The Big View

Why this resource is helpful:

Fully guided Metta (lovingkindness) meditation encouraging us to take the big view
Quoted From:

"The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
- Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Perspective is a funny thing. We tend to go through life with a very narrow view of what is going on around us, judging everything that happens in terms of how it affects us, our own happiness and well-being. Things that directly affect us, or happen close to us, or happen to people we know, have more effect on us than things that happen far away from us, or to people we don't know or don't relate to.

Of course, this is a natural starting place, and is a mechanism that helps us cope with the world. Perspective can feel like a dangerous thing. But, as we grow and evolve we can move beyond this ego-bound view of the world and start to take a bigger view.

Thou shalt give equal worth to tragedies that occur in non-English speaking countries as to those that occur in English speaking countries.
- Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, "Thou Shalt Always Kill"

Part of what we do in our metta practice is to move beyond this ego-centric view and understand the artificial nature of dividing the world into 'self' and 'other.' But just as moving beyond the delusion of those terms means we care for the well-being of others as we do for our self, it also means that we care for the well-being of our self as much as others. It's not that we become self-less, it is that when we take the big view we recognize the equality of our worth - we don't become insignificant, we become equally-significant.

The wonderful teacher Sharon Salzberg tells this story of how she came to realize this through metta meditation:

There was a time in Burma when I was practicing metta intensively. I had taken about six weeks to go through all the different categories: myself, benefactor, friend, neutral person, and enemy. After I had spent these six weeks doing the metta meditation all day long, my teacher, U Pandita, called me into his room and said, "Say you were walking in the forest with your benefactor, your friend, your neutral person, and your enemy. Bandits come up and demand that you choose one person in your group to be sacrificed. Which one would you choose to die?"

I was shocked at U Pandita's question. I sat there and looked deep into my heart, trying to find a basis from which I could choose. I saw that I could not feel any distinction between any of those people, including myself. Finally I looked at U Pandita and replied, "I couldn't choose; everyone seems the same to me."

U Pandita then asked, "You wouldn't choose your enemy?" I thought a minute and then answered, "No, I couldn't.""

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