Chants of a Lifetime
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Chants of a LifetimeSing your way to spirit.
Spiritual practices like chanting work by gradually removing our false sense of separateness. It’s not real separateness; it’s a temporary experience. The sense of “me-ness” is a wall, and no wall can last forever. What goes away is everything that keeps us separate, our false identification with our stuff. While we’re separate, we’re locked up in ourselves. Then everybody is either an object of desire or an object of aversion or fear. It’s kind of intense to be locked up in that place all the time, but that’s pretty much all we know. We’ve got to untie that knot in our hearts that believes our personal happiness is separate from, and more important than, the happiness of other people.
We’ve been trained to think of ourselves first, and where has it gotten us? If we thought of our Self first—the one great Self of which we’re all a part—our unhappiness would disappear. But we have to discover for ourselves what that is. It’s like when we’re listening to really great music, we can forget that we stubbed our toe and it’s throbbing. When our attention is on the repetition of the Name, we’re not as focused on our own pain or discomfort. We enter into a different relationship with the constant flow of thoughts and then we’re just here. Our hearts get wider and we don’t think as much about my happiness versus your happiness; we care less about ourselves and our own stuff. Those heavy states of mind gradually pass away and are replaced by a more buoyant sense of contentment.
As Sharon Salzberg writes, we have to develop “a heart as wide as the world”—a heart so open that there’s room for everything and everyone in the world to fit inside it. Ram Dass speaks of loving the soul or inner being of a person, while not necessarily approving of that person’s actions. The crux of developing that kind of heart is learning to be good to ourselves. When we let all of the suffering and sadness in the world destroy us, it doesn’t help the world in any way. It’s endless.
A reporter once asked the Dalai Lama, “Your Holiness, why does everybody love you so much?” He replied, “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent my whole life caring about, and considering the happiness of, other people.” Think about that: “Maybe it’s because I’ve spent my whole life”—that’s whole life—“caring about other people.” There’s no one in there trying to be “good” by helping people. The only thing left in the Dalai Lama is the wisdom of compassion. There is not one doing good or helping people in order to feel good about himself. Everything he does is motivated by compassion, caring, and loving kindness. He’s not at all concerned with his own personal happiness; he has accomplished that. There’s nothing selfish and personal left in him. He is identified with all of us, all of humanity.