Week 2: Compassion
What is Compassion?
|Core Essay on Compassion|
Compassion is as simple as recognizing that all of humanity are your peers. They all feel pain and suffering. They all wish for greater things. They all have passions and Lovers and desires. They all have a life they wish they could be living. Living in Compassion is recognizing that we should always be treating others the way that we ourselves would want to be treated. If we would not want to be told we have a weird nose, then we should not tell someone else they have a weird nose. Even if it is followed by a giggle and a “just teasing”. These little comments still hurt.
When directed outwardly we see that charity arises not so much from Generosity, but rather from Compassion. The donations that help support charities are definitely acts of Generosity. But charitable work itself is actually Compassion. For charitable work arises from the need to help those less fortunate than yourself. To help raise them up to stand tall with you. It comes from a lack of judgment and a willingness to offer a helping hand in times of need.
But most of all Compassion comes from a willingness to forgive yourself your transgressions. We all make mistakes. Some more terrible than others. But we must be willing to accept those mistakes for what they are; lessons. Once we see how our mistakes (and every decision we make) has shaped our lives, we begin to see that it was all part of the process. Assuming we do not repeat our mistakes, we deserve to be forgiven. For we would not be the person we are today, had we not made them. Compassion directed outwardly must first start with inwardly directed forgiveness.
This Weeks Challenge
The literal definition of Compassion from Merriam Webster is: “a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”, but Compassion is so much more than an academic definition. To be truly Compassionate, you have to have more than a desire to alleviate the distresses of others, you have to be willing to approach all of humanity without judgement. For some people, this challenge will be a walk in the park, for others, especially those who have probably been judged unfavourably in the past, making the switch to Compassionate thinking will be a harder pill to swallow. The purpose of this challenge is to guide your mind to make the switch from automatically looking at the world with judgment, to looking at it with Compassion.
The following examples are suggestions only. Feel free to incorporate as many of them into your daily life as you are able to, or create your own examples of Compassion.
The following challenge is split into three categories. Please complete each category and send an email with an essay describing how your week of Living in Compassion has changed you. This essay can be anywhere from 500 to 1000 words and will become a post on this blog.
Inward Compassion comes from looking at our own lives and realizing that we are who we are not because of human nature, nor some innate difference from other people. We are who we are, because of the lessons we have encountered and the way we have reacted to them. But today is a new day, and the past is the past. Inward Compassion is non-judgment directed towards yourself. This is not to say that you should act without morals and then simply forgive yourself repeatedly afterwards. But once you have decided to Live in Love, you must be able to truly forgive yourself for the mistakes that have brought you to where you are today. Without those mistakes, you would never have taken this challenge. What else would you have missed? For this week, please take the time to write about how your life is exactly as it should be and each decision has brought you to nowhere else but this one inevitable place in life. Write about how you accept this place you find yourself and how you do not judge yourself for ending up here.
– Sit and meditate on the various crossroads you have reached up until this point in your life. Come to learn how the decisions you have made have formed who you are, and to accept that it is a good thing.
– Stop watching/reading media outlets that produce material you find negative and disrespectful to humanity. The main goal of most mainstream media is to make people judge each other and put themselves into constant competition with their equals, and that never leads to Compassion. Find an unbiased source for current events that hasn’t turned into “infotainment”.
– Try to become more in tune with your inner dialogue. When you find yourself having negative thoughts (eg- “I feel fat today”) immediately replace it with a positive one (eg- “I’m so curvy/cuddly”)
Outward Compassion can be easily confused with Generosity. This is mostly due to the fact that most people’s struggles revolve around access to resources. But Compassion is more about looking at a situation and seeing how you would want to be treated in that scenario and then acting accordingly. In Generosity we give freely to everyone, because we have things to give. In Compassion we give freely to those who need us because we know that if we were in that situation, we would need a helping hand as well. Take the time to perform one act of Outward Compassion this week and write about it.
– Take time to help the sick, aging and lonely digest their lives. Ask them questions and truly listen to their answers. Come to know them intimately and you will see you are not so different, only from different pasts.
– Write letters to prison inmates, helping them to understand that there is another way. How will they ever be rehabilitated or expected to have respect for humanity if humanity never shows them Compassion?
– Challenge someone to a debate, and take a side that you personally don’t agree with. (eg: debate on behalf of Mao’s Revolution in China) This one won’t be easy, but it allows you to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, and while you may never agree with their actions, you can still have Compassion for them.
This section of the challenge centers around changing our inner dialogue. Forgiveness is a state of mind. It is an understanding that nobody can hurt you, but yourself. When we allow ourselves to fall into judgment, our inner dialogue becomes very cynical and even down right abusive. By drawing your attention to the things you are thinking you can start to catch yourself and change that first negative response that sometimes seems so natural. It is not, in fact, natural, merely habitual. It is possible to change your habits. For this week, please keep a journal of judgmental thoughts you have had throughout the week. Be honest with yourself and try to be as aware as possible. After each negative entry, write a more positive thought to replace it instead.