as well as their own. Human nature should cause us to pause and reflect on that annoying mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, parent, friend and even enemy. At some future time we might find ourselves making the same mistakes as we find so annoying in others at the present moment in time.
For me it is time to fess up to my total vulnerability in all areas of life. There are those times I profess to be stronger and more powerful than I actually am. I hide my pain and my sufferings and fears. Actually most of us hide fears even from ourselves. We wonder why we are nervous and stressed yet can’t see the issues may be related to our haunting fears. If we can overcome our vulnerability, and tolerate ourselves, we then might be able to put up with others. Bringing tolerance into the situation sends some honesty and understanding into the equation. We are more alike than we are different. We stop seeing failures as making us less than acceptable. We end our regard of weakness as defeat, helplessness as childish, defenselessness as failure, and susceptibility as deferment of our own abilities. To be human is to be weak, helpless defenseless and at times, a failure. What we can’t forget is that being human permits empathy, kindness understanding acceptance and tolerance to become a part of a humane life-style. That is the essence of true tolerance.
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Dalai Lama XIV
“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways–either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
“If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding.” Dalai Lama XIV
“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children dont usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” Dalai Lama XIV