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Living Now - - Front Page - By Steve Ray

AC­CORD­ING TO AN old Hindu leg­end…

…there was once a time when all hu­man be­ings were gods, but they so abused their di­vin­ity that Brahma, the chief god, de­cided to take it away from them and hide it where it could never be found.

Where to hide their di­vin­ity was the ques­tion. So Brahma called a coun­cil of the gods to help him de­cide.

“Let’s bury it deep in the earth”, said the gods. But Brahma an­swered, “No, that will not do be­cause hu­mans will dig into the earth and find it.” Then the gods said, “Let’s sink it in the deep­est ocean”, but Brahma said, “No, not there, for they will learn to dive into the ocean and will find it.” Then the gods said, “Let’s take it to the top of the high­est moun­tain and hide it there”, but once again Brahma replied, “No, that will not do ei­ther, be­cause they will even­tu­ally climb ev­ery moun­tain and once again take up their di­vin­ity.” Then the gods gave up and said, “We do not know where to hide it, be­cause it seems that there is no place on earth or in the sea that hu­man be­ings will not even­tu­ally reach.”

Brahma thought for a long time and then said, “Here is what we will do. We will hide their di­vin­ity deep in the cen­tre of their own be­ing, for hu­mans will never think to look for it there.”

All the gods agreed that this was the per­fect hid­ing place, and the deed was done. And since that time hu­mans have been go­ing up and down the earth, dig­ging, div­ing, climb­ing, and ex­plor­ing — search­ing for some­thing al­ready within them­selves.

Com­pas­sion…. it’s not some­thing we can do; it’s some­thing we al­ready have within us, but at the mo­ment, right now in fact, we are block­ing it. We are block­ing it be­cause of the dom­i­na­tion of our mind.

This is the key to un­lock­ing com­pas­sion, end­ing the dom­i­na­tion of our mind… but how do we do that? More on that in a mo­ment. First, we need to re­alise where com­pas­sion comes from. It’s in our hearts. We all know it.. deep down, but we’ve for­got­ten it. Some peo­ple might say they don’t have it, but we all have a heart. It’s our con­nec­tion to the un­con­di­tional and un­lim­ited love from the Source of Love, and the key to com­pas­sion is to open our heart. Lis­ten to what Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh writes in his latest book, “How to Love”, pub­lished just this year:

“When our hearts are small, our un­der­stand­ing and com­pas­sion are lim­ited, and we suf­fer. We can’t ac­cept or tol­er­ate oth­ers and their short­com­ings, and we de­mand that they change. But when our hearts ex­pand, these same things don’t make us suf­fer any­more. We have a lot of un­der­stand­ing and com­pas­sion and can em­brace oth­ers. We ac­cept oth­ers as they are, and then they have a chance to

trans­form. So the big ques­tion is: how do we help our hearts to grow?”

Yes, how DO we help our hearts to grow? We’ll get there shortly I prom­ise.

Thicht Naht Hanh is right: if there is a door­way to com­pas­sion it is the open­ing of our spir­i­tual (non-phys­i­cal) hearts. It’s only be­cause our hearts are closed that we so rarely ex­pe­ri­ence com­pas­sion. In­stead of com­pas­sion to­wards oth­ers, our more fre­quent ex­pe­ri­ence is one of judge­ment. Judge­ment comes be­cause of the mind-dom­i­nant state that the world has been liv­ing in for so long, and when our minds are dom­i­nant, our hearts are closed. Ac­cord­ing to Ed Ruben­stein, PH.D, au­thor of The Way of the Spir­i­tual Heart,

“Mind-dom­i­nant states are char­ac­terised by emo­tion­ally re­ac­tive pat­terns, lim­it­ing thoughts and self­de­feat­ing be­liefs that are present when the mind is in charge. Ex­am­ples are un-for­give­ness to­ward self or oth­ers, re­sent­ments, ar­ro­gance, anger, pride, van­ity, greed, jeal­ousy and self cen­tred­ness.”

The great para­dox is that when we be­gin to open our hearts, our minds are ac­tu­ally more open too be­cause our minds are in­flu­enced by our hearts. An open mind ac­tu­ally per­ceives re­al­ity quite dif­fer­ently from a mind that is closed. This is the great­est se­cret: we can­not know com­pas­sion while our mind is dom­i­nant, be­cause we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent re­al­ity.

While our closed minds tell us that it’s nor­mal to ex­pe­ri­ence emo­tional re­ac­tions as de­scribed above, in ac­tual fact, this shows us the depth of our am­ne­sia be­cause we haven’t just ‘ for­got­ten’ the heart; we have for­got­ten who we ARE. Emo­tional states are not who we truly are, and yet we of­ten de­scribe peo­ple as be­ing ‘an an­gry (anx­ious, wor­ried, ar­ro­gant, etc.) per­son’. We can­not be an emo­tional per­son, any more than we can ‘be’ the clothes we are wear­ing. When we are within those mind-dom­i­nant states, though, we en­ter a soap-opera of our own cre­ation and our iden­tity shifts.

This is where the spir­i­tual ter­mi­nol­ogy of ‘be­ing asleep’ or ‘un­con­scious’ come from. A spir­i­tual awak­en­ing is the process of open­ing our heart.

When our heart opens, it’s like we per­ceive re­al­ity for the first time… although it may only be a glimpse to be­gin with be­cause our mind is strong and the habits are mil­len­nia old.

