It is easy to be untouched by stories we read in the newspaper, on the Internet or watch on the news about people suffering from unemployment, loss of loved ones, war or natural disasters. More and more, in our world, we have a sense of “unreal others.” Unless we are really awake, we don’t see the person we’re reading about as a real subjective being. We don’t have a sense of “the one who is looking out through those eyes or feeling with that heart.” The other is not real to us, and our hearts don’t respond with authentic compassion.
Only when someone is real to us and we recognize what they are living through, do we open to our natural caring and generosity. How do “unreal others” become “real” to us? One practice that really helps us awaken is to talk with people who are different from us. We start recognizing that behind our varied masks, the one who is looking at us experiences the same fears and yearnings, the same deep, deep longing to love and to be loved. Our vehicle in recognizing this is deep listening. What happens when there’s a listening presence? When we’re fully in that listening presence, when there’s that pure quality of receptivity, we become loving presence itself. And whether you call that God or pure awareness or true nature, the boundary of inner and outer dissolves. In that open presence, the other is part of our heart, the other becomes “real”.
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