Establishing your identity as someone who is not static, open to change and eager for better makes it far easier to engage in a world where some would prefer us to do precisely the opposite.*
Of all human abilities, open to the other must be one of the greatest of all?
Compassion allows the other inside of us:
All knowledge of another person is real knowledge only if it is based on my experiencing within myself that which he experiences. If this is not the case and the person remains an object, I may know a lot about him but I do not know him.**
John O’Donohue understands this to be an awakening:
To know a thing is to awaken to its depth, complexity and presence.^
If I stay still for too long, I will eventually fall asleep. I need to keep moving; O’Donohue continues:
We turn the mystery and strangeness of the world into our private territory. We make a home out of our world. Life becomes predictable and we function automatically within our frames: routes to work, colleagues, friends, patterns of thinking and feeling, the faces of family, etc.^
I need to move from here to there.
Thich Nhat Hanh offers four mantras to enable this journey into the life of another, or their life into ours:
I am here for you.
I know you are there, and I am so happy.
I know you are suffering. That is why I am here for you.
I am suffering, please help.^^
*From Seth Godin’s blog: Identity is often used against us;
**From Erich Fromm’s The Revolution of Hope;
^From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^^Thich Nhat Hanh, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Four Buddhist Mantras for Turning Fear Into Love.