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Never assume, build bridges of compassion

Never assume, build bridges of compassion

Children, if we examine how we respond to the situations we encounter, we will see that most of the time, we allow presumptions to shape our responses. We must learn to regard the circumstances of our life without prejudice. There is an important lesson we must learn: never assume anything.

Amma remembers a story. A middle-aged man was strolling with his young son in a park. The boy excitedly asked, “Look, Dad, isn’t this a rose?”

With great joy and enthusiasm, the father replied, “Yes, son, it is.”

“Is the color of this rose what they mean by red?”

“Yes, son, this is red.”

Seeing the sprawling green lawn before him, the youth asked, “Dad, is this grass? Is this the green color?”

“Yes, son, this is grass and the color of grass is green.”

In this way, father and son kept pointing at various things and talking in loud and excited voices. 

A man longing for some peace and quiet was sitting on a bench in the park. Enraged by the disturbance, he told the father, “People like me come here, hoping to enjoy some peace of mind, but because you and your son are talking so loudly, I have lost whatever peace I had. No matter what that mentally retarded kid says, you keep saying ‘Yes, son… yes, son.’ But that’s not going to make him any better.”

Hearing this, father and son remained silent for a while. Then, regaining his composure, the father said, “Forgive us. My son isn’t retarded. He was born blind. Two days ago, he underwent surgery to give him vision. After the bandages were removed, I wanted to take him to a place where he could see beautiful sights. That’s why we came here. 

“Enraptured by the beauty of this garden, which he was seeing for the first time, he asked me many questions excitedly, and I enthusiastically answered him, forgetting everything else. When one finds treasure, how joyful one will be. In that elation, one will even forget one’s surroundings. That’s how it was with us. Please forgive us.”

Hearing this, the man felt remorseful. He begged forgiveness for having spoken such sharp words. On that day, he took a vow: “Henceforth, I will never judge anyone prematurely and get angry with him or her.”

When he realized that his anger was caused by a misunderstanding and prejudice, it turned into love and compassion. If we can patiently gauge situations, we will definitely be able to awaken love and compassion in our hearts. 

We need to build a bridge of compassion. We need to cultivate an outlook that appreciates the essential oneness of all beings. Although we may see 1,000 suns reflected in 1,000 pots of water, there is only one sun. When we see the consciousness within all of us as one, we will develop an outlook, which considers the needs of others before our own desires.

Remember, we all have something to give. A smile doesn’t cost one cent, yet all too often, we forget to give even this to others. We have nothing to lose by looking at people with love and affection. Even our seemingly most insignificant acts can help others. May the circle of love within everyone expand and gradually come to embrace all of creation.

The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian

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