What if others saw only your best qualities, your highest potential?
What if they each wished for you only your greatest good?
How would that feel?
What if we could each offer this to each other?
I am inspired by a story I once heard and tell often. The story is set in a remote African village far from modern ideas. This ancient tribe has lived together and cared for each other for many generations. Together, as a culture, they focus on cultivating their highest and best qualities for the benefit of the whole community. They put their attention on what they appreciate. In gratitude and joy, they celebrate the beauty and the blessings in each other and in their lives.
As with any gathering of human beings, from time to time there is someone in the community who does something contrary to the agreed expectations. I was curious to learn how they address these transgressions. It is quite different from the culture I was raised in. The members of this tribe do not use their energy to judge, to criticize, or to condemn. They do not punish, divide or lock people away.
As the story was told to me, Hafrim, the youngest son of a successful farmer stole the walking stick of a nearby neighbor. Hafrim was intrigued by the intricate carvings and the strong flexible quality of the wood. He took it with him on long walks and would spin and throw and jump with his newly found treasure. His heart knew he had taken what didn’t belong to him, he knew it would not be looked on with favor by his tribe. His pride had wanted it and convinced him the old man didn’t need this beautiful stick anymore. Each day after his walk, Hafrim would hide the stick in the bushes on his way home.
One day Hafrim was spotted returning the stick to its hiding place by the grandson of the neighbor to whom the stick belonged. The grandson shared what he had seen with his grandfather. That night the leaders of the community called everyone together.
The chief and her husband presided over the gathering. Hafrim was asked to sit in the middle of the circle, he was presented with the stick. As he sat alone in the circle, each member of the tribe came to him and told him of the beautiful qualities they see in him. Some talked about his youthfulness, others his bright and curious spirit. One young woman reminded him of his strong shoulders and sweet smile, Hafrim blushed as he felt joy at her regard. His father reminded him of the love and respect he always showed his Mother. His teachers from school applauded his accomplishments. As he held the stick, he felt a warm flush in his body. He became aware of the pain he had likely caused his neighbor when he took this fine walking stick. Treating it as his own, he had disregarded the feelings of another, he would not have wanted someone to do this to him.
Hafrim stood, knowing he was loved and cared for, he did not feel defensive. He knew clearly it had not been his best choice to take the stick. He turned and bowed to each member of the tribe. When he caught the eye of his elder neighbor, he walked to him and with humility and remorse, handed him the walking stick. Hafrim apologized for his selfish actions.
Hearing the sincerity in his words the grandfather put his arm around Hafrim and asked him about the time he spent with the stick. What did he enjoy about it? Why was it important to him? The old man listened attentively and then shared all about what the stick meant to him. They each sought to understand the feelings and the actions of the other.
No one in this community is ever condemned for their behavior. They each seek to understand the other, to see in each other their highest and best qualities, and to reflect them back, a practice serving the individual and the whole.
Can I love my fellow humans enough to meet any unkindness or disrespect they offer with the loving-kindness they really need? Can I choose love in each moment?
Let’s do a little practice together to exercise our loving-kindness muscles. Click this link, relax and get comfortable as we drop into our hearts …
Come alive on your journey through the power of mindfulness & intentionally. Explore the transformative power of universal Love and Compassion. Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with Shey to define your needs and craft a program that is right for you or your group.