Seeing Differences

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

When I was a teenager, I felt my face and body did not measure up.  The “look” promoted in all the movies and magazines seemed completely unattainable.  Especially I disliked my nose.  I remember telling a friend that I thought she had a perfect nose.  I wished mine was like hers.  Surprised, she shared that she thought my nose was perfect and she wished hers was like mine.  I was shocked!  We were both wishing for what the other had.  Worse, we were in pain about it.  Any time you see differences, you will be in pain.

Just as noses come in all sizes and shapes, so do trees.  Recently I walked through the woods on a sun-dappled afternoon.  I sat and watched the light flickering through the leaves of a stand of trees.  The trees featured many shapes and sizes, all of them so beautiful.  It’s easy to see beauty in the differences when you look at trees, but not when you look at people.  Why?

It’s because you don’t feel threatened by a tree.  But with every person, you wonder if they are friend or foe.  Your mind harbors a background anxiety that undermines your ability to be welcoming and friendly.  Worse, you compare yourself with everyone you see.  It’s painful, whether you come out on top or they do.

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There’s another way to live.  You can see the differences, yet love and appreciate them all.  My children taught me this – all so different, yet all so loveable.  I have the same experience with meditation students.  They bring their mind and body, which have been through life experiences as well as prior studies and trainings.  Each of them that asks a question gives me a gift, an insight into their starting point and an opportunity to help them with their upliftment.  It’s so beautiful to see their uniqueness, yet with the Divine shining through.

It’s like a building with stained glass windows.  The light shining through is the one light, yet each window colors that light in its own unique way.  But a visitor will walk down the row and say, “I like this one and don’t like that one.”  What if you looked at the light that’s shining through?  Every window is a marvel, a work of art that can move you, if you let it.

In the same way, this entire world is a glorious creation, with one light shining through all beings.  People, like trees, are all worthy of being treasured and cared for.  Regardless of the shape of their nose or color of their hair or skin, they shine.  There is one light shining through all eyes, regardless of their color or shape.  Look at the light!  See it in all its glorious forms. 

This is easy to do when you have found it in yourself.  This is your starting point.  Once you find the light of your own Divine Essence, you see it in all.  The differences remain, yet they don’t matter.  This is mysticism.  This is yoga.