Vietnemese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh recently spoke in a live webstream from Plum Village (the community he set up in France) about many things, one of which really struck a chord with me about relationships. He has produced four mantras which help us to learn compassion for each other, and to better open up lines of communication, which is key to any relationship. The four mantras are:
- Darling, I’m here for you.
- Darling, I know you are there…and I’m so happy you are there.
- Darling, I know you suffer…that is why I am here for you.
- Darling, I suffer – I am trying my best to practice. Please help me.
The first mantra, “Darling, I’m here for you” demonstrates that the other is not alone in this world. Indeed, we are never alone – the idea of being alone is one that has hounded us ever since we made the mind/body disconnection. The rationalists and the materialists have argued this one thoroughly, so I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say that within most branches of paganism, the mind are body are thought of as connected. That being said, through our bodies we are all connected to every other thing on this planet – we contain minerals in our blood that are found in stars, we breathe the air our ancestors breathed, we are all held down by gravity. There can be no separation in the truest sense. Our current lives lead us to believe that there is separation – could this simply be a marketing ploy, to divide and conquer? Something to think about later… but I digress. When we say “Darling, I’m here for you” we are putting the needs of another ahead of our own, as well as showing them that they are not alone. In today’s society, that can be and is a great gift that we can give to others.
The second mantra, “Darling, I know you are there, and I am so happy you are there” shows us the joy that others give us, simply by sharing this journey is life. It is a simple recognition of another soul, which again in today’s society can be so lacking. We lead such virtual and busy lives that speaking these words can reconnect us to the one that means so much to us. We take so many things for granted, and we should never, ever take our loved ones for granted. We must remind ourselves each and every day how wonderful it is to have these people in our lives. Allowing ourselves to feel the joy in having someone in our life is another gift, and when we express that joy, that joy spreads throughout the world.
The third mantra, “Darling, I know you suffer, that is why I am here for you” enables us to feel compassion for others in our lives, to show them that we see that they suffer. So often people feel that they are suffering alone, and when we acknowledge the suffering of others, we immediately have more compassion for them, whether they are our loved ones or not. Everyone is fighting their own battles. This changes not only our worldview, but changes the perception of those whom we are trying to connect to. Simply listening to someone, truly listening to them, is a great aspect of this mantra. So often we are not listened to – we are often heard, but is anyone really listening? To give your full heart and attention when someone is trying to connect with you, or vice versa, is key to any relationship.
The fourth mantra, “Darling, I suffer – I am trying my best to practice. Please help me” is perhaps the hardest one to fulfil. So often our egos get in the way that we simply cannot ask for help, let alone allow others to see our suffering. How many times have you “suffered in silence”? Why do we do this? Sometimes, when a loved one has upset us, and then they ask us “What is wrong?” our immediate response is “Nothing,” filled with anger, fear and tension. They know that something is wrong, but we refuse to tell them in an attempt to punish them for hurting us. If we allow that hurt to express itself, it will not linger and communication can open up in order to find a resolution. If we simply answered the question, without judgement or anger, we might be able to see the other side. We must admit to others that they have upset us, and we must do our best not to let our anger get control. We feel our anger, but we do not attach to it. By not attaching to it, we can talk about it with greater compassion and find greater healing. We do our best to practice. When we ask for help, we are putting aside our egos and allowing that other person in. It’s not easy, but it does change everything. So often our anger is based on a misperception, and allowing the room for that perception to be corrected gives us greater scope for compassion in the world today.
These four mantras are changing the way that I relate to others, I feel in a truly positive and beneficial way for everyone. For that, I am truly thankful!