Today I will talk about something that is really missing in the world discourse. What is missing is the quality of compassion. If we look around, we see people talking to each other in very harsh ways, very critical ways, and ways that are focused on making the other wrong or bad. An actual discussion isn’t really happening. That is a symptom of the lack of compassion. Where does compassion come from? If you believe what the Dalai Lama says, that you should have compassion, then you have a direction to be compassionate. This is good in today’s world, and yet this is not where compassion comes from. Compassion comes from us. It is a natural part of being a human being. Non-causal compassion, non-causal peace, non-causal, oneness, non-causal love, are all a natural human state. If we are not connected to that place within us, where the non-causal love, joy, peace, and compassion come from, it is very difficult to have compassion in the world.
There are different levels of compassion. It starts with the fundamental openness to the idea of compassion, not as an idea, but as the reality of who we are. It is our core nature. If you look at it that way, it gives you a different perspective. That being said, let’s look at the different levels of compassion. Once we are able to see the oneness with all people and we experience the peace and compassion within ourselves, then we are able to see and feel other people as souls and as being worthy of compassion because that is who they are too. The essence of compassion requires a meeting of hearts. When we look at service and charity, we must also look at compassion. There is to be a compassionate connection amount equals, not a compassion that looks down on those being served. There is recognition of the light of God within the other person and acknowledging this. This heartfelt connection is different than thinking that it is a good idea to be compassionate.
Living the Six Foundations for spiritual life helps us to get in touch with our own compassion. Part of the issue with compassion from the inside out is that people don’t always have compassion for themselves. Some have low self-esteem or negative feelings about oneself. This lack of compassion for oneself affects the ability to be compassionate towards others. We are seeing this lack of self-esteem and compassion almost as an epidemic in the world.
Another aspect of this, because compassion is not about ego, is that as the dark force of the ego grows, the space of compassion diminishes. This is because compassion requires humility. In the Native American tradition, compassion reminds us that we may not understand until we have walked in the other’s moccasins. Are we so disconnected from the life of the other person that their position doesn’t matter, and we just have our own position? Does the other position exist, or is it simply your own ego that decides what is right and wrong?
At some point, we also have to understand that compassion also has boundaries. In the Hebrew tradition, compassion is chesed and the boundary is gevurah. Chesed without the gevurah can also cause imbalances. With compassion, there needs to be common sense along with the boundaries. You can give away all of your money and then you are yourself impoverished. Is that compassion, or is that not thinking straight? Being compassionate is not meant to be a suicide pact. Compassion requires some maturity in how we operate in the world. The way politicians use the term compassion is often as a politically correct and clever way to make people feel guilty and manipulate them for some agenda. This is false compassion rather than the heart connection we are talking about.
It is from clarity that we are able to see the compassion that is needed. As you may notice in the world today, without compassion the world does not work. On every level of dialogue, whether it is on college campuses, between couples or family members, or in the work place, people are having trouble talking to each other. Compassion is a form of love on the heart to heart level, seeing who that person is, rather than just your projection onto that person. Part of waking up the world is really bringing the consciousness of compassion back into the story. The world needs this type of compassion with mature and thoughtful boundaries in order to function.
May everybody be blessed that we are able to get in touch with the compassion within ourselves and begin to live in a way that reflects the compassionate truth of who we truly are.