To melt the solid ice of indifference

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Voice of Longquan     Time:2016-07-16 17:44:32
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Being indifferent is related to the fear of being hurt. If we stop being self-concerned and feel free to love other people and other life forms, we are disburdened of that self which can be hurt.

With the passing of thirteen years of the new century, great changes have taken place in the wonderful land of China. Skyscrapers have been erected on the blueprints of new cities and towns, replacing the former countryside of wild woods, rivers, and small villages with crowing cocks; generations of peasants have taken galloping trains to cities to pursue their lives and dreams with luggage and parcels; more children have entered universities to tour through oceans of knowledge; more and more people have left familiar neighbors and moved to commercial residential buildings in new living communities… The process of urbanization and modernization continues to bring us new hopes.

But there is a piece of solid ice like a wall blocking the way of hope, which is called indifference. During such a large-scale migration from familiar neighborhoods to remote places, loss and loneliness perhaps must be experienced when confronting a new environment, new faces and more complicated social relationships. There used to be familiar people all around us, who were living together for more than ten years and whom we couldn’t have known better. Sometimes our sadness could be dispelled simply by looking at those familiar mountains, rivers and sky. But now everything is unfamiliar as well as ever-changing. Just as Buddha says, changes are the reality of the world. New life, new community, new campus all require new mentality.

Once I met a young man who looked nice and was a little reserved. He told me that he didn’t dare face a crowd of people because he has fear for himself – of being ridiculed for making some kind of mistake or spectacle of himself. He felt that his world seems to be different from that of others. The only similarity to him lies in the fact that everyone behaves in an affected way. Because of this falsehood, life, for him, has been far from interesting.

I knew a woman, who didn’t dare cook for her child. She suspected that there were pesticide residues on vegetables, that the stuffing for dumplings she bought was poisonous, and that the steamed bread contained toxic food dyes. Also, she didn’t talk to strangers or accept help from anybody, even her own relatives, because she was afraid to owe others a favor.

I also knew an old man, an intellectual, living in a large commercial residential apartment. He usually felt bored. In his daily life, he read books and surfed on the internet, but he felt his life was meaningless. He placed all his hopes on his children, but soon found it very hard to communicate with them.

Being indifferent to others is related to fear of being hurt. When we stop being so self-concerned and feel free to love other people and other life-forms, we are disburdened of that self which can be hurt.

I asked that young man, ”Did you really know about those others you were afraid of hurting? Or was it only your imagination?” I told him that, in fact, others don’t care much about what he said or did. Who on earth would be so concerned about others’ reactions? He who cares too much about others’ opinions locks himself into his own private world, with the result that he has little or no understanding of others. I suggested the young man to become a good listener. That would make him more aware of other peoples’ happiness and sadness, which, in turn, would let him be more a part of the world around him.

To that mother I said that we should feel grateful, rather than guilty, for others’ help. Admittedly, we need to depend on others for many things, no matter how rich or capable we are. What we eat and drink every day is the best proof of this fact. If all the farmers and food factories acted without conscience, we could no longer trust the food we ate no matter how much money we had. Don’t believe that the comforts of modern life all come from our individual effort; the fact is that these comforts and conveniences derive from the hard work of countless people. We have to cherish the good in life more than ever and pay it forward wholeheartedly.

I also told that old man that the significance of life lies in the dedication beyond any verbal descriptions. The passion of the young comes from dreaming about the future, but beautiful descriptions in books seem to have nothing to do with us when we get old. The only way is to dedicate to something good, to live with enthusiasm, to help others, to share our experience and be a part of other people’s lives; this is how to build up a mental refuge that is like a gorgeous backyard garden. As Russell says, when a person of ideals and integrity gets old, he is like a river returning to the sea, flowing gradually wider and farther.

To melt indifference, there are three valuable solutions. The first is to listen. Empty ourselves of prejudice, try to experience as fully as possible others’ emotional worlds, and don’t make hasty or premature judgments about others. When we forget our own happiness and sadness because we are focusing on others’, our pains dissipate and disappear. Our own happiness becomes deeper and more enduring.

The second is to be grateful. Maturity and rationality do not mean an inability for gratitude. Do not ignore your relatives’ and friends’ concern and love. Do not say to yourself, “I deserve this love, because I have also given so much.” Life is not a transaction. To be grateful is the most natural and kind feeling, as natural as having hands, feet and a head. Gratitude awakens love and sends it far out into the world.

The third is dedication to good work. If we don’t have time, we can start by doing a little thing once every week. But first of all, observe carefully and try to find something that you notice is important to our family but that has been neglected. We can send our greetings to a colleague who has been sick for a long time and seldom heard from others. We can show more solicitude for a new neighbor and a new employee, because they need and certainly won’t reject a kindness. We can take part in a charitable activity, and do anything that benefits the public. Don’t feel the need to do many or big things that end up creating anxiety and weariness; rather, try to make other people happy by doing little things. When we see someone’s expression brighten, we know their happiness has come from you, and the delight we then savor adds a beautiful memory to our own life.

Editor: Allison
Tags: indifference, trust, compassion, loving kindness

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