Opening Your Heart

Ajahn Brahm

Ajahn Brahm photo by Linda MolendijkWhen I was around the age of thirteen, my father took me aside and told me something that would change my life. The two of us were alone in his beaten-up old car, in a side street of one of the poorer suburbs of London. He turned to me and said this: ‘Son, whatever you do in your life, know this. The door of my house will always be open to you.’

I was only a young teenager at the time. I didn’t really understand what he meant, but I knew it was something important, so I remembered it. My father would be dead three years later.

When I became a monk in northeast Thailand, I thought over those words of my Dad. Our home at that time was a small council flat in a poor part of London, not much of a house to open a door into. But then I realized this was not what my Dad really meant. What was lying within my father’s words, like a jewel wrapped in a cloth, was the most articulate expression of love that I know: ‘Son, whatever you do in your life, know this. The door of my heart will always be open to you.’

My father was offering unconditional love. No strings attached. I was his son and that was enough. It was beautiful. It was real. He meant it.

It takes courage and wisdom to say those words to another, to open the door of your heart to somebody else, with no ‘ifs’. Perhaps we might think they would take advantage of us, but that’s not how it works, not in my experience. When you are given that sort of love from another, it’s like receiving the most precious of gifts. You treasure it, keep it close to your heart, lest it be lost. Even though at the time I only partially understood my Dad’s meaning, even so I wouldn’t dare hurt such a man. If you give those words to someone close to you, if you really mean them, if they come from your heart, then that person will reach upwards, not downwards, to meet your love.

–Ajahn Brahm, from Opening the Door of Your Heart (Lothian Books)

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