Imagine two mountains; one mountain represents you (called Self Mountain) and the other mountain represents others (called the Other Mountain – clever, eh! )
With those mountains in mind, let me fill you in on why you now have an image in your mind of two mountains. I recently went to hear a talk given by a Buddhist Monk, a young English Guy from South London. He was down to earth, humorous, easy to relate to. I liked him immediately.
He talked about ‘self cherishing’ – not self acceptance, or self love, or self esteem, all of which are good to do and to have. This was about an over-focus on self. This was where the mountains came in. If you live on Self Mountain, all you tend to see is the mountain you are on, ‘this mountain’. The other mountain over there becomes ‘that mountain’ in the distance.
But if you climb down ‘this mountain’, and climb ‘that mountain’ instead, ‘that’ becomes ‘this’, and ‘this’ becomes ‘that’. Now you can more easily experience things through others’ eyes … and also look at yourself from a distance more objectively. And the message from the Monk was that it is when you are focusing on helping others, that you heal yourself and your own issues.
I bet we can all think of times when we have lived exclusively on Self Mountain. To have empathy and compassion we need to climb down from there and climb up the other mountain.
While walking home from yoga early the next morning, I bought a huge, warm, freshly baked blueberry muffin to share with my husband, Garry, for breakfast. As I walked under the subway, I noticed a homeless man kneeling down on the ground. He is often there and I wondered how it must be to always be hungry and cold. I gave him my muffin. An opportunity for me to climb the other mountain.
Garry sulked for the whole day – guess which mountain he was on (joke) !
Hope you are having a happy day!
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