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All permanent growth, personal growth, in my opinion, comes from knowing and understanding ourselves. I believe that if we don’t truly understand ourselves that we can’t really understand external events and physical things. We are always drawn into negative actions and get attached to things. If we don’t understand ourselves then we can’t possibly understand others.
Drawing back this curtain of self-deception is undoubtedly not an easy thing to do especially when you first start. Not only is it difficult, but it is also painful because we have to expose ourselves to the misconceptions we have about ourselves. In fact, many people may well ask why would anyone bother to do it– surely we are better staying in our comfort zones.
I would say that understanding our true natures means giving up destructive emotions and also eventually giving up the pain. Pain is not a necessary emotion we have to feel to experience life to the full. However, to get past the feeling of pain, we do have to come out of our comfort zone!
In three weeks time, it will be 100 years to the minute on the 11th of the 11th 2018 since the first world war ended. I grew up in the 50s with the description that this was a war to end all wars. Yet it seems to me 60 years later that we are no nearer to peace than we were then.
When I was a child, it was a very different world I understand that not everyone had a television nor a car. Yet it seems to me we lived in a world where we felt safe. I grew with children who didn’t fear! Today when I watched children I believe that they have a deep-seated sense of fear. I am not sure they even know what their concern is about but that sense of dread in itself is worrying for the future of humanity.
We Can’t Live With Fear and Be Happy
It strikes me that happiness itself has mental and physical aspects. It is a combination of inner peace, security, economic viability, and world peace. Establishing these ideals should be a collective responsibility. Wherever we live, where ever we come from, wherever we were born, whatever religion we practice or don’t practice, we all want to be happy. We all want the same thing. We don’t wish to suffer for ourselves or our loved ones.
We shouldn’t settle to watch suffering on any level. Not every one of us can be born a human. It is a choice that we make. An opportunity to live and experience the world with bodies. Everyone on the planet faces the same collective problems, and we should be looking to secure peace collectively.
The First Step Is Forgiveness
My most significant achievement so far in my own personal growth is to open up my heart and forgive. I have forgiven anyone who has ever harmed myself or my family. Forgiveness itself is cathartic. I have found; personally, it has opened up my heart, and I am much more compassionate towards every living thing.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that I’ve accepted other people’s actions as being okay. I can’t change those actions. Indeed, forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m saying that I condone their actions. It just means I have let go of the right to judge those actions. If we can’t forgive other people, then the resulting hatred and bitterness and anger consume us all.
I was honestly making myself ill by judging others. It doesn’t mean I even have to see the people I have forgiven. The very act of forgiveness brings a feeling of peace in itself. I am not wasting any negative energy or in fact any energy deciding how I think about it. Letting go of the emotion is enough. I can live in harmony with the people I forgave without having to see them. In fact there is no reason why our lives should ever have to cross again.
That means in this life and in future lives. Hopefully, it says I have literally learned my lesson. When we see things wrong in other people, or we see things that irritate us, we are looking at mirror images of ourselves. We are each other! I am the same is my brothers and sisters we are all one.
Those that know me to know that I am not a religious person I do not believe in a God. Nonetheless, I do have tremendous sympathy with the Buddhist philosophy that all our troubles stem from an attachment to things we think are permanent.
In the pursuit of our own happiness, we can be aggressive and competitive with our fellow human beings. We think that just because we have the money to pay for human resources such as water, fresh air, and any material thing that we want that it is okay to have them.
Although there are a lot of people think about their human footprint on this earth there are many many more that don’t. People who think they can have anything that they want and squander resources are ignorant of life as it really is. The relentless pursuit of individual materialism is inhuman.
The humane antidote is unconditional love. You may well think that you love your close family unconditionally. Often you don’t, and the love is based on attachment rather than altruism. We need to foster a sense of natural and unlimited love and compassion towards everyone, including those who have done you harm or even great harm.
All of us can realize that at the beginning of life when we are young, we are dependent on the love and compassion of others. We need our mothers to breastfeed us, or someone to feed us. Many of us as we age will require kindness and compassion from other people to survive. That may be our families, and that may be other people who simply care. In my world, it is inconceivable that if we can see that we need people at the beginning and end of our lives that we can ignore people in our middle years.
We are all born compassionate and altruistic it is an innate human characteristic. That means that we are born with that ability. Of course, it is very pragmatic in the days when we had smaller tribal families it was a matter of survival. We helped other people to survive because even if our descendants didn’t survive our brothers and sisters descendants might do so.
In other words, the family will go on. Because we are born with that sense of compassion, it is one of the reasons why compassionate acts rarely hit the headlines. We see every night acts of violence on the television or read about them in the newspaper. That is because these acts are truly shocking to our very nature.
When we can separate ourselves from the judgment of all things and lose our sense of attachment we can look at life with a clear mind. When we cloud our minds with hatred, anger, jealousy and any other negative emotion we’ve already lost. We lost control of ourselves and also of our judgments. In those irrational moments, anything can happen including war and murder. Which is why we must strip back our nature so we can understand ourselves and every other human being on this planet. Very shortly in the future, our very survival as humans may well depend