I believe happiness in our intimate relations can change the world. Our feminine and masculine essence is absolutely precious; and when we can give this freely, without any expectation of return, it is the most valuable substance on earth.
How we give our most sacred, most special essence is a matter of practicing the skill of what the Buddhists call ‘Exchanging Your Self for Others’.
We tend to think our most intimate expressions happen under the sheets wrapped in the arms of a lover. Yet, the secret to having more of these moments, if this is what you want, is by practicing Benevolent Compassion.
Exchanging Your Self for Others is an active practice of Benevolent Compassion. It’s a matter of learning to observe by watching, asking questions to find out, noticing reactions, and constantly listening for clues about what someone likes. You will begin to see that the most revealing clues about what we really like come out unconsciously.
This reminds me of a story I heard from a monk who devoted his life welcoming guests into a Tibetan monastery.
If you dropped by for a visit to this monastery, you would be greeted by the monk. As he welcomed you through the door, you’d soon find yourself sitting at the cozy kitchen table, chatting about why you were there.
The monk seemed to be puttering around, preparing something or other while listening to your story. Actually however, he was practicing the skill of exchanging yourself for others.
On the table was a plate of sweet cookies, and another of savory breads. A perpetual pot of warm soup would be simmering on the stove.
Where would your eyes linger? Was it for something sweet, or salty? In the most subtle of ways, he would notice what caught your attention the most.
The next time you would come by, along with remembering what you said, he’d serve something you liked without ever asking. You wouldn’t even know why you always felt so good, you just did.
This story inspires a way to give with benevolent compassion. As you take pleasure hunting for and finding out what he or she likes best, you then give it without them ever asking for it.
The absolute best response someone can give is ‘How did you know I wanted this?’
The best is when they have no idea that you’d like nothing more than to share in their delight this way.
Ah, the pleasure of being able to give.