Thanks in part to pandemic restrictions, a source of enjoyment for me is going for walks in our local area. There is much rural beauty nearby and there is delight to be found, too, in the surrounding streets. I feel happy when I am walking because the world magically opens up when we look more closely at things.
A layer of ice
Many of the people who are also out walking seem very friendly and respond warmly to a smile and a wave or a hello. On the other hand, quite a few pass by without acknowledging anyone else. Instead of warmth, it is as though there is a glaze of ice, a certain aloofness. There are many reasons why that may be and, after all, any of us can be a little withdrawn or grumpy sometimes.
More important than the response of passers-by to each other, though, is the general human trait of indifference towards those we don’t know, whether individuals or a group. We can often fail to see the light in another person and miss so much. And the reason isn’t somewhere out there; it’s inside, in our own minds.
If it’s in the mind, fix the mind
Indifference is something we urgently need to fix because it results in an absence of joy, of love and a lack of positive action. It is the cause of all apathy. I was once given a piece of advice that, when you see a stranger, to imagine you once knew him or her very well. Imagine that some time in the past, you had a very close connection, now forgotten, when they showed you great kindness. This simple mental adjustment can begin to expand the mind and tickle the heart, melting any ice that may be lingering.
It’s wise not to speak of it because it is an inner practice but, make no mistake, this little technique is very profound if we make it a habit.
Thank you for reading this. Sadly, no courses will be running until circumstances permit. May you have a joyful Christmas season and a happy and healthy new year. Andrew