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Image by Tom Gifford

“…Close your eyes and just notice your breathing for several minutes. As you breath in imagine the energy of your breath going into the center of your Heart Chakra in the center of your chest. Breathe gently like this while focusing on your Heart Chakra. When your mental energy has settled down a bit and you feel relaxed and open, remember a time when you felt strong love for someone. Feel that love in your heart. Continue with this until you have a definite sensation of love in your heart. Once you have even the slightest feeling of love in your heart, just continue by remaining focused on that feeling. Let that feeling grow and attract your attention more and more.

As you become proficient with this practice, your attention and consciousness will drift ever deeper into the space of the heart. It will seem that your consciousness has descended from being centered in your head to being located in your heart. It is in this new condition that a deep peace, contentment and loving joy will be discovered. You may also notice the sensation that the heart is like an aperture on a camera that is now opening or dilating wider. This is a good indication that your practice is moving in the right direction. One should just continue with the exercise as outlined above. the rest will develop spontaneously and organically. If you like, you may also engage in the practice as I described above regarding what I was taught in Nepal. But above all, forget about your thoughts and imagined stories, and just rest and relax completely in this clear and aware heart space of your True Nature.”

— Jackson Peterson, The Natural Bliss of Being

I was fifteen years old when the headmaster of the private school I had attended for two years told me, as he invited me not to come back the following year, that my English teacher thought I was “almost a genius.” He didn’t say my math teacher thought I was almost an idiot but he might well have done. I puzzled over that declaration for several years, finally deciding that whatever that goodhearted English teacher saw was something I was not equipped to see, and anyway that word “almost” emptied the word genius of all meaning.

Yesterday a reader of one of my Medium posts remarked that it read as “almost poetry.” That’s high praise in my book, in spite of that qualifying word, because I have a high regard for poetry and poets. That word “almost has woven a thread through my life. I’m almost French (but not quite), I’m such a longtime expat that I’m almost not American anymore. I’m almost not even a member of my nuclear family since my parents died and the remaining group of offspring splintered into remote fiefdoms.

With my one-foot-in/one-foot-out modus operandi, I have never quite settled the question of what I am and what I am not, possibly because I’ve been peering through the wrong lens. I’ve been looking for inborn capacity, talent, overlooking my particular sum of basic humanity. The quotation above looks in that direction, and it’s now a direction the whole human race needs to be directing its gaze, in my opinion. Without a heart of kindness and courage, we humans probably don’t have much of a future.

That principle comes right down to the individual level. We each will be required to become more humane in our personal thoughts and actions. Multiplied by millions, we can remake the world, which is where individual abilities come in, but putting talent first gets the cart before the horse.

If we would instruct our young in how to live a worthy life, we would do well to emphasize the quality of the person who possesses the talent rather than putting the talent in the driver’s seat.

I think it’s more important to be human than brilliant.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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