It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
The greatest, most abundant resource on planet Earth is also its least understood and utilized. Its unlimited supply is found virtually everywhere, anytime, and under all circumstances, even though few recognize its real value. What is this most precious collective resource? It is our relationships.
Consider these truths: It is within relationships that we grow as individuals in everything valuable, because it is through them that we become stronger and wiser, allowing us to realize a love that transcends our unseen self-limiting self-interests. Yet, even though we may acknowledge the existence of this path to self-perfection, the essential mystery of exactly how to use this endless resource remains obscured.
What do we have to do to change the balance sheet of our lives so that for every measure of impatience and intolerance there may be at least an equivalent sum of compassion and consideration? How do we learn to use our relationships with others to realize a new kind of relationship with ourselves where we are able to discover that who we really are is all we need to be?
Our willingness to work our way through the following twelve special practices -- to strive to use these higher ideals in our relationships with others -- will reward us with the Real Life our hearts longs for.
The main purpose of these special practices is to show us how to use each developing moment in our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers to consciously change our relationship with ourselves.
With few exceptions, the usual focus of our attention and interactions with others is centered on our selves and the fulfillment of our desires. "How do I feel about you?" "What do I want from him?" or "When will she realize that I know best?" In other words, the mindset of the false self, under most circumstances, is: "Me first."
By forever placing its own considerations before considering any other, the false self remains the master of its own universe, even if all that revolves through it is its own imagined importance.
The great inner life lesson to be learned in working with the following twelve suggested practices is that what we put first in our lives is our first relationship with life.
And it is this relationship that secretly determines the nature of all others in our lives. Through our willingness to work at placing our usual self in "second place," we agree not only to change the way we see our relationships, but we have also agreed to be changed by the truths our new relationships will inevitably show us about us.
1. We can be as alert to what we can do to help someone else in any given moment, as we are critically aware of others for failing to notice our immediate needs.
2. We can let anyone who wants to psychologically defeat us have his victory, and do it without revealing that we chose to give him the last word.
3. In any moment of consequence we can be as willing to see that we may be wrong as we are convinced that we are always right.
4. At times when it is our "moment in the sun" -- such as being acknowledged or applauded for a deed well done -- if we have the choice, we can give the best or better portion away.
5. There can be times when we don't tell someone everything we know about her problem, even if our understanding of it is better than hers.
6. When feeling displeased with someone, we don't have to show our displeasure, and we can save any necessary correction for a later time.
7. There are times when the greatest strength (and kindness) one can possess is to allow another his weakness without pointing it out or otherwise punishing him for it.
8. We can do an act of kindness for another person without drawing attention to our deed, or to ourselves for having done it.
9. We can look for ways to make moments work to the advantage of someone else besides ourselves.
10. When gathered with friends or family, instead of competing for the spotlight, we can voluntarily help to shine it on someone whom we know its light will emotionally lift or otherwise encourage.
11. Even when we know that we are solidly in the right, rather than rub it in, we can sacrifice our righteousness.
12. Should a sarcastic or unkind remark pop into our minds to tease, torment, or in any way "trash" another person, we can swallow it first to see how it tastes before we dish it out.
All spiritual practices are a means to self-discovery. Everything we discover about ourselves enlarges our relationship with life and there is no end to these relationships, just as Real Life is endless.
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