Originally published in New York Spirit
Long ago, there was a small monastery renowned for its disciples and masters. Over the years, the reputation began declining due to various reasons. The monks were getting lethargic and discipline was lacking. As a result, initiates were leaving. The abbot of the monastery was upset. One day he met a sage and asked him how he could bring back the glorious days.
The sage took a deep breath and replied, “The reason your monastery’s fame and values are diminishing is that the Buddha is living amongst you in disguise but you haven’t honored him.”
The abbot was distressed. He called all the monks and repeated the sage’s words.
“Which one of them is Buddha?” They began observing each other with a mix of suspicion and admiration.
Not knowing who he was, they started treating everyone with respect. Slowly, the damages occurred due to the dishonor of the place and people were transformed into virtues and that brought the monastery back to its former state.
A tiny bit of Buddha is within all of us. We need to honor that divinity within each other. It’s difficult to believe so with our myopic vision and constant mind chatter. Somehow, we are attuned to notice what all is wrong with the person we just met, diminishing the remaining bits of holiness within us as well.
We all go through difficulties and catastrophes in our lives. Fighting these fires of life polish us and bring wisdom. Respect these struggles and the fact that each one of us will have different views and choices on everything. Disagreement can be healthy without being disagreeable. Though this is a difficult zone as the rift between conflicting political opinions is widening every day on social media, there is always a possibility of civil conversation. As I flip back pages of history to find a worthy example, I see a powerful letter from Mahatma Gandhi to Hitler at the beginning of World War II.
That I address you as a friend is no formality. I own no foes. My business in life has been for the past 33 years to enlist the friendship of the whole of humanity by befriending mankind, irrespective of race, colour or creed.
I, therefore, appeal to you in the name of humanity to stop the war.”
We hold the power to connect with the invisible string of humanness. All we need is an intention to seek such a thread.
We assume a lot from the first impressions, often allowing our ‘negativity bias’ to rule. We form opinions without even trying to fully know someone. Observe how many times do we judge people while listening to them.
All of our beliefs, ideas, and perceptions get shaped through the environment we grow up in. A person talking too little might be self-conscious. A person talking too much may be trying to hide his anxiety or just seeking a connection. At the core level, each one of us wants to be happy. Everyone seeks to find places and people who understand them. None of us is good or bad. We all oscillate somewhere between these two labels.
What does it make us? Just a wondrous flawed human being. We all are that. Wouldn’t it be better to look for things that make us unique?
Studies say that the moral elevation – the uplifting feeling when one sees unexpected acts of kindness and compassion- increases our sense of shared humanity. People feel more motivated to contribute towards the greater good and be more benevolent. Seeing the good in others inspires us to be the same.
Appreciating goodness and giving respect to all beings brings mental peace and enhances your aura. What you give out in this vast field of the universe comes back to you in varied forms.
Seeing good in others doesn’t mean to trust anyone blindly. You are just throwing away the unnecessary judgmental lens. You should still give the time for trust to develop. Intuition should be adhered to. Don’t confuse respect with trust. There is a difference in being polite and being nice. Know when to draw the line. Seeing good does not imply shunning the obvious red flags. You won’t leave your house unlocked because you might see some goodness in a thief. Right?
Beholding goodness in everything is a way to live joyfully and mindfully. Compassion and kindness can be kindled only when we see the interconnectedness. To see good in others is to become one first.
May we all realize the Buddha-ness within and outside!