Metta Mind Journal




*Compassionate Discrimination

*Compassionate Discrimination: Having astute judgment without being scornfully judgmental; seeing difficult truths about a situation or person without closing your heart or feeling superior. In the words of Alan Jones: having the ability “to smell a rat without allowing your ability to discern deception sour your vision of the glory and joy that is everyone’s birthright.” —from “The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism” in Rob Brezsny’s book, Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia.

When I was younger, I would easily become attached to people when I first met them, especially if I felt we had a connection—and I would often cry when I had to say good-bye to someone I felt connected to. I still occasionally cry when I’m saying bye to a friend I may not be seeing again for an indefinite period of time. The good-byes are encapsulated mini-deaths that force me to let go. Perhaps the attachment stems from a childhood of constant renewal, instability, and change. It’s the kid in me wanting to hold on for just one more minute because back then, I never could. Eventually, I learned that friendships change and evolve in their own unique way.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to have friends, what it means to be one—and how we often think that we’ll know our friends for a lifetime, or that they’ll always be around. The truth is, like everything in life, our closest friendships are always changing and growing, and may eventually end. Some friendships will grow apart and other people I never felt close to may someday grow near.

Some friendships take more energy, others have a historical purpose or connection. Some friendships turn sour because of perceived slights, outright betrayal, while others fade away from natural decay. Often, friends become closer to us than our own family members, while other friends have hearts that harden themselves in silence, and as time goes on, it becomes more difficult to reach meaningful truth and intimacy.

Certain events can sometimes push a friendship out of bounds and into the realm of open enemy, as though the initial bonding was more like a meeting of near enemies who just needed the ignition of a single ill happening to affirm the destruction of the “friendship.” I wonder how many enemies I have out there…people who don’t like me because they believe I wronged them somehow?

I can’t think of anyone who I would consider to be my enemy, but have certainly encountered people who I’ve had no interest in getting to know better, while others I’ve found to be plain annoying. The people who fall into these categories are the ones who try really hard to suppress their anger by being extra nice. They come off as being fake—and difficult to trust.

Note: There are humans out there who are genetically predisposed to have naturally happy personalities. That’s a different quality from what I’m articulating here.

But it’s the annoying ones who actually become my teachers. They provide me with an opportunity to see where I’m stuck. It’s through them that I find out where I’m being judgmental, or justifying a sense of self-importance by believing that on some level, I’m more clever than they are.

So I get to meet the enemy, only to discover that the enemy is me. I meet the friend and find that he is me, too. When I learn how to befriend myself, I can better see my confusion: blaming someone else and thinking it would make me happy.

The flip side of a disingenuous “happy” person is a dark shadow that hasn’t been befriended—our own best enemy is right in the center of our hearts that we haven’t become intimate with. Inevitably, the monster surfaces. I’ve unleashed this monster in the past by pushing away or attacking everything I was afraid of. Back then I would let the Kraken sabotage everything good around me. And when everything was dead, I torched the earth for good measure. A Plutonian kind of purification.

I eventually grew tired of chasing drama and found that a little more kindness toward myself went a long way. It clicked that if I don’t reinforce thoughts that make me feel unworthy or useless as a human being, I’ll get into a lot less trouble.

So how do we cope with frenemies when our backs are up against the wall? Can we take the high road when our egos are being compressed? It’s OK if we’re still angry after all these years. We can even be jealous and timid and feel completely unworthy. The trick for me is finding a way to be OK with all these feelings and, most of all, befriending all parts of myself.

Even the ugliest monster who wants to hit back is allowed to feel that way.

I’m not here to edit a personality and try to mold myself into the shape of a perfect person. I’m here to accept who I am, flaws and all. My relationship to the outer world begins and ends with me. There’s nothing precious about this relationship. It’s very real and messy.

I can stop struggling with the “other” and see its true face without calling it “the enemy.” I can stop rejecting the parts of me that I find difficult to accept. I can surrender to the nature of reality as it is right now and see that it’s OK. There’s nowhere to hide and nothing to do other than allow life to be as it is right now. I can relax with the way things are. There’s nothing passive about this approach to reality. It’s actually quite intense because there’s nothing to hold onto.

I can’t deceive myself when I’m willing to step onto this narrow ridge…like tip-toeing up to the edge of a cliff with an open heart that’s no longer afraid.

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