When our hearts are open, com­pas­sion flows from our heart as nat­u­rally as a flower opens to the sun. Does the flower think how to open, does it do any­thing at all? No… a flower opens to the sun be­cause it was de­signed that way. Do we make our breath­ing hap­pen, or the beat­ing of our heart or the move­ment of blood around our body? No they all hap­pen nat­u­rally be­cause that’s the way we were de­signed.

When I sug­gested to El­iz­a­beth [Liv­ing­now editor] that I might write some­thing on com­pas­sion, she said: Sounds OK, ex­cept what’s in it for the peo­ple who have not got the com­pas­sion? How can you en­gage them? How can you help them? Typ­i­cally think­ing about her read­ers’ needs, I thought. What a good chal­lenge. The only point to writ­ing an ar­ti­cle like this is to con­vey that Ev­ery­one has a heart and this is the time on Earth that we should be open­ing them. There is one very sim­ple and im­por­tant key to the open­ing of our heart… per­haps the ul­ti­mate in para­dox. A koan like no other. We can­not open our hearts. I know. It makes no sense on the sur­face. So let’s think about that flower and the sun metaphor again. It’s nat­u­ral… it’s spon­ta­neous. It’s the very pur­pose of the flower’s ex­is­tence

We can close our hearts, by choos­ing to fol­low our emo­tions and stay­ing trapped in the trance of our mind-dom­i­nant lives. Or, we can choose to turn away from that. We can stop… and choose our heart and al­low it to be opened.

to open. The open­ing of our heart to the Source of Love is ex­actly the same — as au­to­matic as the open­ing of that flower to the sun. That’s the pur­pose of OUR ex­is­tence. All we need to do is leave our dom­i­nant mind be­hind. So how do we do that… leave our mind be­hind?

Here it is… mind dom­i­na­tion in­volves some level of emo­tional re­ac­tiv­ity. We are al­ways — 24/7 — in some state of ‘ fight/flight’ re­sponse. Our sym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem is trig­gered con­stantly so we are NEVER fully re­laxed… just less stressed than at other times… but those less stressed times we now call ‘re­laxed’. So, the end of mind dom­i­na­tion comes first through the door­way of be­ing re­laxed. Try it now…


Close your eyes… and re­lax… re­ally re­ally re­lax. Give your­self per­mis­sion to re­lax. Let your shoul­ders stop re­sist­ing grav­ity so your shoul­ders can re­lax and com­fort­ably sink as all the ten­sion keeps dis­solv­ing.


Now… af­ter a while, lift your hand slowly with­out rush­ing and gen­tly touch the cen­tre of your chest where your heart is lo­cated at the level of your armpits. No need to fo­cus on the spot un­der your fin­gers as your heart wants to open way be­yond your chest. Touch­ing your heart shows your will­ing­ness for your heart to be opened, but you are not do­ing it!


Now, smile sweetly and freely to your heart with­out try­ing. Let your smile be nat­u­ral, gen­tle, soft and free. Smil­ing changes your mood, helps you be more re­laxed and helps to re­lease en­dor­phins and in­creases the up­take of sero­tonin in your brain, which ul­ti­mately im­proves how you feel.


Keep let­ting go of any se­ri­ous­ness or de­ter­mi­na­tion… any ef­fort or ‘ do­ing’ (it’s such a strong habit). This is not a tech­nique. This is about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween your heart and the un­con­di­tional love from the Source of Love.


Now feel the true heart feel­ings… peace­ful­ness, grat­i­tude, calm­ness… the gen­tle light and ex­pan­sive feel­ings. Just keep feel­ing and en­joy­ing all those feel­ings.

Those steps will un­lock the door­way to your heart. Reg­u­lar heart med­i­ta­tion will open your heart even more as you re­lease the neg­a­tiv­i­ties and block­ages that have built up in your heart be­cause you have fol­lowed your emo­tions for so long. Slowly, but surely, you will feel com­pas­sion start to flow from your heart. Stress will be­gin to ebb and your feel­ings to­ward oth­ers will soften. Grudges and feel­ing of non-for­give­ness will make way for your true heart feel­ings as the block­ages dis­solve and your heart opens even big­ger. Only the un­lim­ited and un­con­di­tional love from the Source of Love can open our hearts and end the pat­tern of mind dom­i­nance.

So what are you wait­ing for? Re­lax. Smile… and en­joy all the beau­ti­ful feel­ings in your heart… peace­ful­ness, calm­ness, light­ness and so on. Just let them be… al­low them to grow stronger… don’t do any­thing! It’s THAT sim­ple. Your heart will keep open­ing for­ever while you can re­lax, smile and en­joy and, with an open heart, all our in­ter­ac­tions with oth­ers will be filled with love and joy. Oth­ers will be­gin to feel those feel­ings too as their hearts also re­spond.

When we do things with love in our hearts, our hearts will open more and peo­ple will feel the dif­fer­ence. With­out our hearts open, our ac­tions will feel hol­low or driven by our own needs and ex­pec­ta­tions. We’ll do good things per­haps, but it will be be­cause we think we ‘should’ do them, not be­cause we feel like it’s the most im­por­tant thing we should do as liv­ing hu­mans.

Our hearts want to share and re­con­nect again with the Source of Love. It’s a very deep long­ing to be­long. The time is now. n

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