part of my morning affirmation borrowed from the words of the dalai lama expresses the intention to expand my heart out to others. when i pray this prayer, the heart i hope to expand is still my own heart. this heart, the center of all that i experience and feel, is focused on me, and i am asking for the insight to include others in the concerns of my heart. rather than wishing to lose my own core in the service of others, i am seeking to see all those i encounter as like myself and as worthy of consideration as my own self. i am seeking to abandon an attitude that places my needs, my desires, my cravings at the forefront. i am learning that the "others" i touch each day have needs, desires, and cravings that are essentially like my own and as significant as my own.
my goal is to put these others on an equal footing with myself in my hierarchy of needs. i am seeking to grow so that i no longer see others as means to my own ends, as objects for me to use for my own gratification. christians often interpret jesus' command to lose one's own life in order to save it as an imperative to abandon any concern for one's own well-being and to put the needs of others ahead of our own need. yet, he also said that the second-most important commandment was to love one's neighbor as one loves oneself.
he goes on to illustrate his point with the parable of the good samaritan who cares for a man wounded on the side of the road after others have passed the injured man by. the good samaritan interrupts his own journey to care for his neighbor, who is in fact a stranger, but the good man does not abandon his journey to stay and care for this stranger; the samaritan sees that the injured man is cared for and continues on, promising to return and take care of any costs that have been accrued during his absence. this is the essence of expanding our hearts out to others: we see their needs and do what we can to address them while taking care of our needs as well. it is not a case of "either-or." what we lose when we lose our lives is the belief that our own needs supersede those of others, that others are less important than we are.
may we open our hearts to include others, seeing those we encounter along the path as neighbors whose needs are like our own. may we help those others to the innkeeper and see that they are cared for as we move along the path, just as the samaritan in jesus' story did. shalom.