But recently while meditating, I realized that one must also specifically accept that your loved ones may be in pain or struggling or even just unclear at that moment. But we usually don’t. If you have a child or loved one, you do not want to see it in any pain or struggling or confused. And so you want to help him/her in any way that you can.
Why? Part of it is undoubtedly ego … helping someone feels good. The ego likes to think that someone needs our help. The ego likes to strut its stuff.
But I realized that a larger part of it is that I didn’t accept that the person I loved would experience suffering or struggle. That was not acceptable to me, that he would be in pain or confused, and so I was obsessive about doing whatever I could to spare him from those life experiences. Even quite minor things.
The irony of such action is that it is hugely counterproductive. What you actually do when you try to help someone in this way is take away their self-confidence because they read your help as indicating that you don’t feel they can find their way on their own. And so your effort to help ends up leaving the person feeling defeated and depressed.
The Buddha once said that one should not love someone, in the sense of being attached, because that leads inevitably to suffering. He was roundly criticized by many for making that statement, but the truth of the statement was ultimately realized. The trick is to love without being attached. This is one of the hardest things to achieve spiritually. To love and allow the other person to be free; to be a positive support to them, yes, but not to feel that they need to be helped or protected, whether it’s coming from your ego or compassion. People must learn how to protect themselves and find their own way.