Compliments feel good, and insults hurt. On a subtler level, compliments improve our self confidence and insults weaken it. Even more subtly, we may start to choose our actions by guessing what others would compliment us for doing. Upon further reflection, I discover that a large percentage of my actions are dictated by what other people will think of those actions. It’s easier to take actions that are supported by the people around me. Life becomes complicated when a decision is interpreted in opposing ways by multiple groups that I care about. If I make choices based on what other people want, it’s easy to get lost with no right answer.
If I take the opposite approach and decide to make all decisions independently, I get lost again because I don’t know where to look for guidance, and it feels like I’m making arrogant guesses. This puzzle made me realize two things. First, since I have a limited understanding of truth and what is right, I need to constantly balance my personal wisdom and others wisdom when I make choices. Second, and more interestingly, that there is a connection between wisdom and love.
This second point was a surprise to me because I’ve always kept wisdom and love separate, but how can I truly love something if I don’t understand it. Without a complete understanding, I’m really just guessing with my love, the same way that I guess what others would like for me to do. As my understanding grows, so does my ability to love, or, as my Vipassana practice becomes stronger so does my Metta practice.
I struggle more with the reciprocal. Can I truly understand something if I don’t love it? Throughout all of my schooling I was never taught the importance love in my education. Certainly, if I loved a specific subject I was more encouraged to study, but what did I really love? Did I love the attention I got for being good at something? Did I love the actual topic? I certainly don’t have a handle on how love influences my education, but I’m growing to believe in its importance. Maybe you have some thoughts. Time to meditate.