What is it about other people that drives you crazy? Do dishonest people make you angry? Do slow drivers make your blood boil? Examine your likes and dislikes and you’ll discover how you have defined yourself. By labeling someone as “cruel” you define yourself as “not-cruel.” When you define another as “boring” you define yourself as “not-boring.”
I’ve been told that an average person will make 18 immediate judgments when meeting another person (age, attractiveness, height, weight, etc). It happens automatically–outside of conscious awareness. In making these judgments, we reinforce our particular world view and filter out alternative perceptions. Have you ever met someone and discovered they weren’t at all like you expected them to be? When people don’t fit a stereotype, we are forced to re-examine our preconceptions.
Letting go of judgment is enlightening because we let go of defining ourselves. What might happen if we became a bit more undefined? We might just experience the world a bit differently. The “me versus you” and “us versus them” games might not be so interesting anymore. Maybe we’d discover a more exciting, more fulfilling game to play.
When we begin to see that the differences between us are small compared to our commonalities, a sense of compassion for others and ourselves develops.
The following compassion exercise is reprinted from The Avatar Journal. It requires no special preparation. Enjoy. Consider exploring it as a small act of kindness for the world.
The Compassion Exercise
“Just Like Me” by Harry Palmer
Honesty with one’s self leads to compassion for others.
Objective: To increase the amount of compassion in the world.
Expected result: Increase in understanding and a personal sense of peace.
Instructions: This exercise can be done anywhere that people congregate (airports, events, beaches, etc). It should be done on strangers, unobtrusively and from some distance. Try to do all five steps on the same person.
1: With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for (his or her) life.”
2: With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in (his or her) life.”
3: With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, suffering, and despair.”
4: With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill (his or her) needs.”
5: With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
Variations of the Just Like Me process:
1. Done by couples to increase understanding of each other.
2. Done on old enemies and antagonists still present in one’s memories.
3. Done on alien life forms.
From the Avatar Materials.
© Copyright 1994 by Star’s Edge Inc. All rights reserved.
About Tony Cecala
Tony is a business strategist. He publishes the Holistic Networker and produces the Wellness Expo. In his spare time he reads about technology and the mind.