It took a long time to accept that I see the world differently. I never quite understood that when I was young. I always thought I was just missing something or felt confused or wondered why people behaved the way they did. And, as most people do, I looked at myself and wondered what was wrong with me, before looking outward and considering that perhaps my perspective was fine, and to ask why others saw the world the way they did. For years I didn’t understand that my sense of compassion wasn’t a flaw, and because I didn’t understand it, I guarded my heart quite jealously, so much so that I stopped really feeling it.
It took a lot of work to dig my heart out under the layers of protection I’d built up so that I’d feel like I fit in (but still never quite did). That process of digging out my heart was really one of stripping away layers of ego, the pieces of me that said I shouldn't feel, that I had to be tougher to survive, that tenderness was a form of weakness and not a strength. What I learned along the way is that when the ego dissolves it doesn’t disappear—it expands. It’s not the expansion of the self that wants to dominate, create empires, accumulate wealth and power and control others. That’s the ego’s desire for expansion. That’s the story of the self we’ve experienced for millennia.
No, when the ego dissolves, you see the world differently, and the mind expands to encompass more of it, and to feel more of it. The sense of what is important to the self, what the self is responsible for, and where the self can connect all increase. It’s a compassionate ego that looks at the world and says, “That’s my responsibility too.” The walls we all draw around ourselves, the boundaries that we use to keep certain parts of the world at bay, saying “this is me, and that is not me,” break down, so that you welcome more of the world to come in, sit down, and call your heart its home. That's what it means to see the world through the eyes of the heart.