I have not always loved people. In fact there was a time I wanted to be a forest ranger just so that I could go off and live in a forest in a cabin all by myself, never having to deal with people. I outright hated people.
I am not saying that I hated this or that person, I hated ALL people. I hated the very idea of people. I hated humanity. If there was a button that I could have pushed to wipe humanity off the planet I would have jumped on it with both feet.
And, I would say that the feeling was mutual; humanity seemed to hate me.
That has now all changed. I have totally changed my attitude toward and behavior with people. As I said, I love people. I love to be around people. I love crowds, small groups, meeting (even boring meetings sometimes). I love any opportunity to interact with humanity, even people who do not speak my language. I love both left wing and right wing conservatives, liberal of any sort, ever haters of the darkest kind. In fact, I sometimes feel of most value to humanity when I am with people who are obsessed with hate, for I am constantly looking for a way to help them out of that darkness. My heart opens to them for I can still remember what it was like to be in that hellish dark pit of existence.
How did I go from hating to loving people or humanity? Honesty, being honest with MYSELF.
When I was a hater my anger and hate was based on the lies I was telling myself, lies that I had learned to tell myself from my family and society at large. Eventually I recognized that everyone was doing that and that they had learned that from their parents, the lies had been handed down from generation to generation with only an occasional person daring to question them, daring to challenge the basic assumptions of society for fear of being further ostracized or rejected by humanity.
But I was now willing to question those assumptions because I felt totally ostracized and rejected by humanity and I had totally rejected humanity, therefore I had nothing to lose.
Getting honest with myself was not easy and in fact was not just very difficult it was actually dangerous. I had to learn to be nice to myself first, nice enough to not beat myself up around all the terrible things I had been doing to myself all these years.
This learning to be nice to myself came in the form of mindfulness, which is one of the basic skills one learns in meditation. Mindfulness is not meditation, it is something we do to prepare for meditation. Mindfulness is watching ourselves, our thoughts and our behaviors as we go about our life to see where we are creating pain and trouble for ourselves.
I realized that my greatest pain came from my reactions to others. It really did not matter what they did, sometimes I would just take offense at them and I was off and running directly to my own personal hell.
It was a painful day that I finally accept that I was my own worst enemy. But it was the beginning of the end of my personal hell, for until I was honest enough with MYSELF to accept the fact that I was my own worst enemy nothing was going to change.
I had a terrible habit of telling myself that it was other people’s fault that I was angry or upset or offended or whatever. I had learned to lie to myself in this way from all the people around me; everybody was doing it so why wouldn’t I lie to myself also.
It took me many years to stop my habit of blaming others for my reactions to them, and it took many more years to stop reacting to the world around me. In fact, I still react to the world around me in ways that does not always add to the quality of my life experience, but at least I now never blame the world for my reactions, for that would only trap me in that hellish experience.
As I look back on the process of how I stopped my self-injurious behavior that it was not necessarily the practice of meditation that stopped it, but the realizations that came from the clarity that I obtained in meditation that helped me see that practicing positive emotions instead of the negative ones I had been ‘practicing’ all my life was what was going to change my experience.
Meditation just helped me see this. Meditation is just the practice of finding stillness within so that you can gain clarity that will enable you to see the truth of what is really going, that truth will set you free to enjoy and love what life is offering.