I recently had a childhood friend show me great love and compassion. She’s an empath, more striking in spirit than any thought of angels I’ve ever had. I am teaching her the wisdom I’ve gained on unconditional love, and she’s teaching me great empathy. I felt suffering recently, and her glimmer of light turned that suffering into a flourishing of wisdom. That wisdom was found partly through the ancient wisdom of the stoics, Hindus, and Muslims, which I listen to daily as I work. (I’m also interested in the spirituality of our Sikh, Jewish, Buddhist, and all other religious friends.) I want to share five lessons from the philosophers that mean the world to me.
First, as Stoic Marcus Aurelius said, “Be tolerant of others but strict with ourselves.” I seek to see others’ faults as part of their learning path. They came here to overcome or grow from their faults and hardships. I aim to have no expectations of others. But for myself, I seek perfection in love, aiming to end all attachment to any negative emotion, thought, or deed, but instead become nothing but unconditional love, understanding, and compassion for all beings.
Second, a philosopher imparted philosophy of the following nature: Where do I look for good or evil but in myself, to the choices I make? When I feel bad about an event, it is most freeing not to blame the other but to look only at what I had done, as my choices are all I control. And it helps me to grow in ways that blaming others could never do.
Third, I believe a stoic philosopher said that the person who jumps ship is not to be respected. The person who bears the storm, taking hold of the wheel, deserves respect, even if he becomes shipwrecked. So, if a loved one rejects me and even goes into a rage when I reach out to that soul, it doesn’t mean I should give up. At least, I believe it means I’ve got to keep loving and being patient, even if I become “shipwrecked.”
Fourth, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Like a snake sheds its skin, so we must shed our past over and over again.” I read the Emotional Wound Thesaurus, page by page. Every one of us appears to have an incredible heartache—or wound—that torments the soul. So, we must rise above by sending the world unconditional love and forgiveness so profoundly wise that there is nothing left to forgive. I believe we all came to this world with life lessons we chose in advance. And those emotional wounds are those lessons. Therefore, we chose those wounds before we were born. And the purpose of those wounds is for us to rise above into a state of unconditional love. That is true growth. And suicide should never be an option—as it prevents us from realizing the lessons we earnestly set out into this world to master. But the sooner we learn our lessons, the wiser.
Lastly, according to Bing, Jack Kornfield said that if our compassion does not include ourselves, it is incomplete. The more accountability we take for our actions and the more compassion we give others, the more we grow. And that growth paves the way for greater compassion for ourselves. It’s a beautiful paradox. It occurs because the more compassion we give others, the more beautiful we naturally become, which ultimately leads to the conditions for greater compassion for ourselves.
I spoke today with a lovely Muslim woman who told me about the spiritual holiday Ramadan. She said during Ramadan, we reach out to loved ones we stopped talking to, and we seek peace. If that’s Ramadan, I wish to live Ramadan every day of my life—as everyone in existence is truly my loved one, and every moment is meant for love. Moreover, don’t we all, in our purest essence, love everyone anyway?