|A Boy and His Dog|
Photograph by Beverly Blanchard
The proper aim of giving is to put the recipients in a state where they no longer need our gifts. — C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves, 1960)
Compassion, it is a buzz word that has been used for eons. Politicians toss the word into their speeches to gain favor with the electorate. The corporate world engages in cause related marketing to give the impression that they care about their communities. Some even ensure us the money raised through these various events is given good causes. Religious institutions talk about the compassion for their fellow man as they pass around the collection plate. Charitable organizations use slogans to guilt you into giving. Give or run for the cause because it shows you care. We have somehow come to be a society who associates giving money with compassion.
On a more personal level, there are many people who believe feeling pity for someone or something means they are exhibiting compassionate behavior. We give to the local panhandler because the giving somehow appeases our guilty conscience. Yet compassion laced with pity almost always has its roots in guilt and fear, and carries a sense of condescension. For some there is even a smug feeling of “I’m glad it’s not me.”
There are others who equate compassion with sympathy. If I commiserate with you then I am considered compassionate. The problem with defining compassion with the concept of sympathy means that on a vibrational level I can’t raise you up.
The Law of Compassion is basically about allowing tenderness and kindness into all your thoughts and actions with yourself and others. It is softening your attitude, and allowing others to be who they are without judgment or condemnation. You simply allow yourself to see the world through someone else’s eyes. The observer becomes the observed.
To truly be compassionate one has begin with oneself. If you cannot offer yourself understanding, forgiveness and loving kindness you can never give genuine compassion to someone else. So the first step in compassion is releasing all judgments and condemnation you have about yourself. Stop beating yourself up over past happenings and recognize that you are valuable in this world.
If you do the first step, you begin to see everyone in your outer world as your teacher. Each is a unique individual providing you with the gift of experience and everyone is a spark of the same Source Energy...we are all one with differing ways of viewing the world, and everyone has a right to be.
Compassion is not about sympathy, empathy or pity. It is not about doing something out of politeness, obligation or guilt. Living a compassionate life does not mean being a doormat to others. It does not mean allowing others to dump all their problems on you or to take advantage of you. To do any of this means you are not operating out of compassion. Living a compassionate life is about truly listening and taking the time to understand someone else’s situation or circumstances. Move through the world with compassion, and the world will present you with unique gifts.
1. Open your heart. Talk to someone you do not know. Every day you get on the same bus or walk the same route, and pass the same people, have you ever taken the time to talk with them? Have you ever smiled at them? Compassion is not about posting cheesy quotes on Facebook, loving kindness is an every moment experience. Take the time to talk to people and find out about them. Take the time to really listen. They may even end up being the person who offers you a piece of advice that sets you on a wonderful path.
2. Walk in someone else’s moccasins. Next time you feel that someone has done something that you perceive as wrong, before you verbally attack the person step back and take a step in their shoes. Try to understand what may be motivating their behavior. For most people you may find that either it is an expression of love or a call for love. Recognize it is far easier to forgive someone when you have taken the time to understand what motivates their behavior. To get in the habit of stepping in someone else’s shoes, next time you are walking behind someone step into their footsteps. Follow them and let yourself become them. On an energy level you may be surprised what information you gather.
3. Think back to a time when you were given the right to be. How did you feel? Hold that feeling. Keep holding that feeling. Keep holding it…
4. Think back to a time when attention was not given to you. How did you feel? Go to the root of this feeling. What do you really fear? Is it real? Or are you manufacturing it?