We can apply don’t-know mind to our relationships. One common habit of mind in relationship to others is to judge and evaluate according to our views and opinions about how others should behave (as one saying goes: it’s easier to see an ant on another’s nose than a yak on your own). However, we can try seeing differently and with greater understanding and compassion. As Rumi wrote: 'Half of any person is wrong and weak and off the path. Half! The other half is dancing and swimming and flying in the invisible joy.'
The meditator’s path is not about trying to become perfect. It is a path that leads to inner freedom. I have found meditators to be some of the most idealistic people in the world. It makes sense that we would be; after all, we are aiming for the highest happiness. But when idealism is self-centered – as in ‘I’ have to be perfect – it is debilitating and exhausting, certainly for ourselves but also for those around us upon whom we are projecting our need for perfection. As the Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki reminds us, practice is making one mistake after another.
… Aiming for perfection can be seductive and compelling. Given that the society in which we live supports the idea that perfection is attainable, it can feel like our own personal fault if we are not.
Here it’s worth noting that there is a difference between harm and hurt. Harm is when we intentionally cause someone pain. Hurt is what happens in relationship, when more than one person is involved. Hurt is inevitable because of our differences. Of course, to apologize when we’ve hurt someone is skillful. But to hold the moments of hurt that occur in all relationships as equal to the times we have engaged in harmful actions is unwarranted.”
Narayan Helen Liebenson. “The Magnanimous Heart. Compassion and Love, Loss and Grief, Joy and Liberation.” Wisdom Publications, 2018. (A wise, warm, well-written book IMHO)
There’s an old story about the changes monks undergo from moving into a monastery and living in close quarters with the same group of people. At the beginning, each monk’s idiosyncrasies are like angular protrusions jutting out from the surface of a pebble. Initially, there are a lot of (at least potentially irritating) protrusions. But the years spent together in the monastery, has a similar effect as keeping a handful of pebbles in one’s pocket continuously for a long time. The pebbles eventually wear each other smooth.
"The road to wisdom? Well, it's plain and simple to express:
Err and err and err again, but less and less and less." Piet Hein
“When we see clearly that every single human being, regardless of fame or fortune or age or brains or beauty, shares the same ordinary foibles, a strange thing happens. We begin to cheer up, to loosen up … we find ourselves among friends. We sit back, and enjoy the ride.”
Elizabeth Lesser. “Broken Open. How Difficult Times can Help Us Grow.” Villard, 2005.