Universal Tender Heart & Universal Responsibility

As human beings we share in common our universal tender heart. Every move and response we make comes from our tender heart.  This responsiveness has no beginning nor end; it is ongoing - from the time we wake up until the time we go to sleep.  For short periods of time, when we are deep asleep, there perhaps is nothing to witness or respond to from our universal tender heart.  But, afterwards, while dreaming, we are continuously responding.  All beings are continuously responding to their universal tender heart. We may think of ourselves as separate from others and others may think of themselves separate from us.  Yet, we all are the same in that we need to respond to our universal tender heart, all the time, minute by minute, second by second. 

We watch our own mind respond—or often not respond—to our universal tender heart. In both cases there is a process of moving towards a need, whatever that need may be.  Sometimes, we notice that this process can seem quite fuzzy, unclear and mechanical. We are simply acting habitually. Yet, when we watch carefully, and observe attentively, looking below the surface, we see how our mind and very being are always responding to the universal tender heart in the context of what is happening in any specific moment, and therefore we become very alive.  It becomes very clear how our lives and the whole of our existence is not just some inanimate mechanical production but very, very tender.  The more we become aware of how our universal tender heart is always present in our mind, the more we experience that our world is imbued with so much feeling of this tender heart along with tenderness toward our very being. 

We witness that our world is governed by responding to universal needs at a very basic level, and that we are all creatures responding to our own particular universal tender heart and its needs. This has nothing to do with one’s ego.  People who have thus gone beyond the ego, the Arhats, Bodhisattvas in the bhumis, and the Buddha himself, also respond to that need. 

But, although the universal tender heart is always present, there can be an unconsciousness of how we are not that different from each other, not different at all.  In fact, everyone is in the same boat.  Everyone is in the same shoes as we are. When we are fully aware of that similarity, that is sanity. When we forget that, when our mind has no consciousness and more so purposefully ignores this fact that one and others are all the same, this is what we would label as insanity. That active ignorance becomes an unacceptable attitude or approach to life when we take it even further and move from not just being unconscious (ignoring and denying that we and all others are same) but, at the expense of others, we try to build our own comfortable world around fulfilling our needs.  That's the beginning of insanity. 

We could end up being very tender to ourselves and our loved ones, yet be very vicious to others.  Like a mother tiger can jump on a vulnerable, helpless deer that is just grazing on the plain to get a mouthful of grass to feed itself, posing no thread or harm to anyone.  Then, in the same moment, the tiger may turn around to her own cubs and lick them with such a tender mind and heart.  This kind of dichotomy is the beginning of insanity: when you are one way to others and another way to yourself; one way to yourself and immediately after, different to others. When one’s own self-love has grown too big and obscures our universal tender heart, beyond necessity, beyond ordinary needs; when one has become a predator to others—these are all aspects of what we can call insanity. 

When our life looks different on the outside from our life on the inside, when it doesn't quite match and we don't even recognize ourselves and others in any remote way as equal, we can safely say we are in the prison of our bubble of unconsciousness, with a lop-sided mind, with denial. From this state, we push our own self-interest on others. When one’s mind is lop-sided and unconscious in this way, we tend to push past the fact that a universal tender heart is all-pervasive and continue to march forward towards our next conquest. 

How could somebody be happy inside living like this, with this ignorance of what is so obvious all around us?  So, we have to make a choice: do we want to seemingly be happy by staying ignorant of our similarity with others and pushing only our own agenda? Or do we want to be seemingly unhappy—in terms of happiness as it is measured and judged through the lens of the eight worldly concerns—but rather wise, sane, and content with our own wise, awake, modest intelligence, which guides us towards sanity throughout our life? 

To achieve that, what we need is to be in touch with our universal heart and accept ourselves and others as equal while noticing how we observe and respond to this, how others are responding to this in their own lives, and how we and others are really identical, with no gaps whatsoever. If there is a gap, we acknowledge that the gap is more or less based on our projections.  We also acknowledge quite frankly that when we turn away from the universality of our tender heart, suffering is generated and the seeds are sown of suffering that will later ripen in our mind.   

So, what do we do?  We turn back to developing sensitivity to our genuine good heart, genuine tender heart, genuine resolved discipline to not cause harm based on the integrity of our own universal tender heart and our deep understanding  of how it responds, and how we and others are all equal. Observing this continually, it becomes very clear to us that causing any harm to others to satisfy our ego is insane. We understand that any justification of reasons to cause others to suffer in the name of renown, fame, power, wealth, and so on, can not be a source of happiness.  

As we begin to generate some awareness of our universal tender heart, but are not yet able to extend ourselves to others, my advice is: at least try to stay humble.  Aspire to stay within the boundary of not consciously ignoring the fact that we are all in the same boat and same shoes, and instead notice that our universal tender heart is always, moment-to-moment, second-to-second, trying to call to us. And aspire to respond to its call.