Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness (2016)
A Good Heart: The Companion to Pristine Mind
ONCE WE HAVE cultivated a genuine love and compassion for other beings, we don’t look at others with envy or jealousy when they are successful and happy. We acknowledge their success and rejoice in their happiness. Celebrating another person’s success is the joyous aspect of a good heart.
Once we have this joy, another’s triumph does not make us envious or covetous. Instead, we feel genuinely happy for them. It becomes a wonderful experience for us as well as for the other person.
There are many ways others may be doing well. They have just been on a great vacation, they just fell in love with someone wonderful, they just got a promotion, or maybe they just feel great today. With a good heart we are delighted for them. Wanting happiness for others is love, and delighting in the happiness they already have is rejoicing. It is the opposite of envy, a painful and unpleasant emotional state created by ego, the assumption that we can only rejoice in what we ourselves possess, or perhaps possess together with another. In this limiting condition it is only what “I” have that matters and that can contribute to our happiness.
I’m very happy you have a nice girlfriend. I’m very happy you have a nice house. I’m very happy you had a nice vacation. I’m very happy you have a good life. I’m very happy you have a successful career. I’m very happy you are doing very well. I’m very happy your meditation is good. I’m very happy you have developed enlightened qualities. I’m very happy your mind is more pristine. Any happiness or well-being you have, I appreciate it, I rejoice in it, I share in it. This is the aspect of a good heart called rejoicing.
In the absence of this quality, people have a tendency to resist enjoying other people’s happiness and success. This form of resistance often creates conflict. The more we feel this resistance, the stronger and more painful it becomes.
Resistance very quickly becomes resentment. First, we resist. The more we revisit the situation, the more we start to experience competitive feelings with that person, and the more it turns into resentment.
The more resentment we build, the more confused and unhappy we are. Not surprisingly, we then begin to behave in ways that only compound our problem.
With resistance and resentment, there is no room for peace and happiness because the world is always providing us with the fodder that feeds our resistance and increases our sense that it’s “me against the world.”
So without a good heart, there will always be something bothering us. The more we develop a good heart, the less we resist and the more easily we let go. Even if the world around us is chaotic, in the midst of that chaos we can remain in the peace and understanding that our good heart supports and facilitates.
A good heart that rejoices in others’ happiness also protects us against developing arrogance when things are going our way. With a good heart we are more natural, more down to earth. We accept that our current good fortune or elevated feeling will not last forever. If we do not have a good heart, when circumstances go well we immediately become proud or boastful, thinking we are better than others. A good heart prevents arrogance.
Good-hearted people usually refrain from doing things that make others angry or jealous. In contrast, arrogant people behave in ways that upset others. They act as if they are superior to other people. Someone with a good heart does not do that. A good heart protects us from many such pitfalls and potential problems within ourselves or with others. A good heart creates happiness and harmony.
Without a good heart, a person often sees the world as hostile, complicated, and unrewarding. But once we have a good heart we have a different perspective. We see and experience the world with more compassion and love. We have understanding, patience, openness, and forgiveness. Even if our surroundings are in a state of chaos, we respond to the circumstances with the inclinations and attitudes of a good heart. That lets us have a harmonious experience no matter where we go and whom we are with.