Now Upgrade Your Heart
Does something trouble you constantly? Your business? A promotion? A boss that torments you? The pressure of finances? The feeling of getting left behind? The fear that there won’t be food on your table when you grow old?
And what’s kind of worse is that perhaps you know that this fear is unwarranted. Sure it’s a concern. But it doesn’t deserve the constant attention you give it.
Because there’s enough good stuff going on. But you’re just unable to join the dots.
So now what do you do? What’s the answer?
Well here’s the thing. The answer may lie not in you but in others.
The answer may lie in realising that you’ve made your heart so tiny that it only fits you and your problems. With room for nothing else.
And if you can make it bigger then your problems will come into perspective. You need to feel for others and realise your blessing.
So will switching on CNN and watching children crying in Syria.
Or reading page 4 in the paper where old people are thrown out of their home and babies are stolen (or much worse — I call them the horror pages) — will this help.
That’s not compassion.
There’s a guy called Matthieu Ricard. He’s a French scientist turned Buddhist Monk who was called ‘the happiest man in the world’ by Time Magazine. I met him when he came to Delhi. He said, “Take two stones and drop them into a glass of water. It all splashes out. Drop them into a bucket. There is a smaller splash. Now drop them into a lake. It’s just a ripple”. He goes on to explain, “the stones are your troubles and the water is the size of your heart.”
Now where do you get this compassion?
You won’t find it in the supermarket and it, believe it or not, can’t be ordered on Amazon.
The secret is that you don’t find it. It finds you. You have to look, really look hard at the world around you. In the corners, in the crevasses.
Most of all look at people who don’t know they are looking at you. See an old man trying to cross the road. Really see him. See the mother sitting outside AIIMS with her child. Feel that pain.
If you want some shock treatment go and stand on a railway platform or a hospital ICU waiting area — these are areas suffused with so much emotion you can cut the atmosphere with a knife.
Close your eyes and feel the air.
As the days pass you have to keep looking and keep observing. Stop thinking about your story and start thinking about other people’s stories.
That girl who always looks so sad four cubicles away from you. What’s happening there?
Which brings us to a simple truth. Compassion has to start at home. How are you treating your wife, or your husband?
Or your children — what’s going on in their day? It’s the ones who are closest to us who we are most thoughtless with.
And then when something happens to them we cry and beat our chest like wailing sheep.
So shift your heart from thin band to broadband. From 2G to 4G. Become a router for empathy.
And strangely enough, you’ll find some peace and perspective!