When we cherish something, we see it for what it is and recognize its value and importance, and we treat it as something that is precious and special. While it may sound like only when something is rare and unique that it deserves to be cherished, a healthy heart cherishes everything unconditionally. It is a natural manifestation of a healthy heart.
As we learn to cherish, we should be mindful that cherishing is distinctively different from growing attachment. We cherish people in our lives – family members, friends and all the people we encounter. Cherishing them means we make a connection with them and value them with our hearts. We don’t own them and shouldn’t project our own expectations onto them. We enjoy the good times with them but don’t lament when they are gone. We cherish life. All the wonderful things we have experienced in life are to be cherished but we shouldn’t become obsessed with or addicted to them and keep wanting more and more.
Cherishing makes life unified – it brings the heart, consciousness and Shen together. Cherishing also enables us to feel true gratitude. Attachment does the opposite – it spoils the unification as the false self (patterns) tries to get its way at the expense of the heart and Shen. When we are attached to something, be it a person, an experience, or a physical object, we develop fear of losing it. Life will be controlled by it and by this fear. This is one of the main sources of pain and suffering in life.
As we live our lives, we are constantly experiencing. What do we make of all the experiences we have in life? Our survival instinct will drive us to seek pleasant experiences and avoid unpleasant ones. We seek with great effort to repeat the pleasant experiences and we also find all kinds of ways to avoid and hide from the unpleasant ones. Either way attachments are developed. Cherishing means we value all experiences with our hearts. We face and see all experiences for what they are and learn and grow from them because that is the true and ultimate purpose of experiences.
Cherishing puts the heart to work and turns it into the primary player in everything we relate to, which is very helpful for building a heart-based way of living. It is therefore well worth the effort to cultivate the ability to cherish.
If you would like to learn more from Yuan Tze about this topic check out our Learn REN XUE website for the Replay of his Learn to Cherish and Find Gratitude online workshop that was six-part of the Living From the Heart workshop series run in 2021.