And it happens a few times, and you know it: there are people, if you meet them you feel an unburdening. When they are gone, you feel light, you feel flowing, you feel more vibrant, more alive – as if they have taken a great burden off your head, off your chest, as if they have poured some nectar into your being. You feel a dance left within your heart when they leave. You wait again and again for them to come to you; you seek their company, you enjoy it, because you are nourished by their presence.
The opposite kind of people also exist. If they meet you they leave you more burdened than you ever were. They leave you in a kind of despair, disgust. You feel you have been sucked, your energy is lower. They have taken something from your energy and they have not given anything to you. This is an ordinary experience.
If people avoid you, remember, they are not responsible. Something in you makes them avoid you. If people don’t want to meet you, if they find excuses to escape from you, remember, they are not responsible. You must be doing something negative to their energy.
If people seek you, if people become friendly immediately, if people feel a certain affinity – even strangers would like to come and sit close to you, would like to hold your hand, would just like to be with you – that means you must be knowingly or unknowingly helping them. Everybody is burdened with great misery, everybody is under great suffering, everybody’s heart is hurting. There is much pain.
Atisha says before you can do this with the whole existence, you will have to start first with yourself. This is one of the fundamental secrets of inner growth. You cannot do anything with others that you have not done in the first place with yourself. You can hurt others if you hurt yourself, you will be a pain in the necks of others if you are a pain in the neck to yourself, you can be a blessing to others only if you are a blessing to yourself.
Whatsoever you can do with others, you must have done to yourself before, because that is the only thing that you can share. You can share only that which you have; you cannot share that which you don’t have.
Begin the development of taking with yourself.
Rather than starting by taking the whole misery of the world and absorbing it in the heart, start with your own misery. Don’t go into the deep sea so fast; learn swimming in shallow water. And if you immediately start taking the misery of the whole existence, it will remain simply an experiment in speculation. It won’t be real, it can’t be real. It will be just verbal.
You can say to yourself, “Yes, I am taking the misery of the whole world” – but what do you know of the misery of the whole world? You have not even experienced your own misery.