Our hearts beat moving life-giving blood through the organs, feeding them with nutrients and oxygen. When the flow stops, the organs die, killing the host. The heart, literally and metaphorically, is essential to life—of the individual and the society. We live in demanding environments; our well-being depends on a constant flow of energy feeding the mind and refueling disciplines. Without the flow of energy, we quickly deplete and succumb to surrounding demands. Greatness of heart implies a healthy interactive process of feeding our self and others with nourishing love and kindness.
Tender kindness and compassion metaphorically flow from the heart. Self-directed kindness lessons the impacts of the constant attack on our stability. We tend to engage in an unwinnable war with ourselves, attacking our feelings, thoughts, and actions.
We judge ourselves as flawed and continually demand perfection. The battle within drains precious resources that we could better direct towards opposing outside forces. We need tenderness. We can compassionately attend to inner conflicts with compassion, releasing the demonizing judgments that tear down our self-image, and engage in a gory war we cannot win.
Kindness with Others
Self-directed kindness is only the beginning. Our spiritual practices nurture much greater results than compassion with the self. Greatness of heart extends beyond the boundaries of self. Greatness of heart beats, pushing life giving energy to the surrounding world.
Spiritual evolved person is no longer confined to the pettiness of self; but her heart has enlarged, feeding others. We don’t achieve greatness of heart through forced compliance but, rather, through simple progressions of loving kindness, recognizing our shared emotions and histories with all.
“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”~Saint Basil
Difficult Lives and Selfishness
Difficult lives tend to suck us inward, directing attention to our own turbulent emotions. This survival mechanism of selfishness serves a purpose but easily morphs into a limited existence as we deepen the divide between ourselves and the richness of the world surrounding us. Oddly, careful attention to expanding our connections, giving kindness to others, and widening our perspective, we lighten the impact of our painful emotions.
As we serve, and kindly respect human life—from the unhoused, to the drug addicted, and even the self-absorbed politicians—we beat the life-giving love so desperately needed in the expanding loneliness of our times. With greatness of heart, we change; and subsequently we change the world.