Just Like Me
by Mark Chmiel
Jeffrey Hopkins, the Dalai Lama’s translator for ten years, tells a story about traveling with him in the West. Wherever he went, His Holiness would repeat in English, “Everyone wants happiness, doesn’t want suffering.” He would go to an airport or a lecture hall or a news conference and say, “Everyone wants happiness, doesn’t want suffering.” At first Jeffrey thought, “Why does he keep saying this?” because it seemed so simplistic and ordinary. But after a while the message began to sink in, and he thought, “Yes, I need that!” It is simple, but it is also profoundly true, and it was exactly the kind of teaching he needed to hear.
The equality practice is simply to remember this fact whenever you meet another person. You think, “Just like me, she wants to be happy; she does’t want to suffer.” You might choose to practice this for a whole day, or maybe for just an hour or fifteen minutes. I really appreciate this practice, because it lifts the barrier of indifference to other people’s joy, to their private pain, and to their wonderful uniqueness.”—Pema Chodron, Tonglen: The Path of Transformation (2001).