Q. How should I handle disrespect, inconsiderateness and rudeness?

A. I can’t tell you the way you should handle it. I can tell you the way I’d handle it. I can offer an example which would be up to you to choose to follow.

The thing is that when we live our lives in sadhana [spiritual practice] and others seem to only have concern for themselves then it’s like a kick in the teeth for us who live our life in service. We’re faced with someone who just doesn’t care. We’re faced with someone who is so involved with their own story, their own drama that they’re just not ready to accept that someone else might have something going on too. Now, we can’t just turn to them and shout and scream. We’re “spiritual people”, we can’t do that. That’s not in the rulebook. So how do we handle it?

Now, I wake up every day ready to be there for anybody who needs me. Some days it’s nobody at all. Some days, it’s several people. Regardless, my spiritual practice, my religion if you like, is to be there and to be love. To stand with my heart open with those who are in pain. To give my time and energy to those who need it, to see suffering relieved and peace restored.

When I’m shoved with someone who just cares about themselves and their own stories or something, it hurts me. It hurts different parts of me for different reasons. It hurts my mind, my ideas, because the mind goes, “How come they get to be a total arse and I’m here taking the high road allthe time. When does that get fair?” I might even get righteous, “Look at me, I’m a bloody Saint here and you’re not appreciating me.”

But then I turn around and look into their eyes and I see pain. I see the “me and mine” attitude, I see their preservationist, survivalist attitude and I see them hurting. I look into their eyes and I’m hit with it, like a sack of brick cats it thwacks me in the face… The pain in their heart is the same as the pain in mine. The pain is no different from the pain I feel when I am hurting. Maybe the circumstances are different but pain is pain. I see that pain and I recognise it as the same as mine; the same as the pain that I am trying to relieve elsewhere. And then I realise: “my sadhana is here.” I realise, the pain in this persons heart is not their pain… The pain in my heart is not my pain… It’s just pain. And pain is pain. And then I want to cry and hug them and tell them it’s going to be okay. I want to kiss them on the forehead, invite them over to dinner and feed them home-made cakes. But that’s weird. It’s not normal. That’s not what people do. So I’m just kind instead.

[Taken from a recent conversation between Andey Fellowes and a fellow spiritual seeker]

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