(Photo above by Ryutaro Tsukata / Pexels)
What we expect from our relationships and what we experience can be two different things. But it’s the disconnect between the two that causes feelings of loneliness. That’s why even if we’re around people, it doesn’t offer a sense of connection.
What’s needed to develop more meaningful connections with those around us? These three points are thought starters for your journey to developing meaningful connections with others.
The human heart changes from moment to moment.
It’s no secret that our hearts can change in an instant. One moment, we may feel on top of the world and the next, like there can’t be anyone who is suffering more than us. At times, we may overflow with appreciation for our friends and at other times, we wonder if our friends understand us at all.
Regardless, we can still develop genuine relationships where we can strive to understand others and, in turn, be understood.
What if I don’t feel like I have any close friends?
That’s OK. Daisaku Ikeda, the Buddhist philosopher, offers the following advice:
But if some of you feel that you don’t have any close friends right now, please don’t worry. Just decide that the reason you don’t have any now is so that you can have wonderful friends in the future. Concentrate your energies now on becoming fine people. I’m also sure that in the future, some of you will have friends all around the world.
Discussions on Youth, pp. 39–40
Rather than spending time worrying about if we will develop close relationships, we can focus on developing our own character. Easier said than done, of course, but by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can see for ourselves just how valuable our life really is.
Rather than spending time worrying about if we will develop close relationships, we can focus on developing our own character.
This is just the start. If we only chant without reaching out to form meaningful relationships, it will be difficult to develop our positive characteristics. It is through our interactions with others that we grow. And especially because we chant, we can tap into the confidence to take the first step.
Meaningful connections start with us, not the other person.
How do we bridge the gap between feeling misunderstood or lonely while surrounded by people? Ikeda advises:
Our human relationships are like a mirror. So if you’re thinking, ‘If only so-and-so were a little nicer to me, I could talk to her about anything,’ then that person is probably thinking, ‘If only so-and-so would open up to me, I would be nicer to her.’ You should make the first move to open the channels of communication. If, despite these efforts, you are still rebuffed, then the person you should feel sorry for is your friend.
Discussions on Youth, p. 40
It’s very human to see things one way but Ikeda reminds us of the Buddhist principle of the oneness of life and its environment. Therefore, whatever we are feeling toward another person will be reflected back, like a mirror. That idea can be a tough pill to swallow but it’s actually cause for relief. Why? Because if everything is reflected, then an internal shift will directly impact our surroundings. Meaning, the power to change our reality exists in our own hearts.
If everything is reflected, then an internal shift will directly impact our surroundings. Meaning, the power to change our reality exists in our own hearts.
And the way we can transform our hearts to be guided by compassion, courage and wisdom is by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day. If we decide to become a genuine friend, we’ll soon find ourselves surrounded by genuine people.
Most important is that you have the ability to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo about your human relationships.
If you are feeling lonely or like you don’t have people in your life that you can open your heart to, decide to become that type of person. You can also reach out to your local Buddhist community for support with zero-judgement and share your heart.
If you haven’t yet connected, you can email us at any time. The most important thing to remember is that you have the ability to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and can therefore decide the direction you want your life to go in.