This evening one of my wife`s best friends sent her a request.
This friend is presently attending a 3-month program in Denmark. The program is for people who wish to become social workers. One of her assignments is to ask someone to answer a short series of questions about a specific assigned topic. The topic is “Open Heart.” Via my wife the someone she asked was me.
1. What is your own idea about “Open Heart”?
To me, Open Heart is the ability to receive and examine or inquire into what is being presented without preconceptions or judgements. In short, to truly listen to another being’s words. By listening in this way we create a clear and settled state in which discernment can be brought to bear with less attachment to personal preferences. Instead there is more emphasis on an interaction conducted with an eye toward a mutually beneficial outcome. It is a willingness to invite another being’s views into our awareness from the stance that their views are as valid as ours and not to be cast aside simply because they do not coincide with ours. Receive. Discern. Work with and not against. Make decisions with compassion and kindness. Even in the case of stepping away from further interaction because of the being met seeking to harm, deceive or drag one into that being`s personal dramas, that stepping away is done with care and the genuine wish for that being to find clarity of mind so as to be able to solve their challenges and become more easeful, happy and free in their own self.
2. How people can have open heart?
An intelligent sequence of practice and study, with an authentically effective meditation as the central axis. Because Open Heart is not something that can happen unless the mind and heart become clear. That clarity can most effectively be created through deep meditation. This clarity is not a vacant kind of emptiness of mind or the absence of all thought. Rather, it is a lively place of vibrant focus in which a person can respond to any situation with precision of skillfulness in how they answer and/or act. Answers and actions become carefully constructed for the purpose of maintaining harmony of interaction without sacrificing one`s beliefs or purpose.
3. Do you have any situation which is related to open heart?
On a personal level I have been able at times to maintain a stance of clarity of mind imbued with compassion and kindness in the face of difficult interactions. Once there was a tense situation that had arisen between myself and another studio owner who felt threatened that I had invited a person who had been a part of one of their courses to teach in a course at my studio. This studio owner had recently gone through a lot of personal challenge related to teachers at their own studio. So they were feeling threatened when that was not the intention at all. They acted in an aggressive manner, even threatening the person I had invited by banning them from their studio. I had a face to face talk with this studio owner with the intention to reach a peaceful resolution that was beneficial for all of us. It required several emails and then a face to face that lasted about an hour. By the end of that conversation this owner expressed relief and let go of their initial anger and fear. They then contacted the person they had initially been angry with and apologized to them and invited them back to their studio. By keeping Open Heart throughout the interactions, I was able to gently encourage this owner to see that there was no threat to their studio. It wasn`t that I had to convince the owner in some kind of argumentative way. Instead I had to listen with great care to offer words that soothed their fears and gave them a genuine feeling of support and respect for their own feelings.
I am grateful to Eri`s friend for sending such fantastic questions for me to ponder.
Hope she gets a good grade! : )