I just don’t know that shame and fear need to be our teachers; rather, compassion, understanding, and love should be our guides.
As many of you saw from my last post I had a difficult week. Facing mortality is emotional and painful. Its also freeing and enlightening. Many people wondered how could I be so compassionate and giving towards this kid who could have killed me. This incident while amazingly difficult enforced something I have been integrating into my work more and more as I talk about what it means to build community.
Compassion matters because the consequences of not being compassionate are enormous. Greater than anything we can ever imagine or want to imagine. I know that The Creator is merciful and compassionate. Yet we as humans are not always.
Compassion is from the Latin meaning co-suffering or to suffer together with. Compassion is considered in just about every religious tradition as among the greatest of virtues It is a core component of love, empathy,sympathy and care.
It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed. – The Buddha.
It shelters and embraces.
At the most basic level, compassion is all about individuals. It cannot be forced on people. You can not make someone compassionate. We all have to decide in our way own our own path whether we want to find the “space” in our hearts and minds to exemplify the virtue of compassion . By its very nature, compassion is a “bottom up” process and thus cannot be imposed by the state or any other institution. Neither your mama nor your church , neither your politics nor your dogma can make you feel it. It goes beyond ideology and nation.
It comes from a place of the heart. A sacred space that acknowledges that you are not the center of the universe and that maybe not everything is absolutely about you. Only with some level of maturity can you feel compassion and you have to decide to accept it as a practice in your life.
Compassion is something you have to want for others…. and in doing so, want for your self. You actually need to have it for yourself before you can share it with others.
Sometimes that takes a radical conversion to embrace compassion.
Like an illness. Or the birth of a baby. Or a traumatic event like car accident. Or informed empathy. Understanding.
Compassion Isn’t Always Easy
Compassion and forgiveness go hand in hand.
Even though compassion mostly involves people talking to each other and feeling connected with one another , it is not easy to achieve. Rather it is among the most difficult things people are ever called on to do emotionally. Victims have to forgive oppressors. The perpetrators of crimes have to admit their guilt and we have to feel empathy to all living beings…. even those we consider to be enemies. It involves letting go of pain and anger. Compassion always creates a space for holding people responsible for their actions while believing in their transformation.
When we can really look at our neighbors and see ourselves reflected back then we win. Someone once said that the strength of compassion is something that healers have and healers use.
Each of us have the ability to heal.
God bless the healers.