There is great practical wisdom in understanding how the mind
creates boundaries of concern and interest, and how we can work
with these. Of course there are boundaries; there are other beings
on earth. But what counts is how those boundaries are maintained,
opened and closed.
When we consider otherness — the way beings
are different from us — we can feel either insecurity, ‘How does
she compare with me?’ or contempt, ‘You’re not as good as me’; or
fear and intimidation, ‘You’re better or stronger than me.’ Or, we
can feel adoration/attraction — ‘I want to be bonded to you.’
These immediate assumptions are called ‘conceit’: that is, we conceive
of people as worse, better or the same as us. The effect is that the
mind’s responsiveness gets stuck.
Caught in the conceit of self-view, the heart doesn’t extend its boundaries of appreciation and concern.
We take each other for granted as ‘my wife,’ ‘my boss,’ ‘my teacher’; and that fixing of them freezes our sensitivity. In that state, the heart easily tips over
into complaining about the other not being the way they ‘should
be’ (or rather the way I want them to be), and so the heart becomes
a breeding ground for ill-will.
Ajahn Sucitto, Parami: Ways to Cross Life’s Floods