Wonderful spiritual qualities, such as unbounded love and compassion, are present as potentials in all our minds. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
Spiritual qualities, or just about anything else, exist in our minds as potential. We can be great or small in so many different aspects of our lives, spiritual or otherwise. We can also be great in the direction of good or in the direction of evil. All of these lie as potential within us.
In this quote he is concentrating on the “wonderful” qualities of the spirit, specifically love and compassion. The more interesting point, to me, is that he attributes them to potential of the mind, not of the heart.
Why is potential important?
We all have potential. Potential is just the difference between what we are and what we could become. Even professional athletes have potential, and they are always trying to achieve that last little bit of skill.
In the case of this quote, we are looking specifically at our potential for love and our potential. He believes we humans have an unbounded potential, that there is no limit to how much love nor any limit to how much compassion we can feel, experience, and share.
If your potential for anything is unbounded, there will always be room for improvement, by definition. Take a moment and think of the concept of unbounded potential for love. Imagine all the love you have ever felt, and imagine it could be ten times greater. Imagine all the compassion you have ever felt, both by others for you and by you for others. Now imagine that it could be ten times greater. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Why would this quote talk about the potential being in our minds, rather than in our hearts (the usual home of love and compassion)? I pondered on that one for a few days before I came up with this idea. I have no idea if this is what he was getting at, but think about it and see what you think.
My thought is that our heart’s potential is truly limitless, and that the problem we have is with the mind. When we choose to withhold love, when we choose not to show compassion, the choice is made in our minds. In my opinion, the mind is the only place where love and compassion are ever denied. I don’t believe our hearts would deny either to anyone without our mind getting in the way.
I think we have sufficiently covered the potential aspect of the quote, so let’s move on to the specified qualities of love and compassion. Both of these have an inbound and outbound component. You can love others, and others can love you. Same with compassion, so we’ve got six aspects to consider. You didn’t forget self love and self compassion, did you?
How much of your problem with love is in your head, as opposed to your heart? In fact, are any of your problems with love in your heart? In each of the cases we discuss (below), when you did it well, what did you do to get your head out of the way and let your heart do it’s job? Consider what aspects of your love has room for improvement, and try to come up with some ideas on how to get your head right.
How well do you do at giving love? Do you ever withhold love from someone on purpose? Can love be turned on and off like a switch? Is it to be used as punishment? What was your best moment of giving love and how did that make you feel?
How good are you at receiving love? Do you feel worthy? Do you have other issues that prevent you from feeling comfortable with love from others? What was your best moment at allowing another person to love you and how did that feel?
How good are you at self love? It is hard for many people. Look inside yourself and try to figure out how much of the problem is in your head, as opposed to being in your heart. What was your best moment of truly loving and accepting yourself and how did that feel?
For the quality of compassion, just redo the three paragraphs above with the word compassion in place of the word love. How did the exercises go? Do you believe that the mind is where the limiting of our potential is taking place? Have you come up with any ideas relating to your mind and how it is getting in the way? Have you brainstormed any ideas for getting your mind out of the way? Grab some paper and start writing, unless you’ve got it all in your head. 8)
What other “wonderful spiritual qualities” are lurking within you? Take some time to consider the answer. Then take some time to develop one or two of these qualities. If you came up with more than just a few qualities, feel free to work on more, or to trade between them from time to time. From the little I have done this week, it’s a journey well worth the trouble of taking.