strangers imagined & enemies appreciated

I had an interesting dynamic with extending loving kindness towards an “enemy” a couple of days ago. Typically, I find it difficult to identify any person for this range in extending loving kindness. There is no one I can imagine undeserving of love and kindness. I can imagine anyone’s younger-inner-child self and the nature of their diverse strategies and coping mechanisms to find ease and peace with life. When adults’ behaviors concern or disturb me, I may judge the expression as unskillful or ironically as child-like, yet I can understand that such display of self is coming from a deep need inside.

So, I was passing through the gym locker room, and a T.V. was blaring a morning game show, with a contestant fumbling over his words in effort to acknowledge his loved ones back home, amidst his excitement at being chosen to play the game. He repeated the same phrase three times with fluttery energy and seeming confusion.

My thoughts went on a journey. I articulated in my mind that this is someone I would never want to get to know. I have a wealth of loved ones in my life. I don’t need anymore people to worry about; as I worried about how publicly this person had – in my view – just embarrassed himself on national T.V.

Tug. My heart was hooked before my stone cold mind could think. Almost twenty-four hours later, during my next sitting practice with loving kindness, this experience came to mind when I got to the layer of extending the practice to an enemy or adversary. Yes, I had recently created an unknown character that I did not like, who offended me somehow with their vulnerable public behavior. In the context and familiarity of loving kindness meditation practice, it did not suffice to hold this person or character away any further. My projection of this person, and all the myriad sentient beings in the world are of pumping hearts who I do wish ease and health and freedom upon every day. I wondered who this person was more specifically: imagining lovers, family, co-workers, etc.

I both remembered and realized that I do care about seeming random people completely unimagined to me or by me in the world! The implication, of loving kindness for the millions of sentient beings that I never specifically picture or even imagine to be, was striking. I also reflected on the countless times I have interacted with such seeming strangers in travels through an ordinary day or international travels, and that I have always found common ground to appreciate.

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