“The heart becomes wide by forgetting the self, and narrow by thinking of the self and by pitying one's self. To gain a wide and broad heart you must have something before you to look upon and to rest your intelligence upon, and that something is the God-ideal.”
-Hazrat Inayat Khan
Albert Einstein wrote about the delusion of thinking of ourselves as separate entities. He described this limited consciousness as a prison that restricts us to our own personal desires and to a limited affection for the people nearest to us. He said, “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
To widen our circles of compassion we can call upon the wellspring of love, joy and gratitude deep within our hearts. We can extend these qualities to others regardless of their relationship to us, regardless of whether they like us or not, regardless of whether we even know them or not.
The universe is like a dome. It echoes back whatever we think into it. If we throw dust at the sun, it simply falls back into our own eyes. This is a universal law of existence and it can be a great teaching device if we let it. The universe responds tit for tat. Some would call this is tough love. Perhaps it is, because it is Love indeed; there is no judgment, no condemnation, just a simple echo.
In the Gospels of Mathew and Luke Jesus says “Judge not, least ye be judged.” What does this mean? If we judge another in truth we are actually judging ourselves. This is the principle of projection. We judge others for what we dislike about ourselves. Judging others constricts the circle of compassion, imprisoning us in the tight little sphere of our own harshness. Putting others first is the antidote to egoic thinking. In attempting to do so all sorts of negative thoughts may arise, giving us a chance to look at them, disbelieve them and let them go
Hazrat Inayat Khan has written: “How beautiful are the words of the Prophet: 'The shrine of God is the heart of man.' How true that is! ... He who understands this can worship God even in man. For when he abides by this philosophy he will always be aware that in every aspect and at every moment he may be injuring or hurting the feelings of God, that he is in danger of breaking the shrine of God in breaking the heart of his fellow man. ... What does all this teach us? It is all a lesson in sympathy for one's fellow man, to teach us to share in his troubles, in his despair. For whoever really experiences this joy of life, finds that it becomes so great that it fills his heart and his soul. It does not matter if he has fewer comforts or an inferior position than many in this world, because the light of his kindness, of his sympathy, of the love that is growing, the virtue that is springing up in his heart, all fill the soul with light. There is nothing now that he lacks in life, for he has become the king of it.”
In other words such a one has opened wide the circle of compassion. When this happens a sweetness suddenly enters our eyes. All we behold is innocent. Innocent of right doing. Innocent of wrong doing. All is doing just what it is doing. This is tolerance. This is forbearance. This is Love.