"If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can't accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don't make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform. So the big question is: how do we help our hearts to grow?"
I read this yesterday morning and it is really sticking with me. The metaphor is so powerful. When my husband started to micromanage me from across the room, as he tends to do, I could see that his words were like salt and I remembered this teaching. I took a breath, smiled to myself and imagined that my heart was expanding and the salt was not able to affect the quality of my being. I was able to witness the moment objectively, rather than getting hooked. Without this teaching, I might have gotten bugged and snapped back at him, which would have been counterproductive. Instead, I just kept moving and was able to stay in a positive frame of mind.
There are so many times when I catch myself being unskillful in my interactions with others and I beat up on myself because I have so far to go before I can be like my spiritual teachers. But then something like this will happen and I can give myself a pat on the back and see that I am making some growth on this path toward being consistently awake and at peace.
If this post resonates with you--if you are on a similar path, please leave a comment. One of my reasons for creating this blog is to generate a supportive community for like-minded folks.