You Don't Have To Love Everyone (But Here's How To Be A Better Person)

“There is only one. Sub ek — it’s all one. See God everywhere. Don’t get angry. Tell the truth.” That advice from guru Maharajji helped American spiritual leader Ram Dass through his struggle with "loving everyone."

In a Buddhist context, we could paraphrase this to mean we should become aware of the emptiness of all things that have dependently arisen. This attitude is known as Everything Mind — seeing and experiencing the interconnectedness, the Oneness, of all beings and of all things.

As important (and inextricably intertwined with), loving everyone is to be of service. This is also known as karma yoga — a crucial element of the spiritual path because, as we give of ourselves, we’re simultaneously cultivating the sense of unity. Karma yoga is an incredible tool to help us dismantle our egos.

Being of service to others, with an attitude of love and expectation of nothing in return, is an inspiring, life-affirming experience.

Service is a universal spiritual practice. The compulsion to be of service is inherent in most human beings, but often dormant until called upon. During a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or any other horror, people respond by doing whatever they can, whether it’s digging people out of rubble, tending wounds, or giving away food and water. That impulse we all feel to be of service is Everything Mind.

The person we’re working diligently to pull out of the rubble after a tornado may have been someone who, only moments earlier, we would have ostracized for reasons of social, political, or religious differences.

In the face of disasters, tragedies, and death, those trivial differences cease to matter. Our instinct is to help, regardless of color or creed.

The spiritual qualities we aim to develop are fruitless if we limit them to the few people in our tribe, our sangha, our church. Many people who don’t consider themselves spiritual embody true spirituality by offering themselves to others. If self-improvement is the only focus of spiritual development, all that changes is our egotistical perspective of our spiritual selves. Ego is manipulative. It can and will keep us locked in that cycle as long as we allow it to.

When we offer ourselves selflessly in service — whether by volunteering at a soup kitchen or nursing home or speaking at a detox or rehab — we separate ourselves from ego and connect with the God that exists in all beings. You are not handing a homeless person a piece of bread. God is offering God a piece of God. Sub ek — it’s all one.

Adapted from Everything Mind: What I’ve Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening, and the Mind-Blowing Truth of It All by Chris Grosso. Copyright © 2015 by Chris Grosso. Published in October 2015 by Sounds True.

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