On Hospitality and Loving Thy Neighbor
Hospitality relates to love, compassion, and mutual supportiveness. These are the qualities that help human species survive throughout the tens of thousands of years. From hunting the mammoths hundreds of thousands of years ago to settling the crises in the modern-day world, these qualities make us what we are – human beings. Hospitality definitely has a significant role in our daily lives. It’s not something material or physical that you can touch. It is rather a spiritual phenomenon that can only be described in relative terms. Probably the most popular advice ever given in regards to relationships and hospitality was given by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, when he said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. This phrase has several meanings. First, it means that you shouldn’t do anything to anyone that you don’t want to happen to yourself. But the ultimate meaning of this message is to relate to your neighbor as you relate to yourself. This kind of relationship-model is difficult to fathom, but it is the inability to practice it that makes our world a dangerous place to live in. From ceaseless wars throughout the centuries to the latest massacre in Aleppo, history shows us that this inability to follow basic principle given by Jesus leads us nowhere. However, how can one practice these qualities in the world full of hostility and ill-will? Evidently, deep changes on the level of individual consciousness are required, because right now people perceive themselves as entities, which are separate in the world. In fact, both modern science and ancient spiritual teachings show us that separation is only an illusion produced by the distorted perception of the human mind. A great deal of spiritual practice and introspection is needed to grasp this simple, yet so powerful truth. It is interesting that according to the recent scientific studies, when people are thinking about their dear ones, the same part of the brain lights up as when they are thinking about themselves. So, in terms of the reality that our brain manufactures, the notion “I” includes everything that we sincerely love. Imagine a world where everyone perceives everything around as “I”. Would you hurt something or someone understanding that you’re also hurting yourself? I bet you wouldn’t. I want to leave you with these deep questions and get back to analyzing hospitality as a trait of human character, so that we can understand what qualities and skills should be developed in order to increase our hospitality and, consequently, global well-being. Hospitality has its main characteristics like empathy, ability to help people, respect, ability to listen, and desire to help. Hospitality is a part of ethical conduct propagated by many religions and it is easy to understand why. Without hospitality, there could be no consolidation between people. Without consolidation, there could be no progress and development. Only regress and decay. I wrote this essay with a strong yearning in my heart. This yearning was that we all become more compassioned and practice hospitality from the bottom of our hearts on a daily basis